If you’ve ever listened to a Nokia produced video, you’ll know one thing. The soundtrack usually rocks. Sometimes that’s down to picking the right tune from the right artist, but often it’s thanks to Senior Sound Design Engineer, Ben Lord. Ben not only composes tunes for videos, he plays the music and sometimes even sings. To find out more about his work, his team and how they come up trumps time after time, we hooked up with the musical maestro himself. Here’s what he had to say.
Your job title is Senior Sound Design Engineer. What does that involve on a day-to-day basis?
Typically I’ll get to the studio and get on with whatever design/composition work is sitting in my in tray, which at the moment happens to be a bunch of product marketing videos. The music production for those involves getting a brief from the creative director or producer, writing some tracks, then making changes as required so that everyone’s happy before it goes out. Sometimes writing to picture, other times just writing a track, which the picture is then edited to.
In addition we have two collaborative projects running at the moment, which involve the whole sound team. That’s Tapio – our manager, and four designers Hannu, Aleksi, Henry, and me.
So, how did you end up in this role and what do you like about it best?
I just saw an ad for the role and applied! My background is largely in music production, audio branding, and sound design, for adverts and idents, with a bit of track co-writing for other artists thrown in for good measure along with writing library music for a couple commercial music libraries.
As for what I like best about it…….that’s a tough one. I firmly believe I have the best job in the whole company so the list is pretty long! Some great things are just the simple things like getting paid to write music for the majority of your day, or being involved with really interesting audio branding or sound design projects is great. One of the best things for me is being part of a team, especially one with members which have such great experience in their fields and such a tremendously diverse skill set.
You’re one of the main music men for Nokia’s videos. What’s your process for composing new tunes?
Usually there’ll be a guide track or tracks, which are close in feel, genre, tempo, and mood to what the creative director is aiming for. Sometimes I might be a part of that initial process, sometimes not.
Once several guide tracks are chosen, depending on timescale, and intended usage of the track, I’ll either just get on with writing a track which encompasses those attributes, or, write up a brief, and send that to other members of the sound team, and we’ll all pitch on the job together.We try to avoid pastiche as best we can, striving instead to do something original, which just ticks a lot of the boxes of the guide tracks.
If you had to pick your top music video creation what would it be and why?
I think my favourite is the Global 2013 Lumia TV commercial, with a track called Keep On Running, which I wrote last year. It features a vocal by Erika Muller, a Nokia packaging designer who replied to an email I sent out looking for a female vocalist!
A fascinating insight into what sounds like a dream job for music makers. But have we missed any questions you’d like answered? If so drop them in the comments below.