The musicians of media: ‘It used to be about lager, now it’s like a therapy session’
The advertising industry has no shortage of creativity, and some of it just bursts out of the working week and onto the nearest pub stage on a Friday night.
Whether it’s singing backing vocals for Noel Gallagher or playing at Whiskey A Go Go on Jim Morrison’s birthday, music is a natural confidence kick and an endorphin booster.
We round up some of the media and advertising industry’s musicians.
Jonathan Kitchen, head of sales, Lad Bible
Side gig: Drummer for Emma and the Fragments
In total disregard for the lessons we should have learned from Fleetwood Mac, Jonathan Kitchen decided to join his wife’s band. Five years and two EPs later and they are still gigging in London, including playing the O2 Academy in Islington (“the smaller venue but still…”) and have yet to be hit by the “Rumours” curse.
Emma and the Fragments dabble in Britpop and are heavily influenced by classic ’90s indie. “As a drummer, you have to regularly play on kits that are barely hanging together, so it’s always fun,” he said. “It keeps me sane. It’s a good reason to have lots of tattoos and keeps my dream alive of playing on a big stage at an outdoor festival.”
Philip Byrne, branded content and video consultant
Side gig: Gama Bomb frontman
Thanks to being into a genre that was “dead” in a small Irish town some 15 years ago, Byrne and four friends traded tapes and built a band around their thrash metal passion. Since then, Gama Bomb has toured the world and released five albums, including “Citizen Brain” and “Tales from the Grave in Space.”
“Playing the Whiskey A Go Go in L.A. on Jim Morrison’s birthday was something incredible. Even being in the dressing room was a privilege,” said Byrne. One of two dads in the band, Byrne hasn’t let fatherhood dampen his thirst for touring. It gives the gang a chance to “catch up and have what we Irish people would call ‘the craic.’”
“Being in a band also built my confidence, made me more organized and ambitious and taught me that you can make ideas into reality, which is one of the most amazing things humans can do. I want to show my kid by example that you can make your fantasies real if you work hard enough, and this is the object lesson in that.”
Susanna Cousins, strategy director at MEC
Side gig: Backing singer for Noel Gallagher
After singing a mix of Brahms, Bach and Mozart for the 150-person-strong Crouch End Festival Chorus choir for three years, Cousins started the MEC Office Choir, which made it to the finals for the national Office Choir of the Year competition. When former Oasis brother, Noel Gallagher tours in the U.K., the Crouch End Festival Chorus is his choir of choice.
“Being part of such a big choir, you get booked for lots of cool stuff,” she said. “There’s the traditional, classical concerts, then we’re singing (Oasis tracks) ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’ on stage in front of 40,000 people, then we’re asked to make wet snake sounds or barking dog noises for film soundtracks.”
“Getting the people in MEC singing was amazing,” she added. “It’s confidence boosting; they are such feel-good endorphins, I come back to work full of energy and enthusiasm.”
Rob Hyde, former content director, OMD
Side gig: Youngest member of The Great Electric
The Great Electric describe their music as conceptual, instrumental, electronic. “In terms of commercial viability, we’ve got a real niche there,” said Hyde, who plays drums and keyboards in the four-piece, although there’s a certain amount of fluidity with who plays the instruments.
Aside from the influence of the German prog rock bands of the ’70s like Can (“They did some really interesting stuff with time signatures”), Hyde points to contemporary band Fuck Buttons as having a likeness.
“In my 20s, it used to be about drinking lager; now it’s more like a social club therapy session,” he said.
“Working in advertising, it does make you think critically about the audience. In my head, I’m thinking about who’s going to like this, will anyone care about this line. Obviously, I’d never say that out loud at practice though.”
Richard Castle, brand strategy, BuzzFeed U.K.
Side gig: Frontman of Arch20
Arch20 formed in the summer of 2015. The five-piece blend rock, funk, hip hop and rap influences “hitting a sweet spot between Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Roots,” according to the band.
“Favorite memory of being on stage was a boat party we played on the Thames for the launch of ‘Jelly’s vodka,'” said Castle. “We weren’t sure what the crowd reaction would be, but everyone got involved singing along and dancing to our music. It’s all about making sure everyone has a good time for us. We all had a blast. It’s something we will continue to do for a long time.”
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