Posts by David Tobin

Christmas in Good Company

Christmas is fast approaching, and what better way to start celebrating than to see one of our tracks “What a Wonderful Time Of The Year” chosen by Spotify to be in their Christmas Jazz playlist alongside artists like Michael Bublé and John Legend. As of writing there are more than 275,000 followers of this playlist, so here’s hoping you all like our Christmas offering!

The track is taken from our album “Pretty Swingin’ Christmas” available from iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify.

 

A touch of Vintage Vocal Swing

Some might say that the Andrews Sisters were the sound of a vintage generation.  The first all-female pop group and the originators of the girl power movement, and pioneers of Vintage Vocal Swing. This 1940’s signature sound inspired our recent collaboration with Joanna Forbes L’Estrange. ,

An eight-track album of 1940’s silky-smooth close harmony pieces with lyrical subject matter ranging from the USO (United Services Organisation), and Choo Choo’s, to a little Christmas ditty called Hurry Santa.

Mike Smith (drums), David, Ant Law (Guitar), Tom Farmer (Bass), Colin Good (Piano), Jeff and Audio Network founder Andrew Sunnucks.

Our first collaboration with Joanna couldn’t have been easier.  A mainstay on the London vocal scene, Joanna is equally at home in practically every genre of music, but it’s her time spent with the Swingle Singers that made this project, in particular, the right one for Joanna.

With the songs written and the recording date set, we found ourselves once again in the familiar setting of Abbey Road Studios – but this time in the iconic Studio 3, where Pink Floyd famously recorded “Dark Side of the Moon.”

We were lucky enough to put together a stellar line up of players who specialize in 30’s and 40’s music to set the stage for an incredible collaborative effort:

Back row: Enrico Tomasso (Trumpet), Malcolm Earle-Smith (Trombone), Mark Crooks (Clarinet), Howard McGill (Alto/Flute), Phil Todd (Tenor/Flute).

After a stunning day of rhythm and horn sessions, the stage was set for the evening vocals. What better way to get into the spirit of the music than to wear vintage 1940’s clothing, so that’s exactly what we did. David in an R.A.F. uniform, Jeff in 40’s-style trousers with suspenders and hat and the girls in classic matching Andrews Sisters’ outfits. Joanna joined by Sara Brimer-Davey and Joanna Goldsmith-Eteson expertly weaved their way through the vocal arrangements for three hours of pure joy. We were all instantly transported back almost 80 years.

Each of us in the studio that day commented on how we couldn’t remember a recording session that was more fun  – and since we are collectively talking about thousands of hours of studio time that is really saying something!

Look for our Vintage Vocal Swing album to be released by Audio Network in summer 2018!

Cartoon Capers with John Altman

One of the things we love most about the type of Media music writing we do is the huge breadth of styles that we get to work on, and this has been particularly apparent in our current project “Action Cartoon” – A collaboration with composing legend and Emmy winner John Altman.

So what do we mean by Action Cartoon?

Think, Simpsons with a touch of The Jetsons meet Spiderman, or Dangermouse with a pinch of Dick Barton….

Part of the creative challenge of this type of project is getting into the mindset of how this stuff was originally conceived, written and recorded back-in-the-day, in order to faithfully recreate music that stands up against the originals.

“This is where our collaborator John Altman came into his own,” said David.

To give you a bit of background, John is a musical director, arranger, composer, conductor and saxophonist. Beginning his career in the late 60’s as an in-demand saxophonist, through the years John has performed with the likes of Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Bob Marley, Muddy Waters and Prince, as well as being Van Morrison’s musical director.

John’s arranging and conducting talents garnered many hit records such as George Michael’s “Kissing a Fool”, Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train” and Alison Moyet’s “That Ole Devil Called Love” which John also produced. He also arranged Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”, a song which has gained worldwide cult status. As well as having an A-List career working on commercial hits, John has an equally successful career as a busy film and TV composer and has worked on countless movies and TV shows. Big screen success has included Titanic, Shall We Dance and The Lost Empire to name a few of the long list.

“Working with John has been a wonderful learning experience,” said David “When we first discussed the project, John’s knowledge of the genre and of the process of the composers was remarkable.” We discussed in depth the original creative and recording processes, and John’s insight has added an authenticity we would never have achieved without his input.”

“For me, what’s been wonderful is the way ideas have flowed,” said Jeff Meegan. “A creative melting-pot, with everyone having input, for me, is the key to a successful collaboration.”

As always everything has to be carefully conceived. Every splodge of every note, from the conception of the scores through to the recording process. Once again at Abbey Road studio 2, with 11 hours of sessions where John will conduct and David and Jeff will jointly produce.

Meegan, Tobin and Altman

At Abbey Road with John Altman

One of the extra things that set this project apart will be the use of comedy percussion. This will be a signature sound of the collection. We hope to create a virtual mini library of bangs, hits, squeaks and pops during a percussion session in Abbey Road studio 3 with percussionist Paul Clarvis.

“We chose not to write any of these parts in advance,” said David. “We decided it would be more fun to work on these in real time with Paul. We asked him to bring everything but the kitchen sink… and then joked that he might want to throw that in his bag too!”

“Working with Jeff and David has been a real learning curve for me,” said John Altman. “ I’m used to collaborating on movies with directors and editors, or on records with artists and producers but this is my first experience of collaboration with fellow composers and I must confess I am enjoying being able to discuss what I’m doing along the way with people who share the same experiences. The first of many albums with Jeff and David I hope!”

Once the recordings are complete, we begin the meticulous process of mixing, creating all the necessary versions and putting all final finishing touches to everything.Look out early next year for the Action Cartoon Comedy album to be released on www.audionetwork.com and we’ll be posting some snippets here very soon!

 

The Toronto Film Festival Experience

Well.. now that the dust has settled on the Toronto International Film Festival 2017, here’s a quick insight into our experience of the wonderfully chaotic world of TIFF from a festival first-timer.

Despite both being industry veterans, this was the first time that either Jeff or I had attended a film festival and so we weren’t sure what to expect. Would we be waltzing up the red carpet, or run over in the public’s rush to search out celebrities?

Toronto International Film Festival

SuperSize Me 2 star, Morgan Spurlock on the Red Carpet with David and Jeff.

Well, I’m happy to report that the reality was both! It was a real pleasure to walk down the red carpet with the star of SuperSize Me 2, Morgan Spurlock at the premiere of our new movie – but equally I was amused to be asked “are you somebody?” when standing watching a stationary car for a glimpse of Matt Damon and George Clooney – who were arriving for the opening of Suburbicon.

My answer of “I’m not sure” seemed to confuse the eager stargazer I think, but the scrum towards the Hollywood A-listers reminded me how important movies and movie stars are to the rest of us, especially in a world going through some slightly choppy times.

Walking down Festival Avenue, a street that had been cordoned off for promotional events, gave me a chance to take in the genuine excitement that still exists around cinema and arts festivals of all sorts. There were street musicians, TV crews, people from all over the world who’d make pilgrimages to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars and interested locals, all wandering around in a sea of good-natured chatter.

At TIFF 2017 there were a staggering 339 new movies, shown in just 11 days. Some critics felt that the festival was almost too large, but without any previous experience to match it against, it just felt buzzy and exciting to us. This year featured many biopics, including the Lady Gaga story “Five Foot Two” and “Borg vs McEnroe”, which looks at the rivalry between the tennis stars in the 1980’s.

 

Toronto International Film Festival

The crazy world of TIFF 2017

As with all film festivals, there’s a competitive nature to them, with movies attempting to gain popularity, notoriety and ultimately looking to secure distribution deals. This year’s festival was no different and the winner of the People’s Choice Award went to “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”. A harrowing, yet compelling movie by Academy award-winner Martin McDonagh, starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. Other movies to gain recognition were “Bodied” – A satirical exploration of Battle Rapping and “I, Tonya” – The Tonya Harding Story.

For our own small part, the team on SuperSize Me 2 were delighted to have the movie named in the top three documentaries of the festival and, we all hope it bodes well for the upcoming awards season – but for our part, it was just a blast to be involved in the slightly crazy world that was TIFF 2017.

For a full list of festival winners and award nominees check out the TIFF awards site here. See also our blogs on the movie Supersize Me 2, and  A Film Season In Bloom

Super Size Me 2 – Scored by Meegan & Tobin

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken

David Tobin and Jeff Meegan, together with Tim Garland, are excited to announce the forthcoming release of:“Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!”, with an original score by the 3 composers.

This follow-up to Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”, is the first feature film score for Meegan & Tobin.  It premieres next week at the Toronto Film Festival.

With the help of playful melodies and understated skillful orchestrations, their original music to “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!” helps paint the stark sometimes dark truths behind the very intertwined Chicken and Fast Food industries.  This helps Morgan Spurlock reignite his clash with the fast food industry in sizzling fashion.  In the original movie, Morgan Spurlock took on the McDonald’s and helped fashion a change in the company by throwing light on the way in which huge portion sizes, large amounts of sugar and saturated fat are damaging our health and that of our children.

In the latest movie, Spurlock takes on the main players in the huge U.S chicken industry and deals with the issue of how fast food companies lie to us about what goes into their products. It also sheds light on the tough conditions that chicken farmers are expected to work in and how they are forced into virtual poverty by means of an unfair and corrupt system.

Working With Morgan Spurlock

“It was a pleasure writing with Spurlock and his team,” says David Tobin.  “The left-field manner in which the film tackles some rather hard issues presented some fun complexities. Finding the right balance of light heartedness and sincerity while still conveying the solemnity of the issues was a challenge we all really enjoyed”.   

We are all delighted to have been involved in such a worthwhile project and we are eagerly looking forward to our next foray into the scoring world

The emotional touch

When writing production music, one of the interesting things for us as composers is to see the vastly differing creative and emotive ways our music is used on a vast variety of projects.

When writing production music, one of the interesting things for us as composers is to see the vastly differing creative and emotive ways our music is used on a vast variety of projects.

One of the reasons I never tire of writing music for picture is that the images can often be ambiguous and emotionally uncertain for a viewer, who is then guided as to how the producer wants them to feel about the film by the music. This is pretty powerful and I get a real kick out of knowing the effect that the music used has on the viewer / listener.

All the more reason why I was excited and delighted to see an article by Andrew Cocker, senior marketing director of Expedia, talking about how Expedia has decided to run a series of adverts chosen by running 6 x 3min documentaries and seeing which ones invoked the best response from audiences.

One of the adverts that ended up being commissioned was a moving film about a truck driver from the West Midlands in the UK who loves Opera and travels to Madrid to watch a live performance. It features some of the opera works featured in the Audio Network Opera Favourites album, produced and arranged by Jeff and me alongside Julian Gallant some while ago.

Recording this music was itself an emotional process, as (although recorded at Abbey Road) it was recorded live in real time, with singers and orchestra performing together. Putting world class singers and  players in an iconic studio and listening to them perform some of the greatest works in the opera repertoire was an emotional experience for all involved.

Here’s the advert in all its glory:

 

 

And here’s the article about the advert campaign:

 

Coming soon, more news on our latest projects and releases, from Patriotic American to Brass Band, from Cowboy to Native American Indian Chanting (no honestly) and our first feature film!