Upstart original music and sound design studio Analogue Muse - formed just 18 months ago by Partners Jeremy Turner and Alan Zahn - has followed a string of successful feature, TV, web, and commercial projects with a wildly popular Google web film turned Super Bowl spot. Analogue Muse utilized its full toolbox of impressive and growing assets: from original composition played exclusively by the Muse team, to sound design and mix. Google Creative Lab and 1st Avenue Machine recognized the extraordinary breadth of talent and services available at the bustling boutique.
Working with 1st Avenue Machine director Aaron Duffy via Google Creative Lab, Analogue Muse and its sister brand Muse Mix established a mood that helped the spot become the staggering success that it has become. Beginning with a single repeated piano note that echoes the blinking cursor on the screen, the score swells as the story on screen grows more emotional. The search engine's famous search bar appears to chart a college student's online inquiries as he moves from innocent young traveler to love-struck American abroad, to the conclusion as a newlywed with a baby. As an invisible hand types in successive search queries, corresponding search result lists and Google maps pop up: "study abroad paris france," "impress a french girl," "long distance relationship advice," and "churches in paris." The rapidly evolving story is made more poignant through Analogue's moving music and the sounds that completely support the narrative: a bold French voice reading translations as "translate tu es tres mignon" is typed in; the sound of jet engines as the invisible searcher checks on a Delta flight between New York and Paris; and a baby crying as the final entry, "how to assemble a crib," is typed in.
The original web clip was launched on Hulu and YouTube, where it has already received over one million hits in three months. The sheer volume of views, critical acclaim and popularity sparked Google to rework the spot for its TV debut during the Super Bowl. In order to transform the :52 clip into a full :60 more suitable for the television space, Analogue's Turner and Zahn, with Muse's Nick Cipriano and Geoff Strasser went back to the drawing board. They faced the challenge of complementing an additional :08 of footage without sacrificing the tempo, pace, tone or quality that made their online version an undisputed hit. More significantly, they had to account for the different experiences that are elicited from viewing web content versus television.
"This spot had a real effect on people - countless bloggers testified that viewing it really touched them and some even inquired as to where they can purchase the music. We're really honored that a massive client like Google and their Creative Lab division would hold our work in such high regard and trust us with the project," noted Turner, who praised the sound design contributions of Nick Cipriano and Geoff Strasser.
Analogue worked closely with Duffy throughout both efforts. "Aaron was involved all the way through, has a great musical vocabulary, and was very clear about his vision for the spot," said Zahn. Turner adds, "The challenge was in trying to make it sound close to the original without anyone noticing that 8 seconds had been added. We sent revisions back and forth and we worked as a team to build the loops and add the layers for this great final product. This is a really solid relationship that has helped Analogue grow as a company as we establish a solid foothold in the industry."
The Google spot, like so many aspects of Analogue's business, was a collision of spontaneous happenstance, intuitive networking, and raw skill. Around the time of the company launch, Turner met 1st Avenue Machine head of creative development Claire Mitchell in a bar, which led to an invitation to the production company's studio. There they met the prodigious Duffy, who had recently finished a McDonald's spot out of the UK. Duffy had asked for a director's cut and was seeking new music for a US version - which Analogue was more than prepared to compose. The collaboration was so successful that it laid the foundation for Google.
The Google spots are a small part of Analogue's portfolio. Since launching, the company has completed a number of high-profile projects with key agencies: a humorous Geico spot starring Elmer Fudd via Martin that will see airtime on Super Bowl Sunday; an American Express spot through Momentum that ran on the Jumbo Tron at LA's Staples Center; an Optimum spot with Gardner Nelson; a Hallmark spot via Leo Burnett; and an Autism Speaks commercial via BBDO.
Outside of the commercial space, Analogue Muse scored an independent film on IFC recently; produced, arranged and performed the music for an HBO special debuting on Valentine's Day; and composed anthems for shows on Food Network and the Travel Channel.
That any of these projects happened at all is the result, literally, of an accident. Zahn's team found themselves one man short in a pick-up basketball game at Chelsea Piers and asked Turner to join them. When the straggler dove for a loose ball later in the game, one of Zahn's colleagues stepped on Turner's hand, crushing it. In the drive to the emergency room, Zahn and Turner discovered their mutual musical pedigrees. The meeting happened at an optimal point for both parties: Turner had interest in expanding into the ad space, while Zahn's studios were being sold to make way for luxury condos. The duo joined forces and Analogue Muse was born.
"Jeremy and I had a great connection right away, musically, professionally, and personally; the only place we clashed was on the basketball court," noted Zahn. "For a young company that's kept relatively low to the ground publicity-wise, we've built a great portfolio and some awesome relationships. We're riding this momentum into some really great projects, which we'll be announcing in the next few months. We've got great personnel in place and we're well on our way to establishing ourselves as a well-known name in all things audio."
Both musicians have evolved significantly over the course of their careers. Zahn began his musical life as a studio and touring musician. As the allure of the road began to wane, he moved to Greenwich Village and began a successful career arranging and producing, predominately for singer/songwriters. Backer Spielvogel then brought him into its music department where he quickly rose to become the youngest vice president in the company, ascending to become director of music. From there Alan founded Red House Music, where he composed and produced music for hundreds of commercials, winning multiple awards in the process.
The Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based Turner opted out of his final year at Julliard, when he joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he is now the Assistant Principal Cellist. An accomplished singer and songwriter, guitarist, and pianist, Turner has performed in Asia, Europe, Australasia and throughout North America. He has recorded and performed from Carnegie Hall to MTV Unplugged, with artists such as David Byrne, My Morning Jacket, Renee Fleming, LCD Soundsystem, and Lupe Fiasco. Though he is relatively new at scoring and sound design for the screen, he has taken to it rapidly.