Q&A With Pull’s Mitch Davis

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Based in SoHo, NYC, Pull is a full service music company that has created music for top brands like Apple, Nike, AT&T and more. Founded by composer Mitch Davis and executive producer Scott Brittingham, Pull provides original music, sound design and music supervision for all mediums.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Mitch about the Pull team and how they make memorable music for clients.

What’s your musical background and how does that influence your work?

pull music“My influences and tastes really run the full spectrum. I think that is part of what makes me good at my job as a composer. I really appreciate a good song, regardless of genré. Without actually appreciating a style of music, you can’t create it…at least not a ‘legit’ sounding version of it. Whatever musical language I speak at any given time, my goal is to always sound like it is my first language.

Let’s say you don’t like ‘Country’ music, for example, but have been asked to write in that style. If you categorically can’t enjoy a Country song, how will you know if your track is good? If you can’t feel the ‘good’ in theirs, you won’t be able to put the ‘good’ into yours.

In addition to the diversity of styles, I work in a diversity of formats. From records to ads to film to television…they all touch on a different skill set and being able to switch from one to another in my job keeps things interesting.”

Can you give us an example of a challenging project and how you overcame those challenges?

“We just finished up a great spot for Kohler. It takes place at a cocktail party in a futuristic world where intelligent robots are living side by side with humans.

The goal was to come up with music akin to what they might be listening to at this party. At the same time, the music should be genréless since we are at some unnamed point in the future. The track would be treated as a score rather than as music being actually listened to in the environment, though.

But the tricky part of this project is that the lines between score and environmental music would be blurred at points. In particular, there is a scene where a partygoer is dancing and the music needed to morph into something that reflects her dance moves yet doesn’t take you out of the score world. I needed to bring in that dance music in organically then drop it out in an equally organic manner.

There were a few ways and places I saw as points to make this transition. This is one of those situations where it was particularly nice to have clients with good creative instincts. We were able to work together to refine the piece to tell the story in the way the client envisioned it and which made musical sense.

As a composer, you always want the music to be the best it can be. When you are scoring to picture, that means it must effectively tell the story in addition to just sounding great on its own merits.”

How is your industry changing and how are you responding?

“Unfortunately, thanks to the way music is being shared online without authorization, the perception of music’s value is being affected. A whole generation of people grew up thinking of music as something you can just take for free. As that mindset starts to seep into the professional world, composers and content creators in general need to make people aware that there are real people dedicating their lives to making art and that it has a real value.

It is up to the artists to put a value on their art. If the artists don’t value their own creations, nobody will.”

What do great commercial composers have in common?

“A great composer must have an intimate understanding of music. That does not mean you must have formal music training. In my opinion that is irrelevant. You just need to have a complete instinctual understanding of music. How you got to that point makes no difference but you need to be at the point of just doing.

When you speak, you don’t think about parts of speech or grammatical rules. You just speak. A great composer will just speak.

Now, to be a great ‘commercial’ composer you must also be able to work to picture…understand how to write for the 15/30/60 structure of broadcast ads. You need to work VERY fast as a typical turnaround time is hovering around 48 hours AND they’ll expect multiple versions. You need to be equally adept at composing, performing, producing and mixing since clients will expect everything to sound like a finished hit record. You need to be emotional about your work yet be emotionally detached from it since you will be asked to change it in ways with which you will not agree. You must be able to handle rejection and criticism very well. You’ll need to work well under pressure while clients stand over you. Did I mention you’ll need to work fast?

Also, have fun with it and smile because that comes through in the music!”

For more information about Pull visit PullPullPull.com.

John Presley is a composer and founder of Future Composer. Visit his website at JohnPresleyMusic.com.