Fluid's Tasty Blend

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The windowed walls that divide the composing and editing rooms at Fluid don't just allow sunlight to stream through to the back rooms of the 5,000-square-foot loft. They also keep everyone at the SoHo, Manhattan-based music/post-production house keyed into each other's projects. Says Flame artist/editor Alex Frowein, one of the three founders, "It's philosophically in tune with what we're trying to do, which is to integrate all of these things as much as possible."

`All of these things' refers to the disciplines that Fluid has under one roof: editing, Flame and music. It creates a good environment for the artists to feed off each other. "Part of the Fluid name is to try to get a fluid flow of ideas, become a fluid vehicle for someone's creative," explains Frowein, whose own name has a nice fluidity to it -- it means `happy wine' in German.

Unlike large production companies that might sprout an auxiliary post arm or musical leg, Fluid is a union of two independent Boston boutiques, Shapiro Music, and postproduction firm Core Group. It unites the post-work skills of Frowein with the music and sound design of partners David Shapiro and Andrew Sherman.

It's pretty hard to pin down the Fluid guys by appearances. Shapiro sports a close-cut platinum 'do; Sherman, long rocker locks and leather pants; and Frowein, a brown buzz-cut with square-framed specs. Despite their varied guises, they share common ground as alums from Boston's Berklee College of Music. After Berklee, Shapiro (pronounced Sha-"pye"-ro because he's from "Fye"-ladelphia) spent a decade touring and recording as a bassist, then went into commercials music. In 1992, he opened Shapiro Music, which scored Comedy Central's Dr. Katz and also went on to win several industry awards, including a Clio for the Adidas Yanks spot with Leagas/Delaney. Sherman joined Shapiro's company after tutoring at Berklee and doing some touring of his own. His outside pursuits include playing and writing for the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Mariah Carey. Frowein, the `post'man at Fluid, has his own solid musical roots. At Berklee he studied music synthesis and production and even worked with Sherman as a tutor. After that he switched gears into digital imaging. In 1993 he formed postproduction house Core Group in Boston, where he fine-tuned his skills in editing and Flame.

The three crossed paths when both Shapiro Music and Core Group were hired for some United Way spots (via Arnold Advertising) and Sanitarium (via ASC Games). The former floated shimmery, layered images against a sparkly sonic backdrop to create an ethereal fantasy world; and the latter injected satanic, morphed voices into the eerie confines of an interactive videogame set in an insane asylum. It looked good, it felt right, and the three decided to band together and move to New York to broaden their palette and attract bigger jobs. Current joint efforts include Uniworld's spots featuring Marlon Wayans for 1-800-CALL-ATT, and new work with D'Arcy on Pam cooking spray.

Despite their versatility, the Fluid folks shudder at being viewed as a one-stop shopping hub for all things creative. Says Sherman, "We're not all or nothing. Our aim is not necessarily to grow this place into some giant. We want to keep it focused."

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