Music Q&A: Setting the Pace

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With a song called "Rubbaneck" for its Scion brand, Toyota's latest theatrical and broadcast track, from Mophonics composer Zach Corbell, is an adrenaline rush of a spot. As one half of the band Zerolene, Corbell recorded with partner Ryan Thomlinson on the project.

What did the agency ask you to write?

The original brief called for music for a futuristic digital world. A world less human with a sound that is dynamic, brash, edgy and new. Attik really wanted something fresh and unique, organic but with new production techniques. Ultimately we realized that we needed to keep our musical style authentic to the urban trendsetter crowd that Scion targets, so in the end we made the type of track that we enjoy listening to on our iPods, at shows and in clubs.

How did you integrate sound design and song?

After writing a few sketches, you pretty much have an idea of the key hits and basic tempo, which was the case as "Rubbanek" was being written. We were able to work with Richard Devine, who contributed some sound design elements. Once those were incorporated into the session, we began adding and removing sound, but in the end the majority of the key hits came from the music and not the sound design. It did take a few passes to properly finesse the sound design elements seamlessly with the music, because when we initially put them together the backbeat felt too busy and jumbled. The end result allows the sound design to move the picture forward.

What was the writing process like?

It was is fairly simple. If we don't get into a groove in the first 30 minutes of a session, we just move on to the next idea. One of us will come up with a hook and bring it in; from there we just work around that core element. Building the track from a hook seems to be the best way to work. Then the beats and bass lines emerge as the backbone of the track, and the whole thing grows.

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