"What we're trying to do here is really reminiscent of what Motown used to be, like the Brill Building," explains JK. "That's what I modeled this after because you have all these great artists, producers and writers in once place. Musically it was so fertile. My thought was not to have just another 'music house.' I want to create a place that's actually it's own culture." Indeed, the mix of gigs-at interview time the shop was working on 12 different recording projects and just about the same number of commercials-suggests that something different is going on here. And if there's someone to steer that, JK may be the man.
After starting off in the recording industry producing songs and albums for Freddie Jackson, Herbie Hancock and John Forte, in the last decade JK folded in spots work for Budweiser, Diet Coke and Zima, formerly working out of his own JK Music and then affiliated with JSM. JK opened Pulse in July, joined by business affairs manager Cynthia Stahl, Head of Sales Melissa Goodman and 11 other composers, who together, make a truly impressive mix of recording and advertising talents. Besides those mentioned above, residents include Balewa, whose resume includes co-writing Christina Aguilera's "Dirty," as well tracks for Britney Spears and Kelly Rowland; DJ/producer Scott Hardkiss, who's scored films like Spike Lee's 187 plus spots for Levi's, Sprite, and Amex; Teron Beal, who has written for Whitney Houston, Mya, and Michael Jackson; as well as producer/writer teams The Shitake Monkeys and The Desert Riders, whose combined experience includes tracks for Marc Anthony, J. Lo, Britney Spears and Craig David.
With all the activity going on record-wise, you'd think that commercials might just find their way to the back burner, but JK insists that it's just the opposite. For one thing, the active presence of recording projects only benefits the commercials jobs, he suggests. "For example, Pismo will be working on his solo record, Sprite calls up and will need x, y or z," he notes. "His perspective is going to be different from someone who just sat there and did cereal commercials day after day. If you've only been outside and seen one street all your life, you're not going to have the same perspective as if you've traveled the world. Conscious or not, it brings a freshness to the music." Moreover, "we're mostly record producers but we really understand how to do commercials. We can technically meet the needs and schedules. When a client calls or comes over, if they want a guy like Adam or Nikki to sing, they're here. All the talent is here, not to mention a plethora of others who come in and collaborate with them. It's not somebody making a phone call going, 'Hey we'd like to rep you Mr. Record Producer.' To me that isn't particularly authentic because you're just acting as an agent. You don't really have a culture to support what it is you say you do. 'Pulse' to me says it all. Not to be corny, but I love that it connotes your own heartbeat and rhythm but also means being on the cutting edge of something. Also, this company definitely has a pulse, it's not me as an owner dictating, but people doing their thing and bringing it all together. Music is about feeling great, or just feeling period, and if you're in a place that's going to foster your ability to express that, you're going to do incredible work."