Odds are when you pick up the phone and call Amber's newly
minted executive producer Phil Mossman you won't recognize his
voice. The soft-spoken Londoner's speech bears little resemblance
to another version of his voice that's likely familiar to you?the
one rapping the lyrics to Nomis' "Damn Boots" spot that earned a Gold Lion for
Best use of Music at Cannes last year.
Mossman came to the advertising industry in 2006 after collaborating with some of the brightest in the music industry. From creating "post-rave electronic stuff" (as he puts it) with Andrew Weatherall in Sabres of Paradise, Mossman met David Holmes, then a techno DJ. Soon, Holmes and Mossman were getting soundtrack work, including Out of Sight and Ocean's Eleven as well as album work, like mixing and production on Primal Scream's Exterminator.
From there, the guitarist-turned-multi-instrumentalist, who had been living in England, met James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy, who were working with Holmes in the nascent DFA studios in New York. DFA, widely credited with pushing dance-punk hybrids forward in the early '00s, includes artists like the Juan Maclean, Hot Chip and Hercules and Love Affair. Push came to shove and after Mossman's work with Holmes was done he decided to stay in New York (there was a girl involved). Murphy offered him a spot in his "new punk band," LCD Soundsystem in 2001.
From there, it was five years of touring and playing guitar with the band before slowing down to spend more time with his family, enabled by Amber creative director Michelle Curran, who had an empty composing room. Mossman turned his creative chops to writing music for spots. As time progressed, Mossman found himself taking to a production role as adeptly as composing for ads.
While playing guitar on the road for a highly successful band and executive producing are on opposite ends of the management spectrum, Mossman says he's adapted. "When I was touring, you didn't even have to think of dinner," Mossman says. "Coming back it was a terrible culture shock; I'd freak out at a phone bill. It takes a couple of weeks to learn how to dress yourself again. But now it's a grown-up job, which is why I'm enjoying it so much. "It's the first time Amber's had someone from a musical background doing this job. The biggest key to doing it right is making sure you understand the brief and translating that to all the guys. I loved playing with that band; it was heartbreaking having to leave. But I try and put that level of excitement into what I do now."
So far, that hasn't been difficult. The list of big brands he's touched is impressive. Mossman oversaw Amber's work on Burger King's "Whopper Virgins" campaign as well as Old Navy work from Crispin Porter and Bogusky, the Brooklyn Brothers' Kayak work, Converse for Anomaly and Nike and ESPN Nascar for Wieden & Kennedy.
Additionally, he's keeping in touch with old friends, including the DFA crowd. "Those types of artists are getting more and more interested in doing commercials work; I've got mates that wouldn't have pissed on an ad three or four years ago, now they're calling me up and asking how you get into these things."