By Clare S. Richie
Next time you watch television, close your eyes and really listen to the commercials. If the spot is for the Braves, Hawks, Krystal hamburgers, or Baskin Robbins — what you’re hearing is the audio work of Tunewelders, a music creation and sound production company. Their projects include commercials, films, musicals, theme songs, video games and more.
“There are a lot of music and audio challenges our clients don’t know how to solve, but we help them figure it out,” explained Ben Holst, Tunewelders producer and creative director.
Housed at the iconic Atlanta Southern Tracks studio, where artists from Bruce Springsteen to Pearl Jam have recorded, Tunewelders continues to produce sonic perfection. With beautifully tuned rooms, an amazing collection of microphones, musical instruments, and both vintage and modern recording technologies, Tunewelders is more than a studio, it’s a service.
The four-man team – executive producer Jeremy Gilbertson, producer and creative director Ben Holst, composer and technologist Jason Shannon, and chief engineer and sound designer Vic Stafford – are sought after in music, film, television and advertising industries due to the depth and breadth of their expertise. If you’re one of 200 million viewers who watched the 2013 Super Bowl, you’re sure to remember the standout Doritos spot, GOATS4SALE, in which Pogo Pictures vision was enhanced by Tunewelders sound.
Most projects start with the client’s idea. “Sound design is often recording something on the fly and manipulating it. Instinct takes over,” Ben said. Once, to create the sound of a skim boarder 50 yards away for a Weather Channel piece, Ben recorded the light scraping of a credit card across the top of his arm to be in sync with the action on screen.
“Ice cream doesn’t make a distinct noise,” Ben joked, but Baskin Robbins’ agency 22 Squared wanted audio to evoke a “Spidy sense” of amplified hearing as the viewer seemingly flew over large images of scooped ice cream. Ben recorded the sound of dropping ice cubes into a hot cup of coffee to simulate freezing motion. Jason then layered this sound into a convolution reverb to draw out the requested sense of cold space.
To hear Tunewelders’ latest project, check out Dad’s Garage Theater Company’s new musical, King of Pops: A Post-Apocalyptic Musical. The show is performed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening through May 30 at the 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points.
Mike Schatz of Dad’s Ensemble has created a whimsical musical about Atlanta’s popsicles and rainbow cart. It’s his imagined story of founder Steven Carse, who leaves the corporate world and faces battles of epic proportions to pursue doing what he loves. Carse approved the main idea and then gave Mike space to spin this fantastic tale.
Outside of the theater world, Mike is the creative director for Blue Sky Agency.
“Ben and I collaborate on a lot of commercial projects,” Mike said. So, he reached out to Ben and Jason to compose and produce the music for his play. This was an easy choice since “Tunewelders also pursues what they love.”
“Mike would sing his original lyrics into his iPhone, and we would take it from there,” Ben explained. Ben and Jason would build the songs layer by layer and continually tweak them to suit each character, then each cast member, and finally the stage.
“Jason transformed my songs into symphony pieces, giving them depth and size they needed for the show. He made my humming sound much better,” Mike reflected.
For Tunewelders, each project is often a “walk of faith” from idea to the actual produced music. It’s a process in phases that always includes client collaboration and pride in the final production. With the growing entertainment industry in Atlanta, these guys are sure to stay very busy.
For more about Tunewelders, visit tunewelders.com.