Five Questions: Jason Kramer, Music Supervisor, Elias Arts

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Five Questions: Jason Kramer, Music Supervisor, Elias Arts

On Spotify, His Favorite Spot of All Time, and What's on His iPod

Jason Kramer is serious about music. Influential, too. He’s the music supervisor at Elias Arts, where he helps make musical matches in commercials from the likes of Pepsi, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti and Kia. He’s also a DJ at iconic L.A. public-radio station KCRW – in fact, he was recently bumped up from an overnight shift to a higher-profile 10 p.m. Saturday spot. You can listen to his latest show here. At the same time, why not read our Five Questions for him?
Q: What are you working on today?

A: We work on about four or five commercials a week at Elias Arts in our Santa Monica office. So far this week we are working on a few car spots and developing the sound. We are now working on a new, funny Superbowl commercial that will definitely make you hum this very well known song for months to come. We are also gearing up for the new winter season spots. I tend to dig these spots because, even though we all know the same songs, it’s always fun to spin our new fresh rendition.

Q: What’s the best tool or innovation you’ve found in the last year?

A: I think the most useful tool this last year is the introduction of Spotify to the US. It’s a fast, easy way to listen to various songs when you are looking for a specific idea. I also like the idea that I can share my songs with other Spotify users and vice versa.

Q: What project (film, television, commercial or music video) most impressed you in the last year? Why?

There have been some many things I have been impressed with this last year, from the incredible soundtrack of The Walking Dead to various spots – including many of our own spots, such as the Pepsi and KIA campaigns. It’s a hard comparison to the VW spots in the 90’s where music was really incorporated as part of the story. One of those is my favorite spot of all time, the commercial where the song “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake was featured. What made this great was a whole new audience was introduced to an artist who was almost forgotten. I remember that Ryko started reissuing the albums, which ended up selling more after his death then during his career.

Music in commercials is as important to the spot as the visual, since it sets the tone and brings the emotion. As a music supervisor, my job is to make sure both of those things come across. The right music could be an original score, a well known licensed track or something from a library – the key is finding the right piece of music to make the spot the best it can be. Commercials are like mini-movies in about 27 seconds. That is the challenge. Having one of the best teams I have worked with really makes that challenge smoother.

Q: What’s the best, or your favorite, project that you worked on in the past year? And why?

A: I really enjoyed working on Super Bowl spots because of the creativity that goes into making them. The ones I remember are Audi’s “Release the Hounds” and also Budweiser’s “Tiny Dancer.” Those spots took more than a month to complete. I also had fun with the Pepsi spot that was a spoof on Field of Dreams called “Clubhouse”. I hate to leave them for last, but the KIA spots with Sock Monkey and Muno from the Yo Gabba Gabba club are another favorite of mine. These were more music supervision jobs where we used The Heavy’s “How You like Me Now” and the band Those Darlings with their gritty track “Red Light Love.”

Q: Who are the top 4 artists on your iPod?

By this time next week, I will have changed my iPod selections, however right now, I do enjoy a few bands that strike a cool chord with me. These are some of my few: Alabama Shakes, Phantogram, Sigur Ros, Nneka

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