You merge two companies. You get used to your new partners. You hope more business will come in. You wonder if you’ve made the right decision. It’s all very normal. The merger of Nylon Studios and Squeak E. Clean has been anything but normal. Spectacular seems to describe it aptly. The new partners are thriving together. They know exactly why they made the right decision. Work is flooding in.
The idea for the merger came from an off-the-cuff comment by two executive producers. They couldn’t be happier about that. Simon Lister and Sam Spiegel have never worked harder than they have since Squeak E. Clean Studios was born. That’s a thrill. And it shows in both of them.
“Then I saw how well their company is run.”
Sam Spiegel: I really admired Nylon’s artistry when it comes to sound design, mix and music. But first I had to really like the people in this “marriage” and they’re very good people – generous and genuine. That drew me to them. Then I saw how well their company is run. They really know how to take care of people. Not only do they foster the same kind of family environment as Squeak E. Clean’s has always had but they also have the best client service you could imagine. I felt that, and it includes the charity work Simon does, was a very admirable quality. We also gained international reach.
Simon Lister: We have been doing work in America through our NY office but we were always in competition with Squeak E. Clean. They were presenting tracks and we were presenting tracks and these guys are the next level with music – incredible composers, artists in sound. Plus they have a really amazing music culture that was incredibly appealing. Obviously, a lot of agencies and high-end film directors around the world use these guys because of their music quality and level, but also because of the culture that these guys brings to it. It’s cool, it’s young, it’s hip, it’s something that draws you. Adding that to what we were already doing in sound design and music gave us a much bigger resource to offer our clients. Also, America is an amazing territory for us. Being able to expand more there and have really good control of the whole of America was something we wanted to do. Being in New York Chicago, Austin and Los Angeles really covers the whole country. It was also the perfect marriage of the two companies. We had no redundancies, we fit perfectly into each other. They had everything we wanted and we’re helping them in management. It’s awesome. It was a no brainer. And obviously Sam is a great person to hang out with and work with.
“Now these guys have taken it to the next level”
Lister: Creating this new brand and offering it to our industry means that we can offer this whole American element to our Australian clients and any artist is reachable. The composers up there do incredible work. Sam’s brother is Spike Jonze, that’s another layer of excellence. The work we’re doing now is the best in the world.
Spiegel: Everything we do now is absolutely best quality. These guys [Nylon] are some of the best sound designers in the world and now we’re bigger, we can handle more. When NY and LA are sleeping, Sydney’s on it. We’re a 24 hour machine, so we scale work in a bigger way and offer a lot more for every project. Our work still has the same ultra-high level of creative direction, taste and artistry but there’s more to it. The way we took care of our clients at Squeak E Clean productions was OK. These guys have taken it to the next level. We have the best of everything – the best client service, best music, best mix, best sound design – and we can offer it all as a package so you don’t have to go anywhere else for your sound needs.
Lister: I’m enjoying the fact that we have high level of female employment here. More than half of our people, from producers to composers are women. That has been fantastic for us.
“One studio spread across the world”
Lister: We work together every day. We’ve created this whole platform that is completely networked in the cloud so I can just hop onto LA’s folder in the cloud and start working on their work without having to drag it off servers and put it onto a hard drive, sending it. We’re all on the phone to each other every day, all day long.
Spiegel: We thought it was important not to silo because we feel it’s important to have a point of view. There are a lot of companies that are pretty generic. Their offices don’t have much relationship with each other. We have everybody collaborating, working together on different things, so there’s this global point of view that’s really strong. If it was siloed, one studio mightn’t have the same in one genre so whatever comes out it isn’t achieving the same level of quality. We want everyone to be across everything to maintain a consistently high level of quality.
Lister: We have multiple creative directors as well who oversee the music jobs work together to get the best result to deliver to the client. It feels as though our quality of work is the highest it has ever been.
“Things have shifted but we’ve spent a lot of time-shifting with it.”
Lister: We’re in a forever changing environment. I guess we’ve been lucky in that we try to be boutique-ish in our offering and we get to work on some of the higher-end ads that still need to be produced for big clients. There’s still work out there. It has changed a lot but we’ve been lucky with our relationships with our clients, our branding and who we are in this country and America. We still get a good percentage of the work that’s out there. I love to have the feeling of pioneering what we do in the audio sense and that’s what this merger is doing for us by having American studios and artists within our scope. We offer a lot more than just doing a mix.
Speigel: One thing that’s cool now is that there used to be a stigma for artists to work with brands. Now artists have opened up and realised that brands offer a great platform not only to make money but also to get their music heard. We do a lot of work with big artists and we do a lot of advertising, so brands come to us for that, we’re known for that. They know that we can link with top artists and that we really know how to work with an artist. It’s not always super easy to do that.
The other cool thing is that brands are a lot more open to doing more unique advertising – things we love doing. We’ve even been acting as a creative shop for brands outside of just doing music or sound, like Simon did with UNICEF, working on the creative concepts, filming and editing the work, doing the sound, screening it and talking about it at the UN.
Last year, we worked on an awesome campaign for Impossible Foods, for example. The brand wanted to do something with outer space that integrated earthly love and appreciating earth which it stands for. We worked with Impossible Foods’ in-house creatives, who knew we’d worked with Wu Tang Clan quite a lot. Together we developed a whole show and series called Wu Tang in Space eating Impossible Sliders. It’s sci-fi like Star Trek but with Wu Tang as the crew.
I co-wrote it and directed it with production partner, Hey Wonderful. Then we did a series of events for them, managed the PR and social media. That’s from conception to production to completion and even dissemination – we even got the word out about it because we know how to generate noise within lifestyle and music plus sound. We love doing stuff like that where we can think of the thing, do the creative, make the thing, execute the thing live, get the word out AND do the sound design, music and mix. I don’t think there has ever been a time when you could do something like that.
“The vast majority of our work is advertising but there’s lots of other stuff.”
Spiegel: Right now in Sydney, the guys are working on a nature documentary series for Discovery Channel – three one hour docos on the big cats in Africa. It’s cool. It’s what we love working on. We do a lot of experiential stuff – we love doing it.