In this interview with sound designer and music producer Guido Smider we get to know his creative studio, Smider, active on sound production and audio branding for media.
We also present his latest project, S-Noise, which aims to become a point of connection between independent musicians and media productions.
1. Tell us briefly how it all started. When did you decide sound was going to be your life?
Guido Smider: I have always been interested in music and sound in general: I play drums since I was a kid and soon enough I was fascinated by synthesis and electronic music, though I was an amateur.
I then moved to Milan to study musical IT and computing, then a series of events, which I’d call random, brought me to get in touch with some film directors and to start creating sound within the communication field. With directors like Marco Gentile and Leone Balduzzi we found a similar approach to creativity and we started working on advertising campaign with a fresh new approach, blending together music and sound design, which was rarely used before. Step by step I developed interest for international people involved in the same job, I created the studio, and here we are.
2. What is the specialisation of your studio? Did you use to offer different services in the past?
GS: Our studio is specialised in sound design and music production for brands and media.
Over the years we always aimed for timbre research to blend with the visual product, ranging between various creative styles, without focusing on our own taste, instead, always seeking the best sound possible for each specific project.
3. Would you tell us a bit about some projects you’re super proud about?
GS: One of our best projects this years is definitely the audio branding work for LaEffe Tv Channel, created together with Nerdo design studio.
We asked drummer Martino Malacrida to play in real-time on visuals; this approach guaranteed an amazing new identity to the project and it provided a very strong timbre characteristic even before adding harmonic elements.
Another project I liked a lot is the new promo campaign GGDB, we worked on it with director Marco Prestini. We were given complete freedom of choice in terms of sound… So we came up with an hybrid punk/electronic piece.
Finally, for Reebok Asian campaign, with director Saku we blended music and sound design to give the audience an immersive deep listening experience.
“I think this work truly represents our idea of musical creativity”
4. What’s the way you achieve your sound: do you use studio recording, found sound, analog equipment, digital plugins…?
GS: Our approach varies depending on each project, but I would say it’s always a nice mix of techniques.
“I believe our main goal is to bring to the next level the visual components, to surprise listeners”
Sometimes we compose and record our own musical parts or we contact specialised instrumentalists; we also synthesise with analog equipment, we record foley and we process audio to create sound effects. A crucial part is played by music libraries, either our own or from the web.
5. Why the choice of settling in Milan? Pros and Cons about it? In your opinion, how much does the physical location still matter in the contemporary media industry?
GS: Like I said, I studied in Milan and I believe it’s a stimulating place.
It’s dynamically always changing and it’s great for connection; there are a lot of foreigners, looking for a chance to play. Also, the most important Italian communication companies are here so it’s easier to connect with other creatives.
The biggest con is rent! But I think that’s a problem in every globalised big city. My dream would be in fact to be able one day to work remotely from some quieter place, to then go back in the chaos every so often. Aiming to get there.
6. Audio Branding could easily represent the most prominent aspect of future communication, yet it does not receive the attention it should, both from clients and customers. What’s your position about this statement?
GS: It’s a very particular field. In my experience it ranges from the making of audio for TV re-branding, that’s where big money and creativity freedom are, to the production for companie’s audio logos. For this second specialisation you may still struggle convincing clients that a greater use of sound could really bring a project to the next level, within an aesthetic of renewed communication.
7. Few words about your software unit Noiseplug? What’s its purpose and where does it differ from an industry-standard DAW?
GS: Noiseplug was my degree project, it’s a stand-alone application to create glitch/noise music, in the style of Raster Noton label. I actually made it to work on an audiovisual live performance some years ago. It’s practically a music instrument, so it can be played live and it works very well for that specific creative approach.
We then recently used it recently to create some musical glitches for OFFF Italia‘s end credits.
However, have a look down here, if you wish:
8. What would you say to aspiring sound designers interested in succeeding in the media industry? Where should they start from to build up their career?
GS: Music and sound in general are fields that constantly evolve, so studying all life is definitely necessary if you want to be able to experiment. I provide seminars sometimes and some students often believe that having basic knowledge of a couple of software is enough, almost as if computer would do the job for you; but that’s risky, indeed. You need full understanding of theory to adapt to the hectic and heterogeneous needs of real world industry.
9. How much do you rely on web communities and how much you prefer an ‘offline’ approach to get clients?
GS: Internet is a primary tool for me, currently we work with people from all over the world although we never physically met them, they trust us because of our public image and our portfolio. In my opinion this is amazing as it creates a purely meritocratic situation: You do a great job? Then, I will hire you for your skills, not for who you are.
10. We know you have a lot going on, any anticipations about upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
GS: Together with Roberto Bagatti we recently realised some audio branding for Rai thematic channels. We are proud of what we’ve done, because I believe this is a top project for Italian TV sound branding.
Now we are launching a brand new department under our supervision and artistic direction, with the goal of connecting emerging artists with various brands and media: it’s S-Noise.
“S-Noise is an agency for music , which will select independent producers and bands from everywhere in the world to be part of a musical catalogue that brands and media will interface with”
Hopefully cinema will be involved, too.
Our plan is to be able to provide high quality music by independent musicians to smaller yet valuable productions, basically by-passing major labels. Both the agency and the musicians would then obtain more visibility, working on creative projects of various kind. It’s a service focusing on music for media, offering few but awesome productions.
Thanks to Guido for his time, and good luck for everything!
Sound is his strongest passion and he is fascinated by its potential as a communication tool.
His creative approach combines technical skills and innovative experimentation, backed up by research and critical analysis, to contextualise creative solutions.
He is currently working with a wide range of collaborators, from creative agencies to audiovisual studios, independent artists, radios and so on.
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