Music production house Ker Sound is keeping it interesting while maintaining its position as one of the best music production companies in Shanghai.
Building relationships that matter
Benjamin and Greg
Just behind the high fashion shopping boutiques of Xintiandi, Ker Sound has been producing music for China’s most recognizable TV commercials and ad campaigns for over seven years now. Greg Yu and Benjamin l’Hotellier, two French music producers already based in Shanghai at the time, founded the music production house so they could do things differently. “We wanted to create a place designed around specific needs we foresaw coming in the industry” said Greg. “The era of giant studios with an enormous NEVE consoles was long gone, instead what we needed was a super flexible setup so we could deal with producers, directors and clients constant requests for fast delivery and regular revisions”.
Ker Sound位于上海新天地时尚精品购物中心的大楼里，七年多来，公司为中国最为知名的电视广告和广告活动制作了诸多音乐作品。Greg Yu和Benjamin l’Hotellier都是来自法国的音乐制作人，在创立公司之前，他们就已经在上海了，后来决定成立自己的音乐制作公司，这样就不用墨守成规了。“当时我们希望成立一家公司，能够满足未来行业的特定需求，” Greg如是说。“大型音乐制作公司，大型的NEVE制作设备的时代早已一去不复返，我们需要的是非常灵活的环境，因为制片、导演和客户经常想要我们快速交付成果，也有反复的修改”。
Ker Sound’s services are expensive for the China ad market but clients are willing to pay for the quality and service that their reputation provides. “Our mixing facilities are calibrated to Dolby specifications, allowing us to deliver 5.1 and 7.1 surround mixes. We have a dedicated team of sound designers and mixers. In that sense, we are the only one with all these assets under on roof in Shanghai.”
“DS Spirit” (2012)
Client: CITROEN; Agency: Saatch&Saatchi (SH); Production: A New Life Films; Director: Ho Nan Hung; Music: KerSound
The team encourages clients to come by the office, sip some coffee, and sit in their fully equipped sound studio simply so the music being composed is fully appreciated, understood, and listen to. Spending more face time with the clients or producers eases communication issues Ker Sound believes, as language barriers and simply a general lack of awareness towards music composition can unnecessarily complicate the process.
Ker Sound in some way is trying to elevate the status of music composition by bringing it into the creative planning earlier. “It is cheaper to hire some guy producing in his studio apartment but what we offer is another level of feedback, whether that’s during the pre-production bidding process, or client relations, to post production services”. The music requirements for each project are certainly different and sometimes only require a small team or one person, but for those project that do demand more feedback and client service, Ker Sound has the full set up.
一定程度上，Ker Sound也尽量在创意筹划阶段就早早参与，目的就是为了提高音乐制作的质量。“找一些自己在单间公寓里制作音乐的人确实比较便宜，但是我们所提供的却是更好的反馈，不论是前期的比稿阶段，还是客户关系，抑或是后期制作服务都如此”。诚然，每一个项目的要求各不相同，有时候确实只需要一个小团队或者一个人的工作量，但是有一些项目却需要更多的反馈和客户服务，这时候Ker Sound就有全套的服务了。
Founder / Composer / Producer
Greg and Benjamin learned early on the value of building quality relationships to succeed in China’s ad industry. Their first big success in the commercial world here was a sound track for an Audi A6L campaign. Working alongside local production company MiC for this spot was something the team will never forget. It consolidated their belief that quality work can only be created under these sorts of close, collaborative relationships.
From there, “the business plan kind of blew up” Greg laughed. They landed TV projects for The Amazing Race, China Rush. Following this they were asked to produce the soundtrack for the first 3D animated Chinese feature film. In 2010 they got contracted to work for Ferrari for a whole year, most notably on the music video for the Anniversary of Ferrari cars appearance throughout the history of cinema, a dream come true for their team of car and film fanatics.
A “family feel” in the office
There are now seven full time staff in the studio. Greg and Benjamin have put a lot of time into creating a “family feel” in the office. It is certainly a unique challenge to build a quality team in such a niche industry. For the time being most of the team is from China a part from Akira Terao, who is originally from Japan and who spent much of his early career in New York City. When necessary the team taps into their network of freelance composers or musicians.
In the future, Ker Sound is looking into setting up a music label in China, specializing in TV commercials and film synchronization. They would hope to set up exclusive rights with Chinese artists and overseas Indie labels in China. “Hit songs and Chinese artists have not yet been fully integrated into China’s advertising landscape” Greg shared “and Ker Sound hopes to stay on the forefront of these developments”.
在未来，Ker Sound想要在中国建立自己的音乐标签，专注于电视广告和电影后期录音合成。也希望能跟中国歌手和海外印度唱片建立独家版权合作。“热门歌曲和中国歌手目前还没有完全融入到中国广告行业中来，” Greg表示，“Ker Sound希望能够首当其冲促进这方面的发展”。
“ABSOLUT Night China” x Edison Chen 陈冠希 (2017)
Client: ABSOLUT, Vodka; Agency: TOMORROW; Production: PUSH Media; Director: Kristian Kvam Hansen & Jonathon Lim; Music: Ker Sound
Music to pictures
Besides producing music for the commercial world, Greg and Benjamin like to diversify the type of projects they take on, which have include feature film work, TV shows, video game soundtracks, and collaborations with Indie bands and artists. “We are very versatile and we get to experiment with a wide variety of projects, people and cultures. At the end of the day though it is still music to pictures and it’s all about how to convey emotions or messages no matter what the medium”.
Greg and Benjamin make it look like setting up a music production house in China is easy. Their efforts and expertise certainly have not gone unnoticed by the advertising community in China. Staying relevant and growing in China for over seven years is no small accomplishment. With continued effort, curious minds, and a little bit of luck they hope to keep in that way for many years to come.
Client: AIRBNB; Production: StudioStare; Director: Petter Eldin; Post: MPC; Music: Ker Sound