Artist Studio: Sound Designer Keeps his ear to the ground on what rocks a brand

Craig Burgess, sound and music composer on the technical & artistic side of creating a music identity for a brand

Recently we caught up with Craig Burgess, founder and creative director at Deft Ear, a sound and music branding company while we were in Manchester. Craig and Quinteassential go back about couple of years when our founder, Bernadine, met Craig at an event in Manchester, and soon Craig started to create tailored sound for the Quinteassential experience.

Tea is a passion for many. When tea is combined with environment, art, innovations and sound, it has the power to ignite all the senses, not just that of taste. Sound is the element often too subtle to be considered when it comes to tea. There’s the gentle trickling of the water as it pours into the cup, there’s the slight crunch of the tea leaves as they’re scooped from the box. We wanted to find a way to elevate the sound experience to match with taste, sight, touch and smell.

Enter Deft Ear. Founded in 2016, Deft Ear boasts the duo of Craig Burgess and Joe Shorrocks, collectively having more than 15 years of experience in academia and sound industry. Craig is from a composition, music production and sound design background while Joe had worked for several game developers as game audio and sound designer. Despite their busy schedule, they also teach at Futureworks in Manchester for the music production degree.

ELLIE: When did you discover the passion for sound (music)?

CRAIG: Both co-founders have always been interested in the role sound and music plays in immersion and storytelling and wanted to explore ways we could use our expertise and knowledge to help our clients. The establishment of my own interest in sound in particular was really around the time I received a Fisher-Price child’s tape recorder for my fifth birthday. I would record everything from people talking, sounds of cars and nature to music and singing. From that I became interested in music more and more. Throughout school, I was involved in several bands and the technical side of sound for school theatre productions and live music events.

“I’VE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN HOW MUSIC AND SOUND CAN EMOTIONALLY CONNECT AND THIS IS WHAT EVENTUALLY LED TO THE INCEPTION OF DEFT EAR.”

ELLIE: Is there a piece of music that particularly inspires you like a gig or concert?

CRAIG: I’m going to be unbiased in this one and say I find all music inspiring in different ways. Every genre has something to offer in its own way. It’s like wearing different clothes to suit the weather. Music can change moods and fit emotions so it’s only fair to say that my taste in music changes depending on how I may feel at different times. When it’s warm outside you want shorts and a T-shirt, when it’s cold a big comfy coat and scarf. There is music that fits every occasion and emotional state whilst also serving a specific purpose – you wouldn’t really want to listen to dub-step in church or soft, delicate cinematic strings and brass at a club night.

This thinking is very much a catalyst behind our approach at Deft Ear. We want to understand the brand – what it stands for, what its story is, how it connects with customers and where – and use the existing brand equity, identity and understanding to provide a suitable sound and music strategy that compliments and enhances what’s already on offer in terms of 360 brand identity from visual to customer experience.

ELLIE: How do you begin to craft sounds for brands?

CRAIG: We have developed a process that we can tailor to each client to create a sound branding strategy that is unique to the requirements of the individual client. This includes several stages that determine not just what a brand or project should sound like but also how that sound and music identity will fit within the existing brand and project structure. We strive to really understand the brand narrative and how it engages with its customers through various touch-points and communications. We then work closely with the client to craft suitable sound and music content and assets that fit with these considerations.

This can include brand themes, sound logos, user experience and interactive sounds (apps, POS, products, etc.) curated brand focused music playlists, live music events, sound design and voiceover for online video content and TV adverts to audio-visual installations, sound effects and adaptive scores for implementation in games, VR and marketing experiences. The aim is always that sound and music should enhance and compliment the brand and project in the best possible way.

ELLIE: You know this is coming eventually – so tea or coffee? Why?

CRAIG: Tea, it’s a bit of a British institution really.

To find out more about Craig and Deft Ear, visit his site here.

With a thirst for unusual experiences and a love of culture, Ellie desires to see the world and shine a lasting beam of light upon it as she passes. Spicy, warm, soothing, healing and somewhat mysterious; that’s her down to a tea.