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Amber Music: If You Love Music, It’s In Your Blood

Music & Sound
Brooklyn, USA
Amber Music's owner and founder Michelle Curran on what makes her live for this business

I’m the owner and founder of Amber Music. We are a multi-award-winning commercial music production company who have been creating, sourcing, and supplying music for quite a while now and I’m not ashamed to say I have extensive experience in this industry. 

Amber is one of the longest running companies in the business, but I sometimes wonder whether people feel that we may not be relevant in the 'new world' of advertising. We’re the OG, but increasingly it’s starting to feel like we are vulnerable to being written off or considered too old-skool to be relevant to today’s myriad demands and concerns. What crap. Age is no barrier, and that’s more than just a trending hashtag.

I know for a fact that maintaining relevancy takes effort, adaptation, and persistence; and these are all traits possessed by our great team. Most of all, as the leader of Amber, it is my own enduring passion and love for what I do that drives us. I live for this business.

In fact, I started out at Island Records, London’s iconic label, where I eventually went on to become head of promotions and artist liaison at Island Records. Whilst there, I was working with genuine legends of the industry including Bob Marley, Grace Jones and U2. Plus, I’ve years of experience working with the great directors and creatives of this business. Each one has taught me how to look at and understand what makes this art form great, and how to improve the average and make it spectacular.

I love what I do. It keeps changing, the landscape is always shifting. But, for me, it’s always been a visual thing. When I started out, my best break turned out to be working with the legendary director Tony Kaye. He taught me how to look at a picture, and understand what kind of score would be needed, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with other great creatives including Tiger Savage, Nick Worthington and John Gorse, all at BBH and each of whom helped me hone my expertise and my craft. 

Amber’s commercial for Johnny Walker is a great example – and of course, studying Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini was certainly no hardship, especially since I was working remotely from the Amalfi Coast at the time. The music had to be filmic and evoke a certain ambience, so we borrowed from the Old Hollywood aesthetic, hitting that pitch-perfect retro note but making it sound fresh for a new audience. By contrast, our more recent work for Mercedes demanded a punchier, thrusting soundscape which needed to be current and engaging to convey the excitement and liberation of that drive.

After all, 80-90% of human decisions are emotional ones. Music can be used to manipulate emotions and so the role of music in advertisings comes with great power and responsibility. This is why we put some much effort into every piece that comes out of our house Each track is crafted with intent. Nothing is accidental. 

I take a fierce pride in my work – it is vital – and I am proud to have instilled that trait in those who have worked alongside me in production, as well as those I have mentored as new talent. When you work with Amber, you know you’re here to learn how to provide clients with something which has been painstakingly reviewed to meet the absolute highest of standards by all involved. Mike Perri, Amber’s senior producer and music supervisor, started with me as an intern and has been my right-hand man for 11 years. He brings a different perspective to our company, having spent years touring with various independent bands. He’s seen the effect music has on people and has outlasted many due to his attention to detail, pride and passion for music and for his work. 

If you love music, it’s in your blood. We pride ourselves on melding classic with the very best of emerging sounds – it’s exciting. My guilty pleasure is to tune into Gilles Peterson on digital Brit station, R6. His mix of electronica, house, hip-hop and afro beats are the soundtrack to my weekends. He regularly champions new talent and seamlessly mixes old and new. I think the most important thing for my work is to always be open, to listen to everything – rather than get stuck down a rabbit hole of my own favourite bands.

And, ultimately, I know we can’t rest on our laurels, that isn’t what this industry is about. I truly believe that we are only as good as our last job. Whether it is a win or not, we give every bit of ourselves to make sure it is done with passion, pride, and with an emphasis on relevancy now and in the future. 

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