“I don’t compose the music, if I did it would all be Metallica songs and we wouldn’t be where we are today,” laughs Cassiano Derenji F. de Mello, one of the co-founders of award-winning music company DaHouse Audio. “Lucas [Mayer the other co-founder of DaHouse] is the one behind the composition.”
The Brazilian, who is now based in Berlin, is describing how the balance works with co-founder and childhood friend Lucas Mayer at their award-laden music company DaHouse Audio. For the past eleven years, the pair have combined their love of music with their creative industry know-how to create award-winning music for some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies. Now with offices in both São Paulo and Berlin, DaHouse’s enviable list of clients stretches worldwide and includes the likes of Hyundai, Sony, Puma and Samsung to name a few. In 2019, they were one of the first companies to win a Titanium Cannes Lion, for the Uncensored playlist
, alongside collaborators DDB Germany and Media Monks.
Above: The ‘Uncensored Playlist’ project for Reporters Without Borders used music and streaming platforms to tell stories which had been censored in different countries. The work won a Titanium Lion in 2018.
The project, made on behalf of Reporters Without Borders, achieved worldwide acclaim by making use of a censorship loophole - stories that would have been censored in countries with oppressive press regulation were turned into songs that could be hosted on music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. A total of ten stories, written by five critically acclaimed journalists, were successfully released.
Asking the duo the history behind their continued success, they tell us it all started with their childhood friendship.
“We went to school together in a city called Porto Allegre and we’d always bonded over music. We even started our first band together”, recalls Lucas, “after school we went separate ways but we both spent some time working with or for ad agencies. Cassiano worked in several agencies in account roles, whereas I had pursued the commercial music route, so we were often in touch with each other. When the opportunity arose to bring our skills back together, this time for a business rather than a band, I knew it was the right step for us. And fortunately, Cassiano’s music knowledge is far broader than his Metallica set list!”.
The friendship approach also extends to the way the pair grew out their teams in Brazil and Germany. “For us,” explains Lucas, “it’s always been friends first, work second. For example we have five composers at DaHouse, four of which are also producers. But with all of them it’s been a case of getting to know them as a friend and working together comes naturally off the back of that”.
Such a personal approach lends its own advantages when it comes to what DaHouse is able to create. It seems they have even developed their own language to answer briefs in the most original way. “Most companies use a lot of the same words when they want to describe the music they want to make”, says Cassiano. “But for us, we kind of have our own vocabulary - we will never say ‘it needs to sound more indie’, it will be more like ‘let’s have a bit of blik blak’ and we all understand what that means!”.
The team’s unique approach is what actually landed them the job for the Uncensored playlist. In addition to their day to day, Lucas and Cassiano have several side-hustles which have not only extended their diverse creative portfolio but have also turned into lucrative business.
“Me and my wife actually did this TV show in Brazil”, says Lucas, “called Le Tour Du Monde. We’ll basically travel the world composing songs on the streets, with the local people we meet. A few years ago, we were in Berlin and that’s where we met Ricardo Wolff, who is an awesome creative director. He loved the show and so when Felipe Cury, the art director of The Uncensored Playlist mentioned us in a meeting a year or so later, he knew we were the right people to call”.
But the ingenuity doesn’t stop at Le Tour Du Monde, Lucas adds, “while working with high-profile clients is always its own reward (“we love any chance to create something original”, says Lucas), part and parcel of working in the industry is that no client will give the green light to everything you make…”
But for DaHouse, even ‘no’’s have turned into opportunities. ‘The Client Said No’ is DaHouse’s band-within-a-company, and their hits include all the songs which were turned down by clients
. “We dress the songs up in a way that makes them sound more like they’re made by a band, but yeah, it’s all of the songs that we couldn’t get past a client. We even took them on a ‘European Tour’ with ‘gigs’ at Cannes and other events. It’s a super satisfying way of giving meaning to that work, and making sure nothing goes to waste”.
As well as making the most of the group’s creativity, the project has also heralded some unforeseen advantages. “It’s crazy”, says Cassiano, “but true that one time we had a song up there which wasn’t quite right for a camera brand we pitched it to. But within a couple of days of it being on Spotify, we had someone from Puma’s in-house agency asking if they could licence it! So you never know just how far your work can really go”.
True to DaHouse’s prolific form, The Client Said No are still very much active in releasing new material. “We had a new song go up just the other day called Home, all about the insane lockdown we’ve found ourselves in at the moment”, says Lucas.
Above: Listen to The Client Said No’s latest release, ‘Home’, inspired by lockdown
For a company originally based in the southeast of Brazil, DaHouse Audio is gradually becoming a worldwide institution. “It was hard to know what came first, my move to Germany or the Uncensored Playlist project with DDB Germany” says Cassiano, “But we have taken big strides since, right now we’re working with an animation company in China, and another project in Singapore which is just so cool”.
“But the important thing for us right now is to keep going”, adds Lucas. “To keep making new friends and to keep finding new people to work with. That’s where we want to be!”.