New Math Music
Thu, 25 Mar 2021 15:50:00 GMT
It doesn’t take long speaking to Kala Sherman, David Wittman and Raymond Loewy to realise that music runs through the trio's veins. It’s rare to see quite so many instruments in the background of a Zoom call - three guitars, a keyboard, and a drum set squeeze into David Wittman’s background as he talks LBB through the story of how the three partners cracked the formula for New Math, a craft-obsessed music and sound company based in New York and LA.
Between the three of them, Kala, David, and Raymond boast decades of experience in producing audio for commercials, brands, and films. Whilst Kala and David had been partners for years, it took a chance encounter at an industry event to add Raymond, himself a music and sound veteran of nearly 20 years’ experience, into the equation to create New Math.
So, what made the trio decide to set up shop together? And what makes New Math such a distinctive proposition in the world of music and sound? To find out, LBB spoke with all three founders…
“I can remember standing on a beach chatting to these guys for the first time,” recalls Raymond. “They seemed low-key, pretty chill, clearly super-creative. They asked me how it was going and I said y'know, it’s pretty good - my company finally got two things in the Super Bowl this year. They seemed very politely impressed. After about 10 minutes or so, of course, I learned that they had three things in that year’s Super Bowl alone!"
As far as first meetings go, it was fairly inauspicious. Over time, however, the trio would develop a friendship and working relationship that would eventually evolve into New Math. With offices on both coasts of the US, the company utilises both the talent and the infrastructure of its founding members. It’s a formula that ensures New Math is a company which adds up to something greater than the sum of its parts.
The reasoning behind the name, however, runs deeper than that. “When you’re in a room making music with someone,” explains Kala Sherman, “one of the more abstract parts of the process which you can’t quite name is that there’s nothing particularly new about all the components you’re working with. They’re the same notes they’ve always been, and you’re just trying to rearrange them into something new.”
None of which is to downplay the work New Math does. After all, this is a studio drawing on multiple award-winning talents with work for some of the biggest clients out there under their belts. “As strange as this might sound, I like to think of us as being a bit like an old Italian tailor,” says David Wittman. “Sure, you can head out and buy a $50 suit from a chain and that’s great, it will probably fit fine. Down the road from the discount store however, there’s an old Italian tailor stitching by hand. And that’s where you pay more for a tailored suit that fits perfectly. So yeah, you can pay a set fee to needle drop a forgettable Migos track which will work fine before everyone forgets it - or you can get a bespoke score which will make something that lasts. That’s how I see our role."
Since New Math started out, the company has already set about work which speaks to that quality-first, craft-obsessed philosophy. Recently, the company turned heads at the Superbowl with its work on Uber Eats’ Wayne’s World revival. “That was one of the pieces of work we did that most had me cursing the pandemic”, recalls Raymond. “Because it was one where I just wanted to be at a Super Bowl party, tapping people on the shoulder and saying ‘hey, we did the audio on this’."
“It was a tricky but rewarding project to work on, and not just because - y’know - it was Wayne’s World,” notes Ray. “We learned there was a difference between the theme from the movie and the theme from SNL, which was obviously important in working out what we actually had rights to. And then you had the question of how exactly it should sound in a modern context. It was one of those jobs we got a real buzz out of collaborating on.”
Above: New Math provided the audio for Uber Eats’ revival of Wayne’s World for the Super Bowl.
That appetite for collaboration is a theme which underpins many of New Math’s most creatively satisfying projects. “The best projects, I think, all tend to share a few things in common,” says David. “There’s a kind of confluence of the relationships you’ve been building up, the production savvy of musical talent, and a little bit of the endurance you need to pull off great work.”
“I think there’s a Walmart project we did which is a great example of all of that”, says Kala. “Firstly because it came about through a strong relationship with a client where we’d both earned each others’ trust. But then it was also a testament to our capabilities that we had six rooms full at one time, working on licencing, editing, arranging, you name it. It was a crazy amount of work but we did it all in-house. So being in the room together, all hands on deck, getting the project done on time and on budget was especially rewarding for us.”
Above: New Math created all of the audio for supermarket giant Walmart’s campaigns in-house.
Much like its origins, it seems the future for New Math is set to be rooted in the appreciation of great craft, and the expertise needed to bring projects to life. “What’s so encouraging about working with New Math now is that I get to frankly hide behind the next generation of composers who are coming on board!”, laughs Raymond. “It’s amazing, they completely get it and there’s so much talent there. It makes me kind of proud, honestly - that we get to be rebels together, going against the ‘off-the-shelf’ trend and championing bespoke music.”
“That’s exactly it,” agrees David. “In the future, I want to be showing more people the joys of bespoke soundtracks that we love to create. In the same way as that Italian tailor, there’ll always be new people who get to try out your stuff for the first time and that’s one of the best feelings you can have. The ultimate feedback you can get is an ECD saying ‘wow, that was just next level’”.
And just like the old, revered tailor, it’s that passion and commitment which will ensure New Math’s work stands the test of time. “Whatever the future holds, there will always be demand for original sound.”
There may only be 12 notes to choose from - but it only takes some New Math to add up to a fresh sound.view more - Company ProfilesNew Math Music, Thu, 25 Mar 2021 15:50:00 GMT