What’s the difference between a good producer and a great producer? For New Math, the music and sound powerhouse based on New York and LA, there’s no singular, simple answer. But the connective tissue is always passion.
On its roster of producers, New Math is able to draw on talent with an enormously deep background in music rarely found on the outside of the studio wall. And yet, whilst pursuing their musical passion and interests, this group has found creative satisfaction within New Math’s production framework. So, what makes the life of a producer at New Math so creatively rich? And what does that mean for the kind of expertise the company’s clients can draw upon?
To go behind the scenes and get to know the stories behind New Math’s talent, LBB sat down with producer Margy Hayes, Jake Falby, and William Taylor…
Reflecting on her formative years, Margy paints the picture of a distracted child who would drop everything for the sake of music. “I was quite shy as a kid, but I found I was able to connect with people through music”, she recalls. “My career officially started on the day I first picked up the Oboe at the age of 12. I was able to be part of the school band, orchestra, and chamber groups, and it gave me an understanding of music as a language”.
If the oboe might seem like an uncommon choice for an instrument, for Margy that was always a part of its appeal. “It’s high maintenance for sure, but I’m drawn to the challenge of that”, she explains. “There were many late nights of crying and frustration at the beginning, but I was lucky to have brilliant teachers and mentors (including my Mom). If I hadn’t been able to draw on that network, I probably wouldn’t have pushed through the frustration and pursued music as a career”.
Today, Margy’s well-honed problem solving skills have found the perfect home at New Math. “I have a soft spot for short-form writing. There’s just something so cool and challenging about fitting fully-produced music into just 30 seconds”, she says. “It gives you plenty of tough decisions, and lends a defined and bold identity to whatever you produce”.
The modern industry’s multi-channel nature is also something that offers creative inspiration for Margy and the team at New Math. As she puts it, “different mediums make me a more well rounded producer, and I can hear that in my work. Everyone at New Math loves solving those kinds of problems, and that mindset is contagious”.
As for the oboe, Margy keeps returning to the instrument to this day. “I think staying close to the thing that can bring your music to life adds so much more nuance to whatever you write and produce”, she says.
For many in the industry, a passion for creative expression can be traced back to childhood. That’s certainly true for Jake Falby, who can recall asking his parents for a violin at the age of 5. “My dad is a classically trained flautist, and though he ultimately became a lawyer he’s also been a member of the New Philharmonia Orchestra in Boston for over 33 years”, notes Jake. “I’d grown up going to see him perform, and had always been fascinated by the violins for whatever reason. So I started violin lessons in kindergarten, and had a fairly serious classical training growing up”.
Despite that, it wasn’t until much later that Jake decided music was the right choice for his future career. “It wasn’t until I did my junior semester at the University of Buenos Aires that I decided I was actually serious about a career in music”, he explains. “Fate had it that my Argentinean ‘host dad’ Raul was a professional drummer. He allowed me to join a number of projects he was involved with, and pretty quickly I was skipping class to go on tour with his band”.
Today, Jake can already look back on career highlights including performances with the likes of Kanye West, Mariah Carey, and Adele. Despite his dedication and talent, however, it was a simple twist of fate which led him to join New Math.
“I was visiting LA from NYC to perform with Julie Byrne a few weeks after having won a few jobs for New Math as a freelance composer”, recounts Jake. “I just went out to Venice to say ‘hi’ to Dave [Wittman, co-founder of New Math] and finally meet up in person. I had no idea going into that meeting that Dave was in the process of moving to the Bay Area himself, and that New Math was looking for someone to run the LA studio. We ended up chatting for a long time, and by the end of it he’d floated the idea of me moving to LA to take on the job”.
As luck would have it, Dave’s suggestion had arrived at the ideal time. “I’d been working as a touring musician for years at that point, and was beginning to feel the travel grind”, explains Jake. “So I was excited at the prospect of starting a new chapter and running a studio”. And, with that, Jake decided to take over the reigns at New Math’s LA studio.
So for Jake, New Math represents the perfect home. “I think a lot of other music companies have a more profit-driven model and you feel that in the way they treat their people”, he explains. “At New Math the creative and the talent come first, both in terms of how we run the company internally and the way we run our projects. I think our genuine passion for what we do comes through in the way we’re able to consistently deliver outstanding creative work for our clients”.
For Will, music has been an ever-present. Whilst it may not always have been obvious that a career in the industry would be his path, Will’s childhood was interspersed with his Mother’s often-improvised singing and deep dives into his Father’s ‘impressive’ catalogue of ‘rock, British invasion, and Motown-inspired’ records.
“I got a guitar when I was about 10, and started getting together with friends and playing around in bands”, recalls Will. “During college, I got a more formal music education and a degree in music performance for classical guitar”.
While he may not have known precisely how he was going to get there, it was clear that music was Will’s destination. After graduating with his degree, he initially found work as a guitar teacher - during which time he learned skills which are proving useful in his role with New Math today. “The biggest skill which teaching has given me is clear communication. You’re taking musical ideas to people who don’t necessarily know the technical terms or theory, so having that perspective is really important”, he explains. “And as a teacher, you’re personally invested in your students. I’ve found that same commitment to be necessary on every job, regardless of the project. A bit cheesy, I know, but it’s true”.
As for his career with New Math so far, it’s been the result of hard work and dedication having started at the company by answering phones. “It has been such an amazing experience. Somehow I convinced them to take a chance on a guitar player and have since learned and grown so much, both musically and personally”, he says. “You may still hear me answer ‘New Math’ on the end of the line, though!”
Through climbing the internal ladder, Will is able to offer a unique perspective on what makes New Math such a special company. “I think musicians are collaborators at heart and are inspired by the creativity of others”, he says. “That creativity is the focus - New Math is not the kind of place where industry knowledge is paramount when starting out. What is important is the shared passion for music and collaboration”.
Having already worked on campaigns for some of the biggest brands out there, Will now has his eyes set on the future. “I’ve learned the importance of staying open to opportunities and new interests”, he says. “I want to keep writing along with producing. and hope to keep improving at both. I don’t know where this path leads but I’m excited to find out”.