The relationship between Niels Docter and Sizzer Amsterdam hasn’t always been one of smiles. Upon the young drumming DJ’s first attempted foray into the Amsterdam-based music agency and adland, a senior producer pipped him to the post. But he tenaciously kept knocking at the door and got himself an internship supporting the creative team, before landing a fulltime job just a month later. He has now supervised campaigns for the likes of BMW, Martell and Schweppes, and is bringing in some of the agency's hottest composers of the moment. Niels tells LBB's Addison Capper how cookie jars played their part in his life-long love affair with music.
LBB> Where are you originally from and what kind of kid were you?
ND> Originally I’m from Uitgeest, a small village close to Amsterdam. I was quite a hyperactive kid; always banging rhythms on anything I could get my hands on – mostly cookie jars. Later on I got my first drum kit at the age of eleven.
LBB> What inspired your love of music and how do those inspirations cross over in the music you work with and listen to today?
ND> I decided to take my parents’ music collection and drum along with it. Subsequently I gained a lot of interest in practically all music genres. When I was 18, I started playing the drums for Dutch ska/punk band ‘De Hardheid’. In the following five years, playing shows and spending time with the band, I learned a lot about music and decided I would always want to be involved with it.
LBB> Can you tell us a bit about your role at Sizzer?
ND> As a producer I’m responsible for getting the right piece of music for the right film. This involves creating ‘moodboards’, keeping an eye out for talented composers, a lot of editing and mixing, and, of course, making sure we get the right composers in on the right job.
LBB> Just a year ago you were DJing - what drew you to Sizzer and advertising as a career?
ND> Over a year ago, the vacancy for fulltime music producer caught my attention and I immediately responded to it. Having seen the work Sizzer puts out I was confident this was where I wanted to work. I had a couple of great talks with Sizzer but in the end they went with a senior producer.
I was totally bummed out about it. I visited my parents who live in Australia and asked them what to do. They told me I should keep knocking on the door, and I did. I mailed Sizzer again and offered to do a free internship. That turned out to be a good move because after a month of supporting the creative team I already had my own project. A month later I was working fulltime as junior producer. That felt pretty good.
LBB> How did you find the transition from working with music as a DJ to working with it in commercials? What were the trickiest parts of the shift?
ND> The transition was quite smooth because, in my opinion, the roles are quite comparable actually. You just want the perfect music for the right atmosphere. Of course there are differences. With DJing you work within your own style or genre, but now as a producer I work with any style or genre.
The trickiest part, and the part that took some getting used to, are the deadlines and fast turnaround. Things need to be done quickly, so you often have to think fast and be able to make quick decisions.
LBB> What kind of role does music have in your personal life now that you're working at Sizzer?
ND> Music is an even bigger part of my life now because I’m always on the lookout for new talented composers and artists. That means I get to go to even more concerts and meet more great people. It also means I receive and make an almost endless amount of personal Spotify playlists!
LBB> What else do you get up to outside of work?
ND> I still do the occasional DJ set, and I’m involved in some music projects as a drummer and producer.
LBB> Which particular projects that you've been involved with recently have you particularly enjoyed and why?
ND> I really enjoyed working on the new YOU commercial. This project involved having a song composed in New York, having kids from Los Angeles sing the top-lines, and was all was coordinated from the office in Amsterdam. It’s a classic example of getting the right people on the right job. Also the different time zones everybody worked in were interesting. It resulted in working on this project from 12 to 12 daily.
LBB> What does 2014 hold for you?
ND> In 2014 I’ll keep rocking at Sizzer, and do my very best to stay up to date on all developments in the world of music. Also, I would love to start up a new band again and do a little summer tour with them.