Music & Sound in association withJungle Studios

Thinking in Sound: Munzie Thind

Music & Sound
London, UK
One of Grand Central Recording Studio's longest standing members, Munzie shares the joys of collaboration, his love of Hip-Hop and why silence is golden

Munzie Thind is one of GCRS’ longest standing members and is responsible for a huge portfolio of critically acclaimed work acquired over the course of over 25 years.

A hip-hop b-boy at heart, Munzie’s love for sound sprung up from being part of an emerging creative culture in Gravesend when he was in his teens, encompassing graffiti artists, break dancers and musicians. He set up a record shop with his brother selling music and merch and regularly DJ’d. It’s this love for music that has allowed him to grow into one of the most sought after sound designers in the UK, universally liked by directors, producers, editors, creatives and composers (although he’d be too humble to admit this).

His most recent accolades are for the multi-award winning Argos ‘The Book of Dreams’. 

LBB> When you’re working on a new brief or project, what’s your typical starting point? How do you break it down and how do you like to generate your ideas or response?

Munzie> When looking at a director's treatment or the creative's script, the music and sound design section is always a good starting point to see what they have in mind.

Then from the brief or music suggestion, I look at how much of the heavy lifting the music & sound design will have to do. Lyrically, is the music "on the nose" or is it there to trigger the emotion i.e. to make you feel sad, happy, euphoric or reminiscent?

Then how will the sound design work in tandem with the music? In most cases the music carries the piece and sound design plays second fiddle (excuse the pun). 

That's when having the stems for the music is a great idea so you can create a bespoke version of the music to fit the film and allow the sound design to heighten the overall sound.

LBB> Music and sound are in some ways the most collaborative and interactive forms of creativity - what are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer to work solo or with a gang - and what are some of your most memorable professional collaborations?

Munzie> I have always believed that creativity and craft can benefit from collaboration. The sound designer is one cog in a massive machine. So if the writing is great, the performances the director captured are brilliant, and the editor’s edit is high quality, then all of these elements are collaborations. Personally I like to spend some time on my own so I can have a play and experiment before the director/creatives are in session with me.

I would say collaboration also allows you to try things that you wouldn’t normally try.   

My most memorable and enjoyable collaboration was when I worked with Codie Childs (music supervisor) at Leland and Chris Hill (music composer/arranger) on the Argos Book Of Dreams Christmas spot. From the get-go, the three of us worked in tandem and this gave the project a huge advantage and I think this shows in the end result – which has gone on to win many awards.

LBB> What’s the most satisfying part of your job and why?

Munzie> Ideas and working with talented people.

LBB> As th advertising industry changes, how do you think the role of music and sound is changing with it?

Munzie> Music & Sound Design's role in advertising is becoming more integral to storytelling as it’s no longer just about TV. Social media, digital platforms and podcasts have all added to the importance of having great sound. 

LBB> Who are your musical or audio heroes and why?

Munzie> Musically, Hip Hop culture has influenced me hugely. Producers like Large Professor, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, to name just a few. For me, it was the use of samples that opened up a whole new world for me. These guys were reinventing music essentially. J Dilla was sampling old vinyl and his sound was so fresh. 

Cinema Composers: The late great Enio Marricone, Lalo Schifrin, John Barry, John Williams. 

Sound Designers I admire in film: Ben Burt (StarWars), Randy Thom (Apocalypse Now), Sergio Diaz (Roma), Julien Slater (Baby Driver)

Also, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails has been using sound design in his film compositions. 

LBB> And when it comes to your particular field, whether sound design or composing, are there any particular ideas or pioneers that you go back to frequently or who really influence your thinking about the work you do?

Munzie> I try to research as much as I can for each individual project. Then, depending on what I think works to help the storytelling or narrative, I use references from work I have seen in the past.

LBB> When you’re working on something that isn’t directly sound design or music - are you the sort of person who needs music and noise in the background or is that completely distracting to you? What are your thoughts on ‘background’ sound and music as you work?

Munzie> As a sound designer silence is golden. You need quiet periods to recharge the brain, but it also depends on my mood. I spend most of my time listening so it's good to switch off from time to time.  

LBB> I guess the quality of the listening experience and the context that audiences listen to music/sound in has changed over the years. There’s the switch from analogue to digital and now we seem to be divided between bad-ass surround-sound immersive experiences and on-the-go, low quality sound (often the audio is competing with a million other distractions) - how does that factor into how you approach your work?

Munzie> I would say the switch from analogue to digital has made content more accessible and the jump to immersive sound has opened up a whole new world. I am a true believer in the idea and consideration of sound. So if you go to the cinema and watch a movie mixed in Atmos it heightens your sensations. On the other hand, a social film for your phone isn't going to gain any benefit from it but the sound still has a job to do. You have to approach each project accordingly.  

LBB> On a typical day, what does your ‘listening diet’ look like?

Munzie> I listen to a huge amount of music. Soundcloud is the place I find fresh music and also live mixes, something we’ve missed in the Pandemic. There has been a steady stream of DJ sets emerging from the Southern hemisphere again post-lockdown and it’s important at a time when we can’t go out to clubs or gigs. Spotify I use a lot and add to playlists constantly. Then there are some great podcasts that integrate sound design – you should check out George the Poet.

LBB> Do you have a collection of music/sounds and what shape does it take (are you a vinyl nerd, do you have hard drives full of random bird sounds, are you a hyper-organised spotify-er…)?

Munzie> I still have a large vinyl collection but because of space hard drives are a must & my Spotify is hyper organised.

LBB> Outside of the music and sound world, what sort of art or topics really excite you and do you ever relate that back to music (e.g. history buffs who love music that can help you travel through time, gamers who love interactive sound design… I mean it really could be anything!!)

Munzie> Because my love of Hip Hop culture Music, Graffiti, Break Dancing are all aligned, music and its impact on society and how it has changed the shape of history is a big passion of mine - for example rock and roll and the swinging sixties to the civil rights movement in America and here in the UK with Punk and Northern Soul. 

LBB> Let’s talk travel! It’s often cited as one of the most creatively inspiring things you can do - I’d love to know what are the most exciting or inspiring experiences you’ve had when it comes to sound and music on your travels?

Munzie> I love to travel and experience new cultures, food is a big part of this for me. Visiting India for the first time at the age of 14 was an avalanche for the senses and blew my mind including the sounds and smells.

Japan was one my favourite places to visit and I did a lot of fielding recording while I was there my wife thought I was going mad; everything from bullet trains to deers and nature. It’s a bit like a busman’s holiday but I always take a handheld recorder with me.

LBB> As we age, our ears change physically and our tastes evolve too, and life changes mean we don’t get to engage in our passions in the same intensity as in our youth - how has your relationship with sound and music changed over the years?

Munzie> I have definitely mellowed but my passion for music and sound hasn't. I think what does develop are your filters for quality music and sound. The world’s your oyster, you can pretty much search and download anything these days and you can listen to stuff you wouldn't normally listen to.

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