Alex Collier and Josh Smoak talk 'Sound' at today's Creative Mornings CHS

Sounding off



PULP Gallery served as the setting for this morning's CMCHS talk. - CONNELLY HARDAWAY
  • Connelly Hardaway
  • PULP Gallery served as the setting for this morning's CMCHS talk.

Do you ever think about the music you hear in commercials? You know, the good, orchestral stuff that swells into a crescendo of joy or dives into some depth of sadness, right before a car logo pops up? (Don't act like you've never cried at a car commercial — here's lookin' at you Subaru).

Well, two guys in town, Alex Collier and Josh Smoak, co-creators of local music composition studio Eastward Music, spend their lives composing that kind of music. This morning they spoke to a packed house of Creative Mornings Charleston listeners at PULP Gallery.

Berklee College of Music grads, the guys know a thing or two about musical composition. After returning to Charleston post-college the two started Eastward Music, where they've composed music for commercials for Google, Honda, Nature Valley, and more.

"You have a blank slate as a composer," says Collier. He and Smoak show us an example: a battle scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. "The music is very cinematic, it gives the emotion of people running around," says Collier. The catch? The first clip we watched actually featured music composed by Collier and Smoak. They play the real clip, similar music soaring into our ears. Those feelings you have when you watch films like this? Those are created by these sounds.

Smoak and Collier showed us how the soundtracks for commercials are very similar to those of movies, just on a much smaller scale: Both ultimately lead to a climax. They talked even smaller scale about sonic branding, which is kind of like the invisible marketing that creeps into our minds without us ever knowing. The sound when an Intel computer turns on? You know it. Someone composed that. Dreamworks' film openings? Same thing.

"We're trying not to lose our minds in what we do," said Collier, admitting that a lot of his job as a creative is actually focused on the business side of things. So, to keep those creative juices flowing, Collier and Smoak have started releasing their own music — as artists. The first song off of their album, An Eastward Holiday, Vol. 1, is now available. Check it out here.

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