Dan Neale is the managing director of Native Music, a music supervision and production company working in partnership with leading London audio post house Jungle Studios. Every couple of months, they host one of the hottest tickets around: an early evening, intimate ‘unplugged’ music showcase called Native Lounge Sessions. Sixty people – staff, clients, guests, press – cram into the fourth-storey lounge/kitchen at Jungle in Wardour Street and listen to a clutch of songs by the likes of Whilk and Misky, Great Good Fine OK, and today, The Amazons. “We Were Evergreen were one of my favourites,” says Neale. “They have an inherent coolness about them.”
Tell us about your career Dan?
(Dan Neale): I started out as a musician, trying to be in bands and so on. Then I worked in an ad agency (Grey London) as a production assistant; I saw demos come in from companies, and I thought, I could do that! That’s when I became a composer: I did a Guinness ad; an Orange ad; a Galaxy chocolate commercial. After four years, I realised my strength was working with other composers, and helping them interpret a music brief; plus finding existing music was something I was really interested in. I went back into advertising at RKCR/Y&R (now Y&R London), where I was head of music for six years. I oversaw all things music, [particularly] outside suppliers. Eventually I came up with a plan to go independent again. Jungle Studios was looking for opportunities to expand, so we came up with the partnership of Native Music.
Did you bring this business to them?
Jungle had a music department, but they hadn’t done licensing and supervision before. So now we have a full range of services.
What’s the biggest campaign you personally have worked on?
The Olympics! I worked on the trail, title and broadcast package for the 2016 Rio campaign. Prior to that, in 2012, I worked with Elbow to do a 90-second trail for the London Games (called First Steps, recorded at Abbey Road). Our best-known sync is M&S Food where we placed the Clean Bandit’s Rather Be track. It became quite an iconic sync: other people would come in and ask if they can sound like ‘the M&S ad’.
PSNEurope joins you today after a showcase, this time for up-and-coming band The Amazons, who were on TV earlier this week and have been tipped for greatness. But what’s the point of these Native evenings?
These kind of showcases happen inside other agencies. I used to do them when I worked at Y&R London and I’ve been lucky to see some amazing performances from people. But acts are ONLY exposed to people at that agency. The difference here – for the bands – is that they’re exposed to different people – editors, directors, individuals from different disciplines. They end up in the forefront of people’s minds. It sounds a bit, far-fetched, but, for instance, at Y&R London, we did a showcase with a pianist called Phildel. She got commissioned to write some music and that was used in an ad for 18 months. It’s proof that these events do lead to other things.
What’s in this for Native?
Brand-building. It shows that we are affiliated with these acts, that we are connected, we are prepared to put these events on. When we started the company four years ago, it was an easy way to tell people about the business, without telling them, you know? We don’t have to say we’re a cool company, we just do a cool thing.
Why The Amazons?
I heard the material some time ago. I wanted a showcase that was a bit more raucous than the last few. The Amazons (right) were the perfect sound.
And the bands are hungry for opportunities…
It varies with acts. Some are open to showcases, some aren’t.
The performance space is quite straightforward, it seems: an HK Audio compact PA, rig, a Yamaha desk, Van Damme cables, a few mics..?
Joe is the music researcher at Native Music and also our in-house live music engineer. The most inputs we’ve had here, is Whilk and Misky, they had 12 channels. So, yes, it’s quite simple.
But that’s part of the magic, right? Unplugged performances, without the usual sheen?
The best gigs are the ones where they chat to the room and don’t pretend it’s a gig. Pretty much everyone turns up thinking, this is weird, why am I doing this? And they leave thinking, I’ve had a really good time, I understand the opportunities and the potential for exposure. It’s been interesting to see that transformation.
You’ve had these young, dynamic acts here: but then you had Billy Bragg too one Christmas! How come?
He was up for doing it, so we weren’t going to say no. Around Christmas, we try to get a more established act (Labrinth and Ed Harcourt have both played in previous years).
Bragg (right) said, people think of him as a political writer, but he just writes about his life… So he played a real cross-section of songs. He was amazing. He played for 45 minutes and the place was rammed. I was a bit nervous about him because of socialism and capitalism and advertising and so on, but he’s a lot more open-minded than people think!