As briefs go, the one from 26 and D&AD has to rank as one of the most pleasurable. The task was simple, take a wander through the Awards archive and write a few words about something beginning with S.
There’s a great selection of work in there, no matter the alphabet, and I was easily distracted by all manner of things that I wasn’t supposed to be looking at. But back at S, and in Advertising, campaigns for Sony PlayStation and Scottish Courage were close contenders. In Graphic Design I beamed at johnson banks’ Black Pencil-winning stamps and swooned all over everything ever entered by Sagmeister and Farrow Design’s beautiful work for Spiritualized.
But it was Sound Design that won my heart. From the first time I saw it, to watching it again just now, everything about Street Music is simply brilliant.
It was made for 1xtra, one of a group of digital-only stations created by the BBC to explore DAB radio. Coming into the 21st century, popular radio seemed to be on its last legs, a victim of the ways in which people accessed and owned music. iPods, mobile phones and the internet were king. Mix tapes were consigned to geek history for this was the era of playlists, file sharing and school kids using their mobiles as horrible tinny mono ghetto blasters on the bus.
I never have been the target audience for 1xtra but that doesn’t stop this 1-minute film from touching me. Street Music gets to my heart. It reminds me of being a teenager and of how the airwaves were my holy grail. Too young for clubs, late night radio was the only way to get a musical education. I spent most nights underneath the duvet with Andy Kershaw, John Peel and a torch, my fingers ready over the pause record buttons.
When you’re young, music can be overwhelmingly important. Both an expression of and escape from the world you’re in, it can help to make sense of things. The people who made Street Music got that. In another context the location might seem grim, the montage menacing. Watch it on mute and you’ll see what I mean. Like many great films, the sound design changes everything. Suddenly there’s humour and insight, the world is a playground full of young people finding their place. That’s what’s magical about music and sound designers Parv Thind, Nick Gordon and Joe Guest (who also cut the film) nail it. I think it’s one of the most perfect 60 seconds of film you’ll see in the archive and a wonderful example of why a D&AD Award matters – because craft matters.
Here’s the spot:
1xtra Street music from we are fallon on Vimeo.
Have a gander at what other writers found on their rummage through D&AD’s archive.
Archive Dive is curated by members of writers’ group 26.