Adam Savage chats to one half of this new London-based audio post-production partnership to see what sets them apart from the rest.
Setting up a new business in an industry already teeming with big competitors is never easy, especially when we’re talking about London’s post-production scene, but that’s just what freelance audio engineer Greg Niemand and his business partner Evan Gildersleeve have done with their new venture, Mount Audio.
Described by Niemand as a small, boutique facility with new premises acquired in Hackney Downs, Mount’s aim is to offer a service that involves more audio experimentation than alternative packages that are commonly seen today whereby meeting ever-tighter deadlines is arguably prioritised over actual sound quality. The company is now fully up and running, with Niemand responsible for much of the sound design work and dialogue editing, and Gildersleeve handling mostly composition.
“We try to stay out of the box as much as we can because there are so many people with sound design packs and all these pre-recorded and pre-made things that are so easy to drop into people’s timelines, especially with trailer sound design. It’s something that I’ve always felt uncomfortable using,” explains Niemand. “We try to implement a lot of field recordings and everywhere we can we do a lot of contact mic recordings and [make it so there’s] something unique at the end of it. Because of that it hopefully sets it aside and makes it sound very different.
“With turnarounds and deliveries being so quick it’s something that’s very easy to rest on your laurels a little bit but what we want to do is the exact opposite – we want to get in on a project as early as possible, approach musicians and spaces and record these things that you just wouldn’t normally hear with digital content.”
From a purely pro-audio standpoint you have to admire the pair’s intended approach, but it’s becoming increasingly rare to find clients willing to allow enough time to really get creative with the sound for their advert, trailer etc. Niemand’s eagerness to achieve a standout sound design whenever possible is so strong that even when given the opportunity to do his thing, he can still find himself wishing he could do more.
“We’ve both got our existing relationships that we’ve been building for five years or so and they tend to organically lead into new relationships or recommendations. We did a really nice series of short animations with live footage for Persil [the ‘Monster Stains’ campaign that had a run in UK cinemas] and even then we really wanted to reach in and do as much Foley as possible,” he reveals.
Notable new projects since the move include two spots for Glenfiddich’s Experimental Series ad campaign and Chevrolet’s ‘AskManUtd’, which became one of the most shared videos online last month. The pair have also started work on BBC StoryWorks’ latest series ‘Wonders of Mankind’ in partnership with watch maker Vacheron Constantin and director Jamie Muir.
Speaking to Niemand, it seems he’s keener to talk about his vision for the firm’s future than geek out over equipment, but he did disclose some of his choice pieces of kit.
“We both use ADAM pretty exclusively for monitoring. We like the ART tweeters, especially for Foley or those kind of ambiences because that high-end is really responsive. The Roland Juno-106 is also something we reach for regularly and we’re big fans of the Arturia MicroBrute, which is just a nice analogue synth and mono option,” he explains.
“As for recording it’s either the Sound Devices or sometimes I like to go out with a little Zoom H6. My girlfriend’s pretty sick of the fact that whenever we go away I always pack a separate audio bag as when you’re going around you never know what you’re going to get. I have my own library that I’ve been developing over the past few years. It’s a nice little personal touch and a lead-in with clients and directors to be able to throw that stuff in.”
Niemand and Gildersleeve knew they had to bring something new to the table when they embarked on this expedition, and they can be confident they’ve now achieved that, not forgetting loyalty from certain previous clients brought over from the pre-Mount days, too.
“We are boutique and we’re not in Soho so we’ve got to put across something different – a unique soundtrack for each project and you can only do that with relationships really.”