shots Hero Sam Ashwell on the sound of muses
750MPH’s head engineer Sam Ashwell namechecks the people who’ve influenced his sound vision, from trainer designers to dirty bassliners.
“Where words fail, music speaks,” said Hans Christian Andersen, and one of the masters of making music and sound speak is 750MPH’s head sound engineer and creative partner, Sam Ashwell, who has brought his amazing aural abilities to projects for brands such as Nike, Waitrose, Axe and Volkswagen.
Who were your heroes when you were starting out in your career?
I had so many heroes growing up, not necessarily from advertising. All of the guys below shaped the way in which I see the world and how I represent it in my work today.
Ben Burtt [sound designer, film editor]
He was responsible for switching me on to film sound design.
This trainer designer had (and still does have) a huge effect on my taste, my style and my wallet!
I grew up on drum and bass. I learnt to mix by standing by the decks night after night and watching him, dissecting his sets and trying to copy his style.
Danny Bukem [drum and bass musician, producer and DJ]
This is when I started to hear mad sounds rather than just dirty basslines. He helped me explore so much other sound and music.
There were/are so many good producers/designers of this style, but they were the ones who showed me first that sound design could be music and vice versa.
Walter Murch and Randy Thom [sound designers]
I’ll group these two. I remember checking films I rated, and their names would appear.
At 21, Dave was a better sound designer than 99 percent of people are today. Dave and Mike Wallis are hugely responsible for where I am at.
The best skateboarder that ever lived. I idolised him in my teens.
Shigeru Miyamoto [video game designer and producer for Nintendo]
He helped shape my teen mind.
Who are the creative heroes currently working within the advertising industry?
I’m trying to figure out what the term creative heroes means to me. If it’s people I respect, then the creatives and directors who go through months of exploration and work to get their idea made, batting away clients’ fears.
“It always amazes me how much money and time can be spent getting a piece of work made and sometimes how little time and money (and thought) is put into the sound process…”
And what about the creative villains of the industry?
Whoever is responsible for money dictating the creative process. It always amazes me how much money and time can be spent getting a piece of work made and sometimes how little time and money (and thought) is put into the sound process, though there are obviously lots of exceptions to this.
Who or what do you think might be the creative heroes of the future?
From a sound design perspective, those that can embrace the tech but not get lost in it, those who have a strong sense of tone, pitch and rhythm but not necessarily music, those that listen to the world around them and those that can interpret a brief and feedback. It’s the kids, innit!