As Naaman Snell tells it, he was a kid from a small town in the Midwest, who didn't know that becoming a Music Supervisor was even a career path. He moved out to Los Angeles in 2009, with a degree in Advertising and Psychology. Naaman was involved with music his whole life, as a musician and as a fan. So, when a friend in L.A. asked him what he really would like to do, Naaman replied that if there was a way to marry his love of TV, film, and modern story telling with music - he'd love to do that. His friend told him, "Oh ya, it's called a Music Supervisor, you should look into it." That's precisely what Naaman did! Fast forward to today, he is an award winning music supervisor at Aspect, who has worked on many great campaigns including Suicide Squad, Deadpool, Orange is the New Black, Batman vs. Superman, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, BoJack Horseman, Grace and Frankie, Beauty and the Beast, and many more!
How did you get into the music supervision world?
It was a weird trip. The first six months I was in L.A. I tried to talk with anybody who would give me five minutes. Not asking for a job, but just asking, how did you get into what you are doing, informational interviews basically. Eventually, that led to a series of internships, where I worked for free for about two years. I worked at a bar...you know... to live. Eventually, that led to a paying gig, and here we are today!
You were an intern for Liza Richardson (music supervisor for Hawaii 5-0, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Limitless) How was that?
Oh, it was amazing! It was just her, and I, and Frank Palazzolo, who I worked directly with every day. It was cool to be on the film and TV side of things, and get an introduction to that. I was with them for a little over a year and a half.
That's cool! So, now you're working at Aspect, which is mostly trailers?
It's all trailers and promos. We're a full service trailer house. We do everything from concepting to finishing, and everything in between. We've got a massive graphics department, we do all that stuff in house; writers, music, obviously editing, the whole thing.
Speaking of editing, the Suicide Squad trailer with Bohemian Rhapsody was masterfully edited!
Yeah! That was a really fun one. When we first started talking about potentially using that song, we knew we were going to have to use every part of it. Since everybody knows that song, and everybody loves to sing along with every part, we knew that if we were going to even attempt this, we were going to have to give the people the goods! You know, keep people excited by cutting the hell out of it, keep it stylized and exciting.
Yeah! It was seamless. And, all the gunshots and explosions were synched perfectly with the music!
Yeah, the editor on that project, that is just what he does. He's all about that stylization and layering, and accenting. He also did Kanye's Wolf of Wall Street, Batman vs Superman, and a whole bunch of stuff.
How did Bohemian Rhapsody end up being the song for the Suicide Squad trailer?
In the first round of competing for that spot, we cut six different trailers and presented them all, and they were all immediately killed. So, Bohemian wasn't even in our first round. We walked away from that meeting thinking, we probably have one more shot if we work really quickly. Then, the editor and I sat down, just brainstormed a bunch of different ideas. I was actually looking for a completely different Queen song that had some similar operatic moments to it, then, next on the playlist was Bohemian Rhapsody, and it just started playing, and he and I looked at each other and were like, you don't suppose...
Wow! And the rest is history. Sort of serendipitous!
I mean, yeah. I guess that is part of the creative process sometimes. Right place, right time, and just being smart enough to know when it is a good idea.
Absolutely! Do you see much live music?
Oh yeah. I probably go to two or three shows a week. I get a lot of personal enjoyment out of it. I love live music, being involved in the music culture, taking it all in. You're always listening with a Music Supervisor's hat on though, as much as you try to turn that off, you will hear a rhythm or some interesting sounds, and something will trigger you and you think, "I should remember this"! I take advantage of my notepad on my iPhone a lot (Laughs).
You've kind of answered part of my next question, which is, what do you do for fun, to unwind?
Oh, I am a video game nerd for sure. (Laughs) I have been playing some Overwatch, some Destiny. I really enjoy games where there's a story line to them. Video games are just a good time for me, because they've become so cinematic these days. They have amazing composers score the games...basically it's a movie you can play.
If you could pick a band or artist to do the next James Bond theme song, who would it be?
Oh man. I am going to have to think about that one for a second. (pause) Living or dead? Is it a dream list, or something that could happen?
Dream list, if you want Jimi Hendrix, that's fine! (laughs)
Wow, I think Prince could have done something amazing! Yeah...I'm going to go with Prince. I would have loved to have heard what that dude could have done.
Interviewer | Paul Goldowitz
Research, Editing, Copy | Paul Goldowitz
Special thanks to Naaman Snell.