BRIAN BRASHER’S MUSIC STARS IN BIG-TIME MOVIE TRAILERS AND MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
STORY: Muriel Vega
PHOTO: Loli Lucaciu
Musician and composer Brian Brasher first dove into the music industry during his college years in Tallahassee, Florida, when he was a founding member of the rock band Creed. Collaborating on two of their number-one hits (“What’s This Life For” and “One”) made him realize he was passionate about the other side of music—the business itself.
After leaving the band and acquiring sales experience at radio stations nationwide, a chance meeting with the head of marketing at the record label BMG exposed him to their music licensing division, which did background music for everything from TV shows to video games. There, he quickly learned he had an eye for picking captivating trailer music.
Brasher transitioned to another firm where he continued to catalogue trailer music and kept getting drawn to one particular composer, Veigar Margeirsson. The Iceland native had composed the trailers for Batman Begins and Ocean’s Eleven, and the two quickly became friends as well as business partners.
In 2012 they co-founded Pitch Hammer Music and started to produce custom music and tracks for film trailers and theatrical marketing campaigns. In addition to composing, Brasher leads the company and is tasked with forming strategic partnerships, while Margeirsson focuses on managing composers and overall production.
After a movie is filmed, and the footage gets sent to the trailer house to make those ubiquitous two-minute teasers, it’s time for the Pitch Hammer team to add sound to evoke emotion and/or excitement. They’ll either pick something from their extensive catalog or compose custom music based on the studio’s vision. “We’ll give them a couple of options—here’s a dramatic idea, and here’s a big, epic idea—as a starting point,” says Brasher.
For example, for the fantasy thriller Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg, the studio requested a teaser of the “Pure Imagination” track from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Pitch Hammer deleted the vocals and replaced them with a 60-piece orchestra for the melody part. “They didn’t want the audience to know right off the bat what [song] it was, but just use the hook and make it recognizable,” says Brasher.
To make the process more seamless for trailer editors, Pitch Hammer also developed a catalog of “cool, crazy sounds” called Trailer Fuel. “Some of our composers love sound design, and they go out and record sounds from all over the place. For example, they will burn something and record it,” says Brasher.
With offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Iceland, Brasher and his team have found success in composing trailers for blockbusters such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mad Max: Fury Road and Deadpool, plus video games such as Call of Duty. He says that in 2017, they were in more than a quarter of the marketing campaigns for major studios.
When recording in Atlanta, the Buckhead resident taps old friends such as the Zac Brown Band and Collective Soul. He’s in talks with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for upcoming projects and to add new compositions to the company’s music library. “We want to continue to grow and expand our artist-friendly catalog of bands for TV and film,” says Brasher.
Brasher has moved across the country multiple times throughout his life, but in the end, he ended up back home in Atlanta. The growth of the film and entertainment industry in Georgia has cemented that decision. “It’s almost like the timing happened coincidentally,” he says. “I just love Atlanta.”
PITCH HAMMER MUSIC
Atlanta-based tech and culture writer with an undying love for Buford Highway and its multicultural communities.