Meet the Supes: Q&A with Oliver Hild

Q. How did you first get into the music industry?

A. Theoretically, by playing in bands in high school and college. But we all know, truthfully, playing tiny venues is just working in the alcohol business until you really make it as an artist. More directly, my first experience in the industry was through interning in a small division at Universal Music Group and then additionally at Universal Music Publishing. My first job out of college was with UMe, Universal Music Group’s special markets division, and my boss there was one of my supervisors at my first internship. How about that?

Q. Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?

A. I’m currently working on Season 2 of Midnight, Texas (NBC). It’s fun because we use a ton of music. It’s sort of like True Blood with less nudity and cleaner language, and aside from trying to infuse some ‘Texas flair’ where we can, there aren’t a ton of rules to how we use music so it’s a great playground to be placed in creatively.

I’m also in the middle of Season 2 of The Sinner (USA). It’s a new season with a whole new cast (except for Bill Pullman’s character who returns) but the overall style from Season 1 has been retained. This is the first show in a long time, which I can remember, where when I watch it I forget that I’m even working on it. I truly get lost in the story and forget about my job. It’s so good! That makes it extremely fun to find music for because the show is so compelling and strong that the music we use is more about staying out of the way of what is genuinely a beautiful work of art. I’m never “fixing” or “saving” a scene with music, instead, it’s pure story, all the time.

Lastly, I’m pretty excited about working on the upcoming spinoff for USA’s Suits called, Second City, which will star Gina Torres reprising her role as Jessica Pearson from Suits. It starts shooting later this September, but am looking forward to continuing the saga with the amazing music we get to use on Suits. We use music that I actually listen to!

Q. What do you think of the Canadian Music scene?

A. I know that relatively often I go, “This is pretty great, what is this? Oh. Hmm. They’re from Canada. I’ll be darned.” Generally speaking, it feels like being an artist in Canada is seen as a real job, even sometimes subsidized by the government. Not like in the U.S. where being an artist is because “you’re weird” and don’t know how to live a normal life.

Q. Aside from value and/or ‘buzz’ factor, what are some of the benefits of placing music by an unsigned or independent artist?

A. They can literally eat that week and put gas in their van to get to the next gig on tour and maybe feel like the hard road ahead of them is not completely wrought with nasty potholes of misfortune… what’s that Hunter S.Thompson quote about the music business having thieves and pimps running free in a trench? Sorry, I was just riffing off of that.

Q. What’s the #1 song you’re dying to sync in a piece of media (a film, TV show, video game or ad/trailer), and where would you like to use it?

A. “To Here Knows When” by My Bloody Valentine in a scene where you find out the story you’ve been watching was all just a thought in someone’s head and never really happened. I don’t think the project I’d need for it has crossed my desk yet though.

Q. What’s your favourite sync moment of all time (in any piece of media)?

A. “In Time” by Robbie Robb used in the middle of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure where Bill & Ted inadvertently end up in the future instead of visiting the past and begin to learn that their band that they haven’t started yet, Wyld Stallyns, is the reason there’s peace and harmony on Earth still in the future.

Q. What are some of the most common mistakes you see independent artists make when they want to approach or pitch music to you?

A. They send me an email with an mp3 attached that says “track 1.mp3” and if I manage to ever put it in my database, there’s zero metadata including their contact info. I don’t necessarily need descriptors, I just need to know as much information as possible about how to contact you or someone who can license this track when I do need it cleared. 99% of the time I’ll need it cleared really quickly too.

There are A LOT of artists. It’s a beautiful thing, but sad as it may seem, you’re way better off getting to music supervisors ears by going through a reputable licensing agent/rep/label/publisher/library, etc. There are too many artists in the world to keep track of individually and your odds of getting serious consideration go up tremendously if I’m listening to your music via a trusted source with whom I have regular contact.

Q. What’s the most unusual way a piece of music that you’ve used has come into your hands?

A. I needed the sound of someone “noodling” on acoustic guitar in roughly a Latin style for a show set in Mexico for several episodes, so I reached out to an artist friend I know that can write bespoke stuff really quickly. He sent me back stems of a song he’d released a decade prior that included his attempt at Spanish-style guitar playing which had been mixed very low into the song. He wasn’t proud of it and told me to keep it a secret but that I could use those stems. It worked perfectly and we licensed them from him. I guess now you all know.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced as a supervisor?

Being tasked with replacing “At Last” by Etta James for a cold open of a brand new series. It couldn’t be done. We had to find the money and just make that happen.

Q. If you had to describe your personality in one song title. What title would it be and why?

A. “I Got The Feelin’ ” by James Brown. We’re all pretty intuitive beings. I try to tap into that when I can and not overthink stuff, which I still inevitably always do. But I strive for the gut. As was often the case, who knows what James was going for with the lyrics on this one though…

Q. What are some artists or songs that you’re really excited about right now?

A. Lately, anything by Jacob Banks. His voice is just enormous. He could sing about bumble bees and I would take it VERY seriously.