More Than Just an Agency
Despite the Audio UX team working on various audio branding initiatives together over the years, we've never collaborated on a passion project until Memory Phase. In the early discussions around the EP, there was a drive to put our money where our mouth was. We wanted to push ourselves creatively as a team while exploring how we could use our branding experience outside of a traditional audio branding context. Our work always revolves around equipping our clients with a voice as powerful as any mainstream artist, so we decided to take our own advice and define AUX's unique voice through an EP of original music. With that in mind, our goal with Memory Phase became twofold: disrupt the common image of what an audio agency can be and soundtrack the nostalgia of Summer with an original EP.
Capturing The Story
As we began writing Memory Phase, we noticed the tracks started to capture all these different moments, vibes and emotions that we could easily relate back to our memories of summer. Even though the EP works linearly as the story of a summer day into a summer night, our idea was to have each track capture the emotion and space of a different summer moment. We wanted to transport the listener into all these different summer scenes that we've all experienced before.
Floreana and London are the backdrop to a day on the beach in the hot sun, sipping pina-coladas as dusk rolls in over the ocean. Losing You feels like a night drive down the West Side Highway with the windows down, the car encapsulated with hot summer air. Heat - Sink captures the contrast between being in the center of an insane party and stepping outside into the a cool summer night. Finally as night slowly turns to day, Vesper captures that sense of not caring where you are even if you're a little lost. We knew that sense of freedom and liberation that summer inherently possesses was really important for us to articulate.
That moment where Vesper’s distorted synth intro collapses into the painfully real and dry dialogue between rimshot and felt-piano is one of our favorite Memory Phase moments. It’s like being ripped from a lucid dream and awaking at the bottom of the Black Sea.
Summer to us isn't inherently upbeat or idyllic. We started to lean into and explore this notion that summer, in a lot of ways features a largely nostalgic emotional context and even a bit of melancholy. As you get older, there's this sense of longing for the summer that used to be – as the more youthful, carefree side of yourself. That feeling is something that resonates with us and we wanted to express that both compositionally and timbrally throughout Memory Phase.
Scoring a specific emotional feeling is always a challenge. Scoring a fleeting and elusive emotion such as nostalgia is even more tricky. We channeled our own nostalgia for the summer nights of youth into each track.
Crafting an Aesthetic
When we work on branding initiatives, we're always working alongside a set of guidelines and rules that keep the sound of a brand's experience consistent and unified. We treat every brand like a concept album and have to hold ourselves to the same standard. With Memory Phase, we wanted all the tracks to inhabit the same world and space. The sound needed to be objectively summer, but it needed to be summer through the lens of AUX.
To keep everything on Memory Phase within the same world, we used chord progressions and melodies that had some level of emotional ambiguity to capture that nostalgic feeling. Timbrally, we incorporated things that sounded old, vintage or hazy like a memory. Every track on Memory Phase incorporates a dusty synth pad instrument that feels melancholy and worn. We thought the timbre of the dust pad perfectly transported us into a memory of a hot summer night.
It was important to us to stay away from the stereotypical summer sound that's on the radio these days. There weren't many restrictions we agreed on except for banning the use of trap hats.
With three months of hard work and one 4am drunken argument in the rearview, we look back on the Memory Phase creation process with the same feeling of nostalgia that inspired its inception. On to the next one.