“That's why the advertising industry suited me,” says Justin Pounsett, “there was always something different.”
As founder of sound and music house The Audio Embassy, Justin has worked in advertising for almost two decades. Despite seeing huge changes to the relationship between composition, music and ad creation in that time, his enthusiasm remains undimmed.
“Advertising gave me my start… and it suited my style of composition, which was – when I was a teenager – just about everything,” Justin says.
“They threw all manner of styles at me and I loved it – I knew how to play jazz, I knew how to play classical, I knew how to play rock, I knew how to play folk or whatever, but the industry nurtured that… you never knew what a client would ask for.”
Justin came to advertising almost accidentally. After teenage years spent identifying as the “music kid” at high school and then studying a broad-ranging music course at TAFE, he followed his musical talent into a series of bands.
Playing and composing everything from jazz to heavy metal, Justin was in a rich period of creative exploration. Unfortunately, performing in bands wasn’t netting him the paycheques to match, so he set out to find a job that would make more practical use of his skills.
After a frenzy of resume-dispersal, he found himself working at legendary studio Timms Tunes.
“I remember very early on… [studio owner Sean Timms] got Disney/Hasbro as a client and I was writing music for them… and that was great, it was a baptism of fire and it sort of just gave me confidence that I was able to hold my own,” Justin says.
Sean Timms encouraged Justin to set-up his own business and supported him with studio access and advice in The Audio Embassy’s formative years.
Justin has worked for himself since 2006 in an industry he quickly fell in love with, and he’s been excited to be on the inside watching as advertising evolves.
“Stylistically, everyone goes through a flavour and that constantly is changing no different to any sort of fashion industry,” he says.
“But there was definitely a change genre-wise or creative-wise, which still exists today, where everyone didn’t want their ad to sound like an ad. Everything moved away from the jingle… which sort of suited me because I really loved that people were coming to me to do pieces of music that just kind of sounded like something a band would make or would come from a film.”
Technological shifts have not treated Justin, or any advertising composer, as kindly.
With the advent of online platforms that make high quality off-the-shelf music widely available for relatively low prices, he’s seen a drastic shift in his business mix.
“It's an easy, cheap option and getting more and more cheap and easy,” says Justin.
“I can't knock it, some of it's great and it works, but I’m sure every person on the planet would agree that something that's curated is special. You know, you're spending all this money getting this vision done, and it makes sense to spend the money on creating something musically because it is your biggest emotional driver.”
In this changing environment, Justin is still busy – around his days spent working on advertising projects, his time is increasingly taken up by larger scale jobs like feature films and documentaries.
While the long-form projects have their own special joy (“you're putting people's emotions front and centre and it's a beautiful arc over 90 minutes,” Justin says), advertising remains a singular passion.
“My heart is still 100 per cent in this,” he says, “which is why I still support the AADC.”