August 3, 2016 Tom Ito

Jesse Goodwin, VP of Music Supervision, The Hit House

VP of Music Supervision & Recovering Punk Rocker

Jesse Goodwin has been a fixture of Trailer Music Supervision in Hollywood since 2003 and most recently joined The Hit House as our first VP of Music Supervision.

Prior to joining The Hit House, Jesse was a Music Supervisor since 2011 with Seismic Productions and had won two Golden Trailer Awards, but we wanted to know the other unedited side of Jesse. So we hit him with some queries which he kindly answered for us in between music search party sessions, walking the dog, and yelling at the composers to “Work HARDER… and FASTER… and BETTER!” Below, the reveal.

What is “music supervision?”

In its simplest terms it’s putting music to picture. In more complex terms, it’s finding, or producing the perfect piece of music within a limited budget to play against a wide variety of mediums like films, commercials, video games, TV shows, etc. In realistic terms it’s some authority figure telling you what his daughter is into, that they only have 30 bucks to clear it and to get them something like it in 2 hours.

How did you get into music supervision, what was your path?

I spent four years at what some would consider a very prestigious film program. After emptying out my savings (and begging my parents for the rest) for my Senior film I realized the only thing I enjoyed about it was finding and composing the songs. So I got a job in TV post production right out of college trying to work my way up into the music department while spending most of my time stoned in a Subaru getting coffee. Every time I got a step up, the show would be canceled. A friend from college called me and said she was working at a start up trailer house called Big Picture. She basically said they needed someone with my skills of operating a motor vehicle while really high and dropping off things to important people. But since they were so small I could also, “Run the music department.” After about 18 months we went from 6 employees to over 20, and I was a legit music supervisor.

Do you play any instruments or pursue any artistic expression yourself?

I was in punk bands from about the age of 15 onward. I mostly sang, but I also played guitar in a couple. Also, I play drums and a little piano. Pretty much as soon as I graduated college, I was out on the road touring with every weekend, hiatus, vacation day I had. My most successful band was called “Majority Lost.” We got to tour with some of my idols, release a few records with small labels and got to play all over the US and Europe. But it became very clear a few years ago that being a punk rocker was a hard life. I was tired of motels, the hangovers, the inertia of being in a band and the fact that no matter how popular we got there was never gonna be enough dough to pay my mortgage. I took a step back and realized that some where along the way I had become a pretty successful music supervisor, thought to myself “Well its not ‘Punk God’ but still a pretty cool title,” and thus I moved on from the van life.

What was your earliest memory of music and the first song you fell in love with?

Okay, this is going to be the least cool answer. But my most vivid memory as a kid was road trips with my family. My dad went through this phase where he just fucking loved The Eagles. I remember getting into fights with my brother over who got to sing along to the next track on “Hotel California.” I think it is where both of us learned to sing harmonies. Jump to a few years later and I was an 11 year old in the “pit” (if Eagles have moshpits) of the “Hell Freezes Over” tour with my pops. Side note: first time I ever saw him smoke weed too.

What is your favorite genre of music in which to work?

Ha. Well I love punk of all time periods, but I very rarely get to sync it. So I guess the most honest answer is I like any piece of music that works. Cause it makes my client happy. And a happy client is a less stressful existence.

What is your process for finding the perfect music? 

I’ve always said Music Supervision is “Creativity With a Right and Wrong Answer.” There are so many people you have to please before your work sees the light of day. I’d say my process starts with what I think is best for the project. Basically what I think is the coolest piece of music for that certain trailer or scene. Then you sort of whittle it down as you get into budget and what your producer, director or client are looking for. Somewhere (way) down the line you always find common ground.

Are there any skill sets that you’ve developed as a music supervisor that aren’t specifically related to music?

Well, I’m married and I have a toddler. So I guess patience?

What hobbies or other interests outside of music inform your work?

After I quit touring I put myself through culinary school on nights and weekends. So I’m super into cooking and try to keep learning and progressing. It’s a great outlet for creativity. Maybe one day we’ll have “The Hit House Burger Emporiums.”

What is your greatest strength as a music supervisor?

I think I care less about being a “tastemaker” and more about what works. Breaking the coolest, unknown bands is great but that’s not really what we do. Especially in advertising. We are finding the best possible piece of music to sell the product. It’s totally awesome if you get to break a band that way, but it’s not what I’m setting out to do. I’ve also developed a very sophisticated Client-To-Artist dictionary that is able to interpret client-speak into musician-speak.

How do you work within the construct of The Hit House?

I mainly try to make Sally not mad at me. Which requires I wear a lot of hats. My first goal was to make The Hit House full service and be able to offer all of our clients top level music supervision. The Hit House is top of their game in catalog and custom scoring, but until now they couldn’t offer the other side of the music game. I also try to shape our upcoming releases and staying on top of where the industry is headed so we can stay ahead of trends. Lastly, I’m another ear as we are writing custom scores. Or as the composers here would call “Just one more jackass giving us notes.”

How did you and The Hit House first begin working together?

When The Hit House started their catalog it was almost exclusively comedy. I was working at a trailer house that primarily did big comedy trailers. So it was a love at first sight scenario. They are so much fun to work with that it just sort of continued as a symbiotic thing as Scott and the team got better and better at different genres and I could use them for everything.

What’s your favorite piece of music by The Hit House in an Album?

Well I can tell you the track that I think hasn’t gotten its huge back end yet. “Radium” off of the “Chemical Re:Action” album. Goddamn I love that track. I used to pitch it all the time before I worked here. I just think it’s gorgeous. Cut up against almost any drama or action or sci-fi. It just gives me chills.

How do you see The Hit House fitting into the greater framework of the Music Industry?

Right now, we are still the little guys. People know us and love us because we are super selective as to what we release. You never have to wade through the shit to find the diamond, cause if it sucks we don’t release it. The quality control here is annoyingly strict. The same goes for our custom work. Scott and Sally are never letting anything out the door that doesn’t sound great. So I guess to answer your question, we are sort of like the Hitmen? No pun intended. Not many people know we exist, but we solve all problems quickly and quietly.

What is a common layperson’s misconception about music supervision?

No, I do not just get to sit around and listen to music I like all day.

What advice to you have for those interested in the music supervision industry?

Just to have a broad knowledge of all genres. You very rarely get to just work with your favorite types of music. You will have to spend an entire day listening to Radio Disney or flamenco or covers of “Walking On Sunshine.”

If you could put anything onto a billboard anywhere, what would it be & what would it say?

It would be every ten miles on the freeway “Hey Jackass, if you aren’t passing stay right!”

What are the top 3 performers you’ve seen in concert?

That’s a tough one. Probably Ray Charles, Guns and Roses and A Wilhelm Scream (this super technical metal/punk band from the East coast).

What are your top 3 music albums?

Thrice – “The Alchemy Index”
NOFX – “The Decline”
Stevie Wonder – “Songs in the Key of Life”

What album would you give as a gift?

An iTunes gift card.

What was the song of your first dance at your wedding?

Otis Redding “These Arms of Mine.” My wife is a HUGE Otis fan, so not like I was really given a choice.

What song/music makes you cry (if any)?

I am no joke close to tears any time I hear any version of “Landslide.” That’s all I can say about that without tearing up.

What song/music do you listen to while driving?

I mostly listen to 90’s punk if I’m driving or in the gym. Bad Religion, NOFX, The Vandals, Descendants. Its just the one type of music I haven’t gotten sick of listening to for work purposes.

Is there any music you do not enjoy?

I don’t think I’ll ever understand Country Rap. Like, if you like rap and country why aren’t you listening to good rap and good country? I like Philly cheesesteaks, and I like frozen yogurt, I don’t want to eat a horrible combination of them.