If you’ve been anywhere around a TV in the last six months, you’ve probably caught Fitbit’s successful ad ‘Find Your Fit‘, featuring an upbeat tune by composer Seth Olinsky of music house Barking Owl.
Seth says Fitbit’s agency initially sought a contemporary classical sound, but shifted gears and came back with the ad’s signature quick series of lyrics, along with their plan to sync the lyrics with matching actions on screen.
“It definitely drew on my artistic and songwriting experience, and my love of rock and roll; going for a double-time, visceral energy,” Seth explains.
So he picked things up to a “breathless” pace. Also, because the commercial features lots of people getting their sport on, Seth opted to layer the voices on the track to make it feel like ‘everybody’s exercising’.
“I wanted all the voices to feel like everyone is participating,” says Seth. “It sort of marries everyone’s personal experience with exercising.”
The result has been a hit project for Seth, a seasoned musician, songwriter and composer basing his music studio both in Laurel Canyon and Joshua Tree. Seth and partner Ali Beletic also produce their own record label and a stellar magazine, both named ‘Lightning‘.
Seth’s professional music journey began in the kitchen of guitar mentor Dave Brumbaugh, where he and some friends first started studying music theory. Brumbaugh’s teaching talents would eventually manifest into the Uptown Music Collective.
Another early influence for Seth was working with minimalist composer Rhys Chatham, for whom he became a section leader for Rhys’s 100- and 200-guitar orchestras, performing at Lincoln Center as well as internationally.
Studying jazz at Berklee College of Music, Seth’s musical interests and styles began to broaden. After school, he dove head-first into free jazz in NYC.
Seth at last found his pocket within the Brooklyn music scene, where he and childhood friend Dana Janssen teamed up with Miles Seaton and Ryan Vanderhoof to form Akron/Family in 2002.
In 2004, Michael Gira of Swans and Young God Records produced and released the band’s first record. Akron/Family also recorded and toured with Michael as his band Angels of Light, making nine more records on Young God in the next seven years.
Moving to California in 2013, Seth linked up with Kelly Bayett, Barking Owl’s Creative Director, to explore the world of composing TV and commercial music.
“Kelly and the team at Barking Owl are amazing to work with,” says Seth. “They are a hyper-creative company that works on a lot of really exciting projects.”
Turns out, composing is a perfect fit for Seth.
“Composing for film and TV has been a really amazing process for me—both as a way to access all of the theory, composing and productions skills I’ve learned over the years, as well as an expression of all sorts of different types of music that I don’t always access in my artistic projects.”
Seth says patience and adaptability have been key traits that have helped him along the way.
“I find my approach changes from job to job, depending on what they’re looking for,” Seth says, adding that the elements of variety and ‘play’ are crucial to him. “It’s really different each time.”
Seth’s new solo persona, Cy Dune, allows him to explore rock and roll’s Delta Blues roots. He credits Patti Smith’s book Just Kids with inspiring him to ‘plug in’ and re-imagine music creation:
“The book really inspired a return to the power of rock and roll,” says Seth.
Cy Dune’s latest album ‘Shake‘ is certainly a testament to this. So are his compositions for 100 drums, and his work for 10 bands (yup, playing at once) that he’ll be staging at the Treefort Music Fest on Saturday, March 28th.
Be sure to check Cy/Seth out if you’re in Boise for the event!