Music expert Joy Tillis tags the next scoring trend in spot music

Joy Tillis of WJOY Music is Chicago’s leading music supervisor, or “search artist,” as she calls it. For the past 12 years she has connected ad agencies’ commercial music needs with the labels and musicians that can fulfill them.

Working out of a Wicker Park loft with a skyline view, she sits at a desk amid an awesome library of several thousand CDs neatly catalogued and stacked to the ceiling.

Even more amazing is her memory of a song ? she’ll hum it for you – a title, a composer you never heard of, and not only a label, but its provenance. Her clients are Chicago, New York and Midwestern agencies with globally important advertisers.

Given her unique skills, Tillis was the perfect person to see in search of the next big music trend in commercials.

REELCHICAGO: So what’s your secret? How do you spot a trend?
TILLIS: When I hear many different agency creatives request the same type of music, so to speak, I can feel a trend coming. I also am privy to “insider info” with new music releases, story swaps with peers and friends in the business. I can get a lot from the sources, but it’s really the agencies that decide which movements they want to act on.

RC: You said you saw the retro phase a few years back. How did you tag it?
TILLIS: I saw it coming directly from the Mike Meyers movie, “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” and that led to the ?60s “Laugh In” music and girl group songs to happen. I had a strong feeling about retro, and a couple of jobs later it paid off in the form of spots for Orbitz and Metro One phone I worked on.

RC: What’s the current emerging trend that you can put your finger on?
TILLIS: My call is that whimsy is here and will be around for awhile. Whimsy is driven by the stories and the humor in many spots. That’s where clever copy lines are delivered with background music, setting the viewers up for a smile or even a laugh at the end, some twist that calls for this style of?background scoring.

It might be the application of an instrument, like a tuba, bassoon or certain types of horns or drums, or it might be a teasing chorus that has a clever message. It sets you up so you know something fun is coming.

What is whimsy?? Here are some synonyms:? fanciful, capricious, notional, eccentric, quixotic, fickle, fitful, erratic, amusing, quaint.?Sound like today’s advertising??

RC: Can you give us some whimsy examples in spots?
TILLIS: Twice the need for this style emerged in the past two weeks of agency calls to me, both for major advertisers. One agency asked for “high energy with wry humor and changes.” The other requested “laid-back nostalgic with moderate tempo.”?These cover a lot of ground and show there are different forms of whimsy.

RC: You say this is an excellent time in commercial music.
TILLIS: Because of the calls for whimsical scores, we’re finally hearing some new music emerging as young composers, especially, find their own sounds. More than ever, this is an excellent time for stock music libraries, and composers to put themselves out there for whatever the style calls for. It’s a great time for composers to take the reins and do cool things.

RC: You also call this style “ear candy.” How would you describe it?
TILLIS: Musical sounds that stop you in your tracks when you’re doing the dishes or headed out with the garbage, and make you actually look at the?TV.?

There’s always rap, reggae, hiphop, techno, pop vocals, alternative — whatever?THAT is these days — but mix in a little whimsy and we might have an emerging genre!?

Think Leroy Anderson (“The Typewriter Song,” “Syncopated Clock”) meets Trio (“The Dadada” album) meets Telepopmusik (“Telepop Genetic World”).

Joy Tillis and WJOY are reachable at 773/276-9340.