Ovnik, Sproull creative partners in Deaf Dog music

New partners Eric Sproull and John Ovnik

Composer/producer John Ovnik has gone from solo to duo for the first time since he started Deaf Dog Music 18 years ago, by forming a creative partnership with his long-time friend, composer/producer Eric Sproull, who had been a producer/composer with Earhole recording.

The music makers, who work under the Deaf Dog Music brand, agree it’s been a partnership that’s been in the works for years, dating back to when they first started in the music business. 

“Eric and I had been talking back and forth about teaming up, and it made me think that it was a logical move, since he has the same experience and there’s very little overlap.  I’ve wanted to pursue other markets, like Detroit, where Eric is located.”

After a dozen years writing music for spots for Tom Wiebe’s company, Sproull says, “I have immense respect for Tom and the staff, but I was ready for a new chapter in my career. It’s a great opportunity to be a partner with John and collaborate on a wide variety of projects.”

The new duo have wide-ranging recording credits

Just wrapped is the new duo’s first project: arranging a 1972’s hit song to fit an animated four-spot Honeynut Cherrios package for Burrell Communications that’s now airing.

Project in the works is the mix of an original composition, “which is rare,” notes Ovnik, for a radio spot for Tide, via Saatchi & Saatchi. 

While Ovnik figures that radio work comprises 10% and spots 90% of their business, the two composers have recording credits with artists ranging from ur-rockers Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley through second-generation hippie-era bands like Jefferson Starship and Bad Company; legendary R&B producers such as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Lenny White, and Kenny Gamble; rapper Snoop Dogg; and Nashville diva Faith Hill.

Within the past year alone, Ovnik mixed a song for Snoop, and co-wrote with Wyclef Jean and Grammy and Tony winner Heather Headley.  He also produced four tunes (one sung by Wayne Newton) for The Weinstein Company’s late 2011 feature release, “Hoodwinked,” now on VOD.

Sproull works out of his Ann Arbor-area home

After years of living in Chicago and Evanston, Sproull and his wife Heidi, both Ohio natives, in 2006 saw the last of their foster children finish high school and felt it the right time to return to the rural life they both loved. 

They sold their big Evanston building to producer/composer Jim Tullio, who gave up his Winnetka home/studio after 20 years to move closer to the Chicago music scene.  Sproull considered the Grammy winner the perfect buyer, “as he built the fantastic recording studio we always planned to build but never did,” he says.

Leaving Evanston, the Sproulls bought a 12 acre “hobby farm” with “horses in the backyard,” outside of Ann Arbor where they live with their two high school-age children.  Sproull’s commute is a few steps to a fully-equipped 1,000-sq. ft. recording studio and mixing space he constructed in an attached garage.

Similarly, Ovnik’s 35×70-ft. three-room studio is located in the basement of his Prairie District home.  

Sproull feels he is ideally positioned. I can create, revise and deliver work from my home studio, and can be in Chicago for final vocals with clients or whenever else it’s helpful for a project.

“Technology — and good client relationships — allow us to work from just about anywhere,” he says.