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Stephen Stallings - McGarryBowen


Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
People used to make fun of me because I was always telling people what music they should listen to. Now it’s my job to tell people what music they should listen to. SO THERE.

How long have you been at McGarryBowen? 
It’ll be five years this August.

What experiences have lead you to the position you’re in? 
This is actually my first job out of school. I studied Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville and then moved to New York and landed here after a few months of job searching. And by job searching, I mean watching Cheers and filling out every job application I could find.

What’s been the proudest moment in your work so far? 
I’ve been a huge fan of Mates of State since my teenage years, and I was able to license two of their songs on different clients over the years. Feels great to provide a nice paycheck for artists that I’ve loved for a long time. 

Temp music: love it or hate it?
Hate it, in general. It depends on the editor, though. Some editors have a really good idea of what’s realistic when it comes to music, but some are just so clueless and can derail a project. One time an editor used a Kronos Quartet track for temp music and then went completely rogue and reached out to them himself, asking to use their track for a miniscule budget. Almost no money. So embarrassing. At mcgarrybowen, we get involved in every project as early as possible and make sure our creatives and editors are armed with a lot of great music that works within our budget before temp music could even be applied.

Who or what inspires you? 
Cheesy answer – my wife. She’s a singer/actor/dancer, and she blows my mind with the work she does on stage. It’s inspiring to see her making people’s days/lives better, if even for just a couple hours at a time.

Musically - that answer changes constantly. Lately, when I haven’t been freaking out about BABYMETAL (J-pop meets metal in the best way), I’ve been digging Mort Garson. He was an early electronic music composer whose work ranges from an album of all-synthesizer covers of songs from the musical Hair (Electronic Hair Pieces, 1969) to an album of tunes to play for indoor plants to supposedly make them grow faster (Plantasia, 1976). I expected it all to be boring, but it’s incredible. Great for productivity at work.

Do you have any creative outputs outwith work?
I’m a musician first and foremost. I dabble in a lot of different instruments, but I’m mainly a guitar guy. I’ve played in bands here and there over the years, and I’ve been working on an album for a while that maybe someone will hear one day.

Before you go...

Red or White? 

Wine – red. Pokemon games – red. Weezer self-titled albums – white.

Dancing or cabaret?
Cabaret, I guess? It takes a lot to get me into a dancing mood.

Gigs or festivals?
I’ve had great festival experiences before, but they’re just too overwhelming. It’s easy to avoid festivals when you live in NYC, where every single band is going to come play anyway.

What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Sigur Ros in Houston, Texas. February 25, 2006

What book/Author has influenced you the most?
This is such a played-out answer, but truthfully, it’s 
Malcolm Gladwell. I read The Tipping Point when I was thirteen, and it changed the way I looked at the world. Same goes for Outliers.

What is your guilty pleasure TV show? 
ABC’s Nashville. It’s the greatest soap opera.