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In the past music used in television commercials shared less of an association with indie artists and labels than it does today. With the recent demise of the record store and the corporate consolidation of radio, record labels are now looking to ad agencies to license their music and also as a means to break new artists. With music fans now accustomed to discovering artists and songs during commercial breaks, seldom does a song created solely for an ad campaign grab a viewer's attention with the same force as a charting hit. With its elusive lyrics, catchy hook, and polished production, the track "Trace" by Anthem Facility presented an unusual case where a song in a commercial was presumed to be an existing pop song; and it has now spawned a full release.

Anthem Facility is the latest creation of NYC-based producer Stephen Hermann, who has been making music for over 20 years. He first emerged in the industry as a member of the group Sukpatch, whose lo-fi pop was recorded at home with cheap keyboards, samplers, and a 4-track cassette recorder, long before elaborate home studios would become commonplace. After signing to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label in 1997, the group disbanded, but Hermann continued to work with Sukpatch's original label Slabco. There he contributed to a project called Casiocore--which inspired an entire subgenre of the same name--and was the architect of a project called Explosion Robinson. Following a small-scale CD and vinyl release, the album caught the attention of music supervisors and ad agencies, and Explosion Robinson quickly evolved into to a successful music and post production audio company.

After a decade of creating custom music in a variety of styles for use in everything from children's television to video games to sneaker commercials, Explosion Robinson was hired by Dell Computers in 2010 to compose original music to market a new line of laptops. In searching for a distinct sonic identity for the campaign, Hermann approached Indonesian-born singer Melati Malay for the vocal hooks. Malay performs solo and in numerous bands around New York City, most notably Young Magic and Lavalier. After a few hours in the studio collaborating on the vocal melody and lyrics, the team recorded a 30-second song that would eventually become "Trace," which prominently featured Malay's sensuous voice over Hermann's composition.

The track quickly became a personal favorite for them. They realized it was music they would have produced outside the context of commercial work. This gave Hermann the opportunity to do something he'd been wanting to do for years--get back into making and releasing records. He coined the name Anthem Facility as a new alias for his production work, and invited Malay back into the studio to stretch "Trace" into a full-three minute song. When the commercials began airing on television, phone calls and e-mails poured in from hundreds who'd discovered the artist by scouring the internet, but were frustrated that they could not find the music anywhere to purchase. Inspired by this feedback, the team expedited the planned release on iTunes and the track was made available digitally as Anthem Facility's debut single in 2010.

Despite being a competent multi-instrumentalist, Hermann hardly considers himself a musician. He spends countless hours experimenting with modem and vintage recording methods, production techniques, and synthesizer programming. His meticulous approach and dependence on outsourced session musicians can be compared to Steely Dan's pop craftsmanship that transcends genre. Some sonic influences are the dense atmospherics of My Bloody Valentine, Brightblack Morning Light and the bouncy, breezy French House sounds of Etienne de Crecy or Daft Punk.

With the release of Anthem Facility's debut EP Trace, the diversity of those influences is evident. With Malay offering her distinct lead vocals throughout the five songs on the EP, the same chemistry that drew so much attention and acclaim in their song's first appearance is on full display.

Trace is the first in a series of releases planned from Anthem Facility. It also marks the first full release from Hermann's label exro.fm, which will be releasing the EP digitally and on vinyl in late summer 2011.


FOR MORE INFO VISIT:

exro.fm
myspace.com/missmelatimalay
myspace.com/anthemfacility
explosionrobinson.com