Howling Music's David Grow on Hall & Oates, Björk, and Getting Un-Trucklike for Chevy

Plus, why brands and musicians should approach deals with sincerity and humility

David Grow is a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum-selling songwriter, producer and commercial composer. After his debut album, Well, charted for 33 consecutive weeks, David toured the country and went on to write and produce for other artists such as Jim Brickman, Michael Bolton, Selah, All-4-One, Richie Havens and Michael W. Smith, among others.

David was a staff composer for two L.A.-based music houses before launching Howling Music in 1999. As a commercial composer, David has written on hundreds of broadcast spots with many of the biggest brands in the world, including Nike, the NFL, Ford, Chevy, Domino's, Capital One, Toyota, BMW, Google, Kia, BMW and YouTube, to name a few.

In 2018, Howling Music partnered with Ryan Claus, founder of Rhino Sound in San Diego. Howling Music has since launched Howling Vinyl and Retrorama, two award-winning production music labels based in Nashville.

David lives in Nashville with his wife and two sons. We caught up with him for our Liner Notes series to learn more about his musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work he's proud of and admired.

David, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I lived in East Lansing, Michigan, until age 10 when financial disaster struck my family, forcing a move to a small apartment in L.A. From then I grew up on the mean streets of L.A. I now live in Nashville with my wife and kids.

Your earliest musical memory.

My mom loved opera, so my earliest musical memories include Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and the Broadway recording of Porgy and Bess—both which scared me.

Your first concert.

My first official concert was Hall & Oates when I was about 13. The band was tight as hell and the singers sang great. I was blown away.

Your favorite bands/musicians.

Impossible to adequately answer but early Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Björk and the Beatles would be on the list. Their music makes me feel less alone in the world.

How you get your music these days.

Mostly Spotify and Apple Music, to be honest.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

Red Rocks is amazing, but Madison Square Garden sounds better.

Your favorite music video.

"Jóga" by Bjork.

Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.

Maybe Live From Daryl's House.

A recent project you're proud of.

We did a Chevy truck spot recently which had reflective, almost dreamy sounding music. Very un-truck and brave for a truck spot. I love seeing spots like that and it was very fun to create the music for one!

How musicians should approach working with brands.

With sincerity and humility. It's easy to get into the mental trap of thinking we know better since we're trained musicians, but our best work happens when we're fellow wayfarers looking for a musical solution.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

Maybe same as above.

What music can do that nothing else can.

Music comes from our particular minds and souls.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.

I'd be a screenwriter. I like telling stories by whatever means.

Liner Notes is our weekly interview series, publishing every Monday, where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please get in touch.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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