Michael Frick's Musical Journey, From Opera to San Diego Tourism

Plus, a playlist of his favorite bands and musicians

Michael Frick is VP of creative at label, publisher and management company MNRK Music Group (formerly E-One Music). Frick co-founded music production company and creative incubator Mophonics in 2002, where he was executive producer through 2015, before launching strategic music consultancy No Friction.

Key career moments include music supervision for the launch of Apple iTunes, producing the first custom single for the iPod Nano launch featuring Jimmy Napes, and the score for the debut of the MacBook Air. He signed Grammy-nominated Mark Foster (Foster the People) as a composer to score brand campaigns, resulting in the writing of acclaimed album Torches and chart-topping "Pumped Up Kicks." 

Michael has also worked with artists Jason Mraz, Band of Horses, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Linda Perry, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and has curated integrated music solutions for brands such as Apple, Adidas, Nike, Sonos, Visit California, Google, San Diego Tourism and Quickbooks. Michael is a member of the Guild of Music Supervisors and the Television Academy.

We caught up with Michael 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.

Michael, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in Harrogate, England, and raised on Maryland's rural Eastern shore, about 90 minutes from Baltimore. After college, as a set PA on the movie True Lies, I moved to Los Angeles, sight unseen, and have been here ever since.

Your earliest musical memory.

We listened to lots of Motown growing up, but my first musical memory was definitely while visiting my Grandpa in Malta. He was an opera singer named Giuseppe Satariano. In his day he performed all over Europe, even at the Royal Albert Hall. Grandpa Joe was always belting out Rigoletto's "La donna e mobile." Come to think of it, on another trip to Malta, on the way to a football match, I vividly remember my Uncle Charlie blasting 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday" on his custom-installed Peugeot car stereo.

Your first concert.

My first show was Jackson Browne at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. My aunt Sherri took my brother and me while we were visiting one summer vacation.

Your favorite bands/musicians.

I started DJing when I was 14. Some key bands had an impact on my musical sensibilities: The Four Tops, Genesis, KISS, Giorgio Moroder, Chuck Brown, Run-D.M.C., Depeche Mode, the Cure, Mr. Fingers, The The, the Clash, Happy Mondays, Front 242, Malcom McClaren, the Grateful Dead, Toots and the Maytals, Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, Sugar Cubes, the Fugees ... I made a playlist for you that sums this up nicely!

How you get your music these days.

Everywhere I can ... my trusted friends with golden ears, underground DJs, and the trainers where I exercise always surprise me with new tracks, but I especially love discovering new music via my kids.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

In Los Angeles, as a smaller room, I love the Troubador. I enjoy the Forum for larger indoor events, and you can't beat the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek.

Your favorite music video.

Herbie Hancock "Rockit" is a tasty techno-utopian gumbo! Godley & Creme's video is a visual melange, melding scratching, synthesizers and an apartment full of robots jamming to jazzy electro and early era scratching from GrandMixer D.ST. I destroyed many a record because of this music video. Runner Up: Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" directed by Spike Jonze.

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

I think Steve McQueen's Small Axe was fantastic. My favorite episode was called "Lover's Rock" and the house party scene is as good as it gets.

A recent project you're proud of.

I love working with my friends at Shipyard, and partnering with their clients Visit California and San Diego Tourism. My most recent project with San Diego Tourism features a custom one-off from Michael Franti & Spearhead called "Out in the Sun."

If you're happy and you know it, show it in San Diego
Someone else's project that you admired recently.

Woodwork Music's dynamic rendition of Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" that was featured in Smirnoff's ad "Smirnoff Infamous Since 1864."

How musicians should approach working with brands.

As a starting point, the band might want to think about the kinds of stories they want to tell, why, and with whom they want to share them, then build a list of brands that might be a natural fit and be able to support or elevate those stories.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

I think brands should think of the musicians as they might a creative director. Let them dream up big ideas and messaging that works for both parties, and build from there.

What music can do that nothing else can.

Wake you up in the middle of the night with a song playing in your head.

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

Working somewhere where I could be in control of the stereo!

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.

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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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