Photograph by Stepahnie Levy
Oh, hey there! Friends NYC bestie, Yosef Munro just composed and recorded the music for the Boy Smells Hypernature 2020 Limited Edition campaign. Boy Smells is one of our favorite products and Yos is one of our favorite people! Read on to learn more about our fabulous friend.
Yosef Munro grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and started playing piano when he was five years old. After majoring in music at McGill University in Montreal, he moved to NYC, played in a few bands, worked in a bunch of restaurants, and crash-coursed his way into music production and sound design. Currently he’s working on several ads, a TV series, and his first solo EP.
F: What’s your connection to Friends NYC?
YM: Some of my closest friends at McGill were Emma (of Friends), my friend Aaron Harris from Pittsburgh, and Jonny Meyer, younger brother to Mary Meyer (of Friends). When we all moved from Montreal to Brooklyn after graduation, Mary’s circle of friends was our welcome party, thanks to Jonny. Our first “friends” in New York. The name of the shop has always been kind of special to me for that reason.
F: Tell us about the Boy Smells Hypernature Campaign! [We love Boy Smells! Made in small batches in LA, these candles are cute, cool and smell great.]
YM: I got connected to the production team through another good friend and ex-bandmate, Jordan Robin. My point person was this amazing editor, Chris Miller. The concept was to have these flirty spots centered around Boy Smells’ new “Hypernature” candles: Rhubarb Smoke, Fleurshadow, Polyamberous, and Agua de Jardin. The spots are kind of cheeky and personals-ads inspired, for example the Polyamberous spot has the onscreen text “Smoked amber in search of patchouli lovers and tobacco trysts.” It’s as if the scent profiles were sexting each other, hinting at various indecent scenarios; from grimy underground club (Polyamberous) to dreamy, sultry, and “wet” (Agua de Jardin), to straight up BDSM (Rhubarb smoke).
They wanted the music and sound to be sensual and tactile, so I brought in everything from lion roars and whip cracks to gushing water samples and reverb-drenched sighs. Some are audible but some are mixed very low to the point of just being subliminal.
F: Where do you get inspiration from when composing music?
YM: If it’s for an ad, I look at the brief and prioritize hitting all of the specific asks. Something cohesive and organic usually takes shape naturally from that starting point. If I’m scoring a narrative piece where I have more free rein, I’ll be thinking about thematic ideas for different places/characters/moments long before I actually write the music. Inspiration comes when the elements of the project start synesthesia-ing themself into sounds in my head by themselves. That then becomes a kind of sonic scaffolding that I build everything from. But if it’s my own work, I usually start from scratch, actively searching for inspiration by playing around with different drums, synths, or maybe a portion of a melody that appeared in my head when I woke up and demanded to be seen through. I think this is a type of OCD that I should maybe be concerned about.
F: What’s your daily music practice like? How much time do you spend composing vs playing other people’s music? And whatever else you want to tell us about your music practice.
YM: At school I would practice piano for up to 8 hours a day. Now it’s a pandemic, I don’t have a piano, and almost never get to play. So, my practice is less technical, but I’m writing a ton of music for work, and am learning a ton about sound design and experiential/gaming audio. I miss having a piano, but I’m plenty busy without one, and I’ll cross that bridge when I have the space for it. I’d say it’s like riding a bike, but it’s not! I’m extremely rusty.
F: Pre-corona, you had a residency at the Soho Grand playing piano. Do you miss performing? How has the pandemic changed things for you as a musician?
YM: Yes! I had a residency at the Soho Grand, and was playing piano at all these other places too, just walking in, sitting at the piano, and improvising for a couple hours. It was something I already loved doing, but getting paid for it? I was super lucky, and it was such a weird, niche job. A crazy way to experience nightlife in the city. I miss it a ton, but I’m also so lucky to be able to work remotely in other musical capacities. And I’m learning a lot on the engineering and production side. Things I never would have learned if the pandemic hadn’t forced me inside.
F: What gives you hope for the future in these times?
YM: Oh man. I don’t know… the children?
F: And now, a list of your favorite tunes for different moods!
…That gets you pumped: "10,000 Years" (High on Fire)
…You listen to when sad: "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (Charles Mingus)
…For the best slow dance: "Somewhere in the World" (Boney M)
…To relax to: "First Flight" (Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith)
…That makes you nostalgic: "Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac)
…That encapsulates your life right now: "Daiitoku-Myōō no Ōdaiko" (Neptunian Maximalism)
…That you are #sorrynotsorry about loving: "Vroom Vroom" (Charli XCX)
…You’ve recently discovered that you think everyone should listen to: "The Vanishing" (Insect Ark)
F: What are a couple of your favorite Friends NYC items?
We love you, Yossi! You inspire us with your talent, your humor, and your charm. You’re cool AF and we have no choice but to stan. The world is lucky to receive your beautiful music and we are even luckier to know you. Now, excuse us as we make a Yos music playlist from your song pics and light up a Boy Smells Candle while we listen.