Alex Moulton — Creative

Expansion Team

 

Expansion Team was an award-winning audio branding firm with an unparalleled talent roster. As co-founder and creative director, my mission was to engage clients directly with artists, composers, and designers to develop music and sound that was both more authentic and more strategic. The company merged with Eyeball in 2012.

 

Here are some of my highlights from our ten years.

 

CNN INTERNATIONAL —
AUDIO IDENTITY

AUDIO AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Music Creative Director, Composer
COMPOSERS: Michael Picton, Gooding, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.

In 2008, CNN challenged me to reinvent "news music," launching a two-year strategic and creative engagement. We examined the history of sound related to news, from antiquity to current trends, and developed the forward-thinking audio identity that was used in over 200 countries for nearly ten years. I presented the project's strategic insights at the 2010 Audio Branding Congress in Hamburg, Germany and the case study was included in the ABA Yearbook.

 
 

Over the course of the project we developed a large toolkit of region-specific network themes which, based on our research on musical recognition, were composed to be consistent in chord progression rather than melody. This allowed us to maintain consistency across an enormous range of international musical styles.

 

The success of our audio identity led to further brand development, including a theme for CNN Freedom Project. This noble initiative seeks the abolition of human trafficking by shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, amplifying the voices of the victims, and highlighting success stories. 

 

To support CNN International's coverage of the 2010 World Cup in Johhannesburg, South Africa, I composed the theme music used throughout the event coverage and promotion. I also created several remixes with different instrumentation and tempos that allowed CNN's producers to keep their audience excited and engaged.

 

 

HTC RHYME —
STARTUP SOUND

AD AGENCY: mcgarrybowen
AUDIO AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Music Creative Director, Composer, Sound Designer

HTC's Rhyme was designed for feminine appeal at a time when most other Android phones were being marketed as geeky and robotic. While exploring music options for the launch ad campaign, I created the audio mnemonic that became the startup sound for the device.

 
 

 

WIRED UK —
DIGITAL COVERS

DESIGN AGENCY: Carl DeTorres Graphic Design
ROLE: Music Creative Director
COMPOSERS: Michael Picton, Nyles Lannon

Collaborating with cover designer Carl DeTorres, we were asked to compose simple and elegant musical sound design for the Wired UK iPad edition. Our sound played as the app launched and as beds under the cover feature articles.

 
 

 

PBS —
AUDIO IDENTITY

AUDIO AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Creative Director
COMPOSERS: Michael Picton, Gooding, Ceiri Torjussen, Bill Doss
 

It had been a decade since PBS had updated their sonic identity when we were hired to create a fresh approach, ushering the brand into the 21st Century.

Before composing a single note, we embarked on a nine month strategic process in collaboration with design agency Eyeball. We interviewed PBS stakeholders and conducted sound research to establish insights that would shift audience perception. 

Our strategy groundwork with PBS enabled a wonderfully free creative phase. Once we began composing, the feedback was so overwhelmingly positive that we received no revisions to the music. The resulting package included a range of new network themes and a new brand audio logo mnemonic. 

 
 

We produced demos in LA and NYC but to create a distinct sonic palette for the final product, I felt it was important to record live instruments in a setting that would inspire creativity and emphasize the personality of each musician. We chose to record in the attic studio of Olivia Tremor Control's Bill Doss (RIP) with players from the Athens, Georgia music scene that included a string quartet, horn section, vibraphone, and an arsenal of toy instruments from Bill's storied collection.

 
 

After the 2009 rebrand, we continued to work with PBS to evolve and adapt the brand audio package, including a new arrangement of our central theme that underscored this Emmy-nominated PBS Kids campaign.

 

 

MOTOROLA DROID MAXX & ULTRA —
DEFAULT RINGTONE

AD AGENCY: mcgarrybowen
AUDIO AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Music Creative Director, Composer

I've worked on many UI/UX projects and my goal is always to ensure that users develop affinity for the experience over time. But something special happens with a ringtone because people adopt it as their own and it meshes with pop culture.

The first time I heard someone's Droid Ultra ring, I was on a public bus with my son. At first I couldn't figure out where I knew the tune, until I realized I had composed it many months earlier. But it wasn't mine anymore — it belonged to everyone.

 
 

 

JETBLUE —
IN-FLIGHT AUDIO IDENTITY

AUDIO AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Creative Director, Composer

For two years I worked with JetBlue to develop and evolve their audio brand.

To create the sonic identity for JetBlue's in-flight entertainment system, I first evaluated the existing customer experience and developed creative strategies for a better customer experience.

One of the more interesting findings was that different frequencies completely disappear during takeoff and flight time due to cabin noise. To ensure the optimum sound quality throughout the flight, I developed custom EQ settings and unique sonic criteria for all audio assets. I then personally composed a new soundtrack for the in-flight channels and instructional videos and cast new voiceover talent as the voice of JetBlue.

 
 

 

MERCEDES —
INTERACTIVE SOUND

AD AGENCY: Razorfish
DESIGN AGENCY: Stardust (now Los York)
MUSIC AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Music Creative Director, Sound Designer
COMPOSER: Anu Pillai
SOUND DESIGNER: Joe Johnson

Working with Razorfish and Stardust, we developed this novel digital experience that shifted control of the music and narrative to Mercedes drivers and fans. I directed the sonic experience and original music, allowing users to explore each car by mixing back and forth and manipulate the sound. 

The linear movies shown here are approximations of the interactive version, depicting the fluid experience when users transform between car models.

 
 

 

TARGET —
ART FOR ALL

AD AGENCY: Catalyst
PRODUCTION: Eyeball
AUDIO AGENCY: Expansion Team
ROLE: Music Creative Director
COMPOSERS: Itaal Shur, Michael Picton

Over years working with Target, we created some very special pieces of music. These two spots from Target's "Art For All" initiative are my personal favorites.

 
 

 

Over the years we created some beautiful branded packaging for our reels. One of the DVD packs was featured in Charlotte Rivers' book DVD-Art: Innovation in DVD Packaging Design and our company logo was included in Tres Logos, the third volume of the popular logo archive book series.