PULL SCORES THE UNEXPECTED FOR NIKE ‘INSIDE SMALL-SIDED’ SERIES
The do-or-die dedication of Latin America to small-sided soccer is captured in a new online series from Nike, intensified by an unexpected set of scores from the New York City-based music company Pull.
Small-sided soccer – games with fewer players competing on a smaller sized field – can be a lifeline to young athletes with big dreams of breaking into a professional soccer league. “Inside Small-Sided”, produced for Nike by Picture Farm, is an arresting window into this athletic subculture, as artful cinematography and editing uncovers the 24/7 small-sided action permeating every corner of four cities: Mexico City, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires.
The score by Pull composer Mitch Davis for the premiere feature, in Mexico City, brings an unexpected dimension of tension to the micro-movie, pacing it with primitive string sounds and sparse percussion that draws the viewer into the story and keeps them on the edge of their seat.
Davis chose a cello and a curated collection of castoff instruments to create the series’ soundtrack. “I’m really pushing the instrument here, playing it in a way that it’s not meant to be played,” he explains. “Besides bowing the cello, I’m hitting it, plucking it, smacking it, detuning it, and scraping it to get the sound I want. It’s a cello, it’s a drum, it’s a berimbau -- it’s whatever instrument I need it to be. I also keep a number of broken instruments for projects like this, which I can stretch beyond the limits for which they were designed, and produce sounds that were never intended. Sounds which are all somehow relatable as something familiar, having been twisted from elements within everyone’s aural vocabulary.”
With recording credits that include collaborations with U2, Danger Mouse, and Bobby Womack, Davis made the most of his SoHo studio – an enveloping wonderland of keyboards, guitars and gear – to capture the sounds.
“I set up several mics around me, placed at varying distances and all with drastically different tonal characteristics,” Davis says. “I’d grab whatever instrument was needed and play it sitting in the same spot, creating a sense of space from the various mic positions in the room. I wasn’t going for a pristine sound at all – it was more a combination of recording music, Foley and sound design, and if I made mistakes, all the better. The players on the field have to make immediate decisions with no second chances. I wanted to mimic that commitment, confidence and uncertainty with the music.
“I sketched out the tonal arc in my mind, played the movie, and went straight through from A to Z,” Davis continues. “Then freeform layers were built onto that base to rhythmically fight with each other in a sort of musical interpretation of barking dogs. That tension of getting it in the first take was a part of the feel that’s just like a soccer match: something’s going to happen that’s unexpected.
Pull’s score has helped to get “Inside Small-Sided” off to a big start, with the installments for the soccer-obsessed cities of Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro all offering up their own musical adventure. “Nike has a reputation for breaking out of the standard advertising model, and this series is definitely ambitious,” Mitch Davis says. “’Inside Small-Sided’ is something that people will notice. They’ll want to be a part of it.”