Music: Adland's top rockers

BodyRockers achieved a global hit thanks to adland's love of their track I Like the Way. The band's Dylan Burns talks to Robin Hicks about the relationship between music and brands.

Fame and adulation arrived suddenly for BodyRockers. One of the first tracks they recorded, the rock-dance anthem I Like the Way (You Move), found its way to Ibiza last year and was soon heard in clubs and on radio stations all over the UK.

But it is the song's popularity with advertisers that has driven the band's success worldwide. The track was used for a Diet Coke ad in the US, a global World Cup spot for Hyundai, a Mitsubishi campaign in Australia, Arctic Vodka spots in Italy and UK ads for 118 888 and Grolsch, among others. It was even used at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. The publisher Sony/ATV claims I Like the Way is its most synched track of the past five years - possibly ever.

BodyRockers are the British- Australian duo Dylan Burns (pictured left) and Kaz James. Campaign caught up with Burns in his studio near London's Tower Bridge while recording his as-yet-unnamed new album.

- People have said your music is 'rock 'n' roll with electronic soul'. How would you describe it?

I leave the descriptions to the journalists. It's impossible to describe your own music. I'm an old rocker. I love the Stones and Led Zeppelin. Kaz is into his house music. So I guess we're a mixture of the two.

- You come from opposite sides of the planet. How did you meet and what makes you work together as a duo?

I was on tour with my old band and Kaz was the DJ on the tour. I started jamming guitar over the top of one of his records. We liked the sound, so we thought "let's do it out front". It went down well when we got back to UK and our break came in Ibiza with I Like the Way. We've only ever done one recording of it - a demo mix. It was a rush job, but it's often the case that you can kill a great record by recording it over and over again.

- Describe the typical BodyRockers fan (most of the bloggers on your website seem to be young girls squealing about how good looking you are).

Well, 60 if not 70 per cent of our audience is female. But the variety of ages is amazing. They range in age from little kids to people in their 50s who like the rock element. But you're right, most are teenage girls.

- Your music has been used in loads of ads. What makes it so 'synchable'?

I suppose it is because our music crosses generations. Kids love it and so do their parents.

- Finding the right music for an ad is a bit like DJing, but mixing images and sound. What type of visuals suit your music best?

I Like the Way was voted seventh-best driving record in the world on Top Gear. So it works pretty well with car ads - it's already on a spot for BMW in Australia. But then seeing Kate Moss strutting around to it (for a global spot for Rimmel) isn't too shabby either.

- Isn't getting into bed with advertisers 'selling out'?

I make music because I want as many people to hear it as possible. Besides, everyone knows that artists are not earning as much from record sales nowadays and you've got to earn a living somehow. If people want to call me a sellout, let them.

- Even Led Zeppelin are licensing their music for ads now. Has advertising become a necessary way to get exposure?

It seems so. Led Zeppelin and Primal Scream will have very different views now compared with when they started. Even so, you've got to be choosy about who you work with. I don't want my music associated with anything political, even if I agree wholeheartedly with what it stands for. And I won't go near anything deemed to be in bad taste or politically incorrect. I won't do tampon ads, either. Urgh.

- What brands do you most like to work with?

There are lots of great brands out there, but one I have turned down is McDonald's. Once you've given your music to McDonald's, there's no way back. There's so much bad press about the big conglomerates and I don't want to be judged alongside them.

- What do you think of the rise of sponsored music festivals such as V, O2 Wireless and Fruitstock?

The thing with these festivals is they are so well run. They might be corporate backed, but they are organised and managed by people who genuinely love music. V is the best festival going in my opinion. The lineup's stellar and it's one of the best shows we've done to date. And while there'll always be a certain magic about Glastonbury, we played there last year and it was awful - admittedly because of the weather. There's no harm in good "sponsored fun". The bottom line is, bands have to be backed by someone.

- What are your experiences of working with people in advertising? Do they live up to the stereotypes?

There are such strong stereotypes of advertising people that you almost go in with your boxing gloves on. But I've had no bad experiences. They are the same kind of people - creative types - as those who work in music. To be honest, I owe a big thank you to adland. It's helped our career tremendously. In the US, our music has only been heard in ads. We haven't toured there yet, we are waiting until we've finished our next album. You only get one shot at the US. You hear horror stories about bands that go there and return after a few months with their tails between their legs.

- What are your thoughts on downloading and the 'democratisation' of music via the web? Is it good for music?

As an artist, all I ever wanted was for people to hear my music. If people are getting it for free, it really doesn't bother me. If I'm round someone's house and I see a copied CD, there'll be no ranting from me. Musicians are vastly overpaid as it is.

- What's the best music you've ever heard used in an ad and why?

I love Groove Armada's I See You Baby, (Shaking that Ass) on the Renault Megane ad. That car's got a really bad rear end, but it was made sexy and fun thanks to the music.

- What's on your iPod at the moment?

I'm listening to Nick Cave and AC/DC (who've been another big influence). David Bowie is my all-time hero.

- What are your future ambitions?

Simple. Playing big stadiums and conquering the world.


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