March 2, 2021

How does an acclaimed jazz musician compose the soundtrack for a car commercial?

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Kamasi Washington x CUPRA

  • The famous American saxophonist and composer Kamasi Washington is the author of the song for the new CUPRA León e-HYBRID commercial
  • Washington took on the challenge of creating a tune to match the emotions of driving the first electrified model of the brand
  • Strength, exclusivity, sustainability and control are some of the qualities shared by the songwriter and the CUPRA León e-HYBRID

Martorell, 11/02/2020. – When creating art, there is always a story to tell, values to show and a character to wrap the piece with. When the American saxophonist and composer Kamasi Washington, nominated to the 2021 Grammy Awards at the category of best score soundtrack for visual media for ‘Becoming’, was commissioned to create the melody for the new CUPRA León e-HYBRID commercial, he thought that his music was uncommon for advertising. Shortly afterwards, he discovered that the CUPRA León e-HYBRID, its background, values and character are also out of the ordinary.

– A different kind of commission. Washington, who was born into a family of musicians in Los Angeles, is a well-known saxophonist who stands out for his jazz compositions. The personality of his melodies was the main reason why CUPRA asked him to create the theme song of the commercial for the brand’s first model: “They told me they wanted something very unusual, with lots of energy”, says the composer. “And I was like: Hmm, ok. You don’t hear that in a commercial too often”. He accepted the challenge.

– The artistic process. “Generally, I’m just reaching out into the void trying to find something that I didn´t know was there”, explains Washington. In this project, moreover, “I focused on translating into sound the emotions that I was described with words, to capture that movement that the protagonist experiences in the video”, he points out. The journey wasn’t easy; in times of COVID-19 he was in Amsterdam while his entire band was in Los Angeles. “We’d never before made music by videoconference, sometimes it was six in the evening there, but for me it was three o’clock in the morning” he recalls.

– The car’s character, through music. “It all starts with a rumbling sound; you know something is going to happen, and then comes that clash, something completely dissonant”, says the composer. In the video, the intensity of the music matches the stress of the traffic. Washington wanted to show how, in an overwhelming atmosphere, the CUPRA León e-HYBRID broke through as a refreshing element: “When everything is about to explode, the protagonist appears in the car, everything calms down, and suddenly, the intensity starts up and returns, but without the dissonance”. Now the driver of the hybrid vehicle is in control, his personality prevails over the chaos. “There’s a through line, an angel of a melody that goes through fire, into the water, rides out on the wind”, explains the author.

– A luxury ambassador. The Spanish-German actor Daniel Brühl, known for his films like Inglorious Bastards, Rush or Good bye, Lenin! or series like The Alienist, is the protagonist of the spot, under the motto “There is a moment when you drive for others and a moment when you drive for yourself.” Asked about his new role as CUPRA ambassador, Brühl confesses that he is “really looking forward to joining the CUPRA Tribe, a contemporary brand from my hometown of Barcelona that shares my lifestyle and my values”. And he adds: “For me, when choosing a car, the most important factor is sustainability. As a sports fan, I need a high-performance vehicle that not only accelerates in the shortest time possible, but also minimizes its impact on the environment in the broadest sense”. That’s why “the new CUPRA León e-HYBRID is the perfect choice”, he concludes.

– A pure pleasure. This was a different kind of project for Washington. “When I compose something like this, it tends to lead me to a place that I might not necessarily have gone on my own, which is cool, and I end up pouring some of that into what I do”, he explains. As for his creation, “it’s ended up being one of those pieces of music that I probably will play for the fun of it”, he concludes. As with the CUPRA León e-HYBRID, the best thing is the pleasure of driving it.

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