Chips (StudioAKA / E4)

9th October 2019

For this ident, StudioAKA’s Kristian Andrews wanted to mirror the aesthetic of his animation with found-sound percussion and DIY FX.

Sound design and music

We decided to try and make the music entirely from chip shop sound samples. Kristian was animating by cutting up photos he’d taken at a local chippy, and I thought we could create the musical equivalent of that approach.

Also, I usually think of sound design as part of the music anyway – particularly in a short form piece like this. So it’s great to get chance to really blur the boundaries.

So the composition process started with a ton of location recording and foley.

I went to my local chip shop and recorded interior and exterior atmos; also the sound of the fryer warming up, chips being fried, microwave ovens turning and pinging… refrigerators humming, utensils drumming on stainless surfaces.

This was supplemented with foley recordings at home: I bought a selection of squeezy ketchup and sauce bottles, chopped and fried potatoes, and recorded another raft of percussion, using empty cooking oil drums and charity shop finds like frying baskets.

Eventually I had pretty much everything I needed to recreate the classic 80s Channel 4 fanfare, using only found sounds relating to chip consumption within 200 yards of my house.

The percussion worked perfectly, but we weren’t 100% satisfied with the sound texture of the fanfare itself: fridge tones were somewhat indistinct, microwave beeps were a little piercing. So we decided to use kazoos, which fit beautifully with the DIY percussion; and the microwave, with its harsh harmonics filtered out, hung in there as a background arpeggio.

Sound FX came from the same body of recordings. Kristian was keen that the ketchup squirt should disgustingly subvert the fanfare, so I spent some time recording and compositing a bunch of options. Then, it’s a foley collage of polystyrene tray squeaks, chip manipulation and lots of slobby chewing (which Youtube comments insist is ASMR).

I’ve worked again with StudioAKA since and they’re an intensely fun and creative team – and this piece was a dream commission.