In the world of music production for advertising, WOLF AT THE DOOR exists in stark contrast. Located in Venice, WOLF AT THE DOOR breaks through the confines of a traditional music house; rather partners Alex Kemp and Jimmy Haun have established the company to function as a misfit art collective that lives and dies by the credo: “make rad shit with rad people.”
WOLF AT THE DOOR provides original music, music supervision and sound design for the ad industry, and occasionally, for their buddies’ films. Both founders have been making noise for some time: Alex Kemp was composer at Chicago-based companies Catfish Music and Spank and was the former Creative Director of HUM in Santa Monica, while Jimmy Haun spent over 10 years as the Senior Composer at Elias, in addition to being a lauded session musician. Between the two of them they’ve been signed to four major labels, written 11 Super Bowl spots, and have composed music for top agencies including W+K, Goodby, Chiat\Day, Team One, and Arnold, working with directors like David Fincher, Lance Acord, Stacy Wall, and Gore Verbinski.
Inspired to create a place that would reflect their love of art and design and the raw creativity that WOLF AT THE DOOR brings to its music, Kemp linked up with his longtime friend Scott Brown, a former Creative Director at agencies including Chiat\Day, 72andSunny and Deutsch. This ambitious idea took the form of a surf shop and brand: LONE WOLFS Objets d’Surf.
With a visual identity that is part DIY delinquent, part Arthouse cinema-inspired, part 60s nostalgia, a bit tongue-in-cheek and always monochromatic, LONE WOLFS is the most unique and forward-thinking reception area that any music house could have.
With the WOLF AT THE DOOR recording studio and production office existing directly behind the LONE WOLFS retail store, Kemp and his partners have created a social space where they bounce between different creative projects daily: writing music for spots, designing handmade LONE WOLFS surfboards, recording bands in the studio, laying out a zine, or producing their own original branded content.
Episodes of their original surf talk show-slash-web series Everything’s Not Working have featured guest pro surfers including Dion Agius, Nabil Samadani and Eden Saul, all hosted with offbeat humor by Zach Williams. The installments were produced by their in-house design and production team Black Rainbows of Death, and of course, feature music by WOLF AT THE DOOR.
And just as a snake can eat its own tail, WOLF AT THE DOOR also makes advertisements for LONE WOLFS. Award-winning ones, at that: A GOOD MAN, a film created for the shop, won both a Kinsale Shark and an LIAA, along with being shortlisted at Cannes.
In the client realm, WOLF AT THE DOOR recently worked on an Experian commercial directed by the Malloy Brothers for the Martin Agency, as well as a Century Link spot directed by Malcom Venville for Arnold Worldwide. Kemp worked closely with Venville on the casting and arrangement for the spot, and traveled to Denver to record the duet of singer Kelvin Jones’ “Call You Home” with Karissa Lee, a young singer Kemp found specifically for the project.
“Our approach to music is always driven by who the brand is and what ideas the music needs to support,” says Kemp. “The music provides the emotional context.” Paying keen attention to messaging is something that goes hand in hand with carving out their own brand and making their own content. “The whole model seemed ready for a reset. And personally speaking, I like to live and work at a place where being inspired dictates the actions we take, rather than the other way around.”