Part II of Creative Conversations, a series featuring photographers, designers and creators within the music industry beyond the artists to share their stories.
Dondrea Erauw is a Music Supervisor at instinct entertainment based out of Toronto. She has worked on projects like The New Romantic, Firecrackers, The Cuban, Beauty and the Beast, and Degrassi using her talent and creativity to discover music and license songs for these projects. We recently connected as I was looking for recommendations for things to do in Los Angeles in January. Dondrea and I became friends on Instagram, and she gave me the low-down on all the cool things since she frequently visits. I also was able to go to the premiere for her recent film project at SXSW, The New Romantic.
ET: So good to finally connect in person! I can't wait to hear your story and how your music journey began. Tell me about your background and entry into the industry.
DE: I was born and raised not too far from Toronto. I grew up in a music-oriented family, where my parents ran a church band, and my dad and uncle were the leaders. I basically learned to sing in the choir with my mom. I took some vocal lessons and stopped going to church to explore all different kinds of music. I started a band in high school, then wrote and recorded my own music. I also ended up being on a reality tv show, where I swapped roles with a music teacher. Since I grew up in a fairly small town, I wasn't super exposed to the entertainment industry as a teenager. I went to University for a media-type program and quickly realized that I didn't fit in there at all. I couldn’t relate to any of the students and they all had terrible taste in music.. I then decided to look into college , and that’s where I found the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College. It was there that I learned about the ins and outs of the music industry. Everything from production to business to engineering. I also recorded my second band's EP there. We were very pop/punk, there was a lot of headbanging involved haha..
Also, I heavily watched The OC in high school and loved it, because it was a way for me to discover new music. I was obsessed with hearing and seeing songs to picture. When I was at Fanshawe ,I was trying to figure out exactly how graduate with a job, and it was there that I learned about Music Supervision. Instantly, I asked myself,'how the hell do I get into this world'? So I started from the basics of okay, I need to be skilled in licensing, copyright, etc. Where can I get a job and start there? So I sent my resume to a handful of labels and publishers. One of them reached out to me and asked if I could cover a leave of absence almost immediately. I remember I still hadn't finished my exams yet, and eventually lived on a friend's couch and started working at this publishing company handling copyright.
ET: Wow what a story.
DE: Yes, so long! About a year and a half after that, my boss now, (Michael, who started instinct) an intern. So I applied,chatted with him and knew I wanted to figure out how to get into the Music Supervision world. He was so confused though. 'are you going to leave your full-time job for an internship?!'. After I said yes,he hired me on full-time and I’ve been working with him ever since, which is about 6 years now.
ET: So awesome. I have always been interested to know what music supervision entails in the entertainment industry. How do you select the music for the movie/show?
DE: In terms of finding music, it's lately been Spotify. I go down a rabbit hole where I keep discovering new artists. I also receive music from indie and major record labels, as well as publishers. We get distribution emails from them and other licensing houses, and they provide us links to new albums/music. I also like to follow a couple of blogs etc. But Music Supervision is much more than just discovering new music and creatively placing songs to picture. There’s a lot of negotiating, paperwork and admin involved. We’re constantly having to problem solve.
ET: What project has been the one you are most proud of?
DE: The New Romantic! It was honestly one of my favorite projects to be a part of.
ET: In the film the music worked so seamlessly and set the mood of the scene and characters.
DE: I loved it because a lot of the music we licensed, is stuff that I genuinely listen to and I found most of the artists on Spotify. The opening track, 'More Romantic' by CLOSENESS was one that I randomly found. When I saw the first cut of the film, I was listening to all kinds of different songs, and it was one that really stuck out to me. So I ended up sending it (along with a hundred other songs), to the director and producer.
I also think the director & writer, Carly Stone, did an incredible job with the script. Her vision really came through. I also loved the sense of humor and comedy between all of the characters. The film was something I would have watched and loved even if I wasn't working on it. Also, this was Carly's directorial debut, and I think she outdid herself. Her and Kyle Mann (producer) put a lot of effort into this film and it’s so exciting to see their hardpay off.
ET: I really enjoyed the music in the film. I thought the song by Petit Biscuit fit super well into the whole idea.
DE: Yes, actually Carly really wanted to have that song in the film. It was originally in the first cut when I watched it. We were able to license it and we also referenced it as a creative pallet for the composer (Matthew O’Halloran).
ET: Did your career shift the way you listen to music?
DE: Hmm most supervisors would probably say yes. I would say,sometimes my supervisor brain comes on and when I hear a track,I might think, ‘this is too wordy’, or ‘this could work in one of my projects’ etc. But my love for music started when I was a musician, so I’ve always had an appreciation for it. A lot of people also ask if listen to music on my down time or not, and the answer is yes. Always..
ET: What kind of music really inspires you? Do you have any favorites right now?
DE: Right now, I am really into the new Kacey Musgraves album. It makes me feel good and sad simultaneously.
ET: Same! It's truly a beautiful album. It reminds me of Michelle Branch and 70's dream pop.
DE: Yes! It brings me back to this feeling like I'm listening to the Dixie Chicks with my friends in my friend's mom's car. (Laughs)
I am also a-die-hard Paramore fan. I always have been and always will be. That is the band I always go back to. I discovered them when I was 15, and I love how I’ve been able to grow up with them. Now, Now is also a band I listen to quite often. They have a new album coming out on May 18th, and I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy. It’s SO GOOD. I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. They’re constantly creating music that moves me.