Connection stories: Sander Mölder and Seiya Matsumiya

23 March 2021 Connection StoriesInterview

Making connections happen is one of TMW’s main goals. This is something we can’t write into the programme, but it happens every time – people meet, minds collide, and it all leads to wonderful collabs that we would like to share with you in a new series we’re calling “Connection Stories”. 

Our first installment is about the meeting of Seiya Matsumiya, CEO and producer of a music licencing agency Black Cat White Cat, with the Estonian composer, producer and DJ Sander Mölder, brought together by Thea Zaitsev, owner and manager of the management and publishing company Tier Music. Thea and Seiya first met in Finland at the Estonian-Finnish delegation meeting within the cross-border initiative Finest Sounds in 2018. 

This led to various sync collabs, with the most recent ones for the UNIQLO AIRism collection and the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset ad campaigns. His earlier works have been for brands like Mazda, Osaka Metro, Oculus, Balmuda, Empecure and DHC. 

Sander, how did your music end up in Japan?
A few years ago at TMW Thea introduced me to Seiya. They came to my studio, we listened to some records, other pieces of music I had done for advertisements before, and just chatted. It seemed like he really liked my “TIKS 071” album of new takes on Estonian traditional music. Also, at the same time I was working on music for a ballet. When he heard that, he said it sounds like something he needs for an ad. And it went from there. 

What was surprising or especially memorable about this collab?

Perhaps the beginning – the fact that it all went so smoothly. All communication about the work has been very comfortable as well. The briefs I receive are very detailed, accurate and inspiring.

Sander Mölder. Photo: Martin Kosseson

Seiya, what about Sander’s music caught your attention and led to this collaboration?

When I visited his studio while in Tallinn for TMW, he showed me his newest release “TIKS 071”. I was looking for music with a distinct Estonian feeling without losing the contemporary edge, and that album simply blew me away. He also showed me commercial works he had done, which meant he knew the ins & outs of client/commercial work and that was a huge plus for me in terms of establishing a working relationship. While speaking with him and listening to his music I got a sense of the sensitivity and artistry that he brings to his music, and the first job we did together was an atmospheric ambient piece that I thought he was perfect for.

What are the criteria in the artist’s work you are looking for in your collaborations?

The most important thing is the unique and distinct voice of the artist. The more specific and distinct the better. And once we establish a working relationship, we can expand from there.

Seiya Matsumiya. Photo: press photo

How familiar are you with the Estonian music scene, what’s interesting here? 

I obviously can’t say I’m extremely familiar, but I feel I have a good sense of who’s who and the general vibe. I think in general each artist I’ve met has a super distinct and easily identifiable vibe. It might be because it’s a small scene compared to places like Japan/US, and there’s not a lot of room for a lot of similar artists. But whether it’s Sander, NOEP, Erki [Pärnoja], Mick [Pedaja], or Maarja [Nuut], and anyone else that I never spoke to but saw during TMW, I thought “so this is what YOU do, and wow, you’re good at it.

What is the importance of showcase festivalis like TMW for your work?

At the end of the day personal connections are what matter the most – being physically present at an event like TMW and experiencing such an amazingly good and vibrant music scene in a place that I never really knew much about… I can honestly say I felt like I had found a gold mine…haha. TMW was so important for my work because I directly connected with incredibly unique artists whose work had basically never been heard in Japan, and new and interesting music is exactly what the Japanese advertising and film scenes need.

What’s in the works next?

Sander: I just finished another collaboration with Seiya for the Oculus Quest 2 ad. My main work at the moment is composing music for a ballet about the life of Louis XIV, which we’re writing with Timo Steiner for the Estonian National Opera.

Thea: With NOËP a.k.a. Andres Kõpper, we’re currently working on 4-5 domestic sync projects, which include both the creation of new music as well as clearing rights for the use of his existing pieces of music. My other act Mick Pedaja is finishing an international project with Seiya and is working on composing music for a couple of films. Sander has a few local unfinished sync projects, and he is also working on his next ballet. He’s almost always got one or more syncs on his table. Despite the work we get in through our existing contacts, my team is continuously pitching music for both new and old contacts in order to get even more of this kind of work.

Classically trained composer and a cellist, producer and DJ Sander Mölder has performed around the world, including the Royal Albert Hall in London and Primavera festival in Barcelona. His latest works include a new take on Estonian traditional folk on the “LP TIKS 071” and co-writing the score for a ballet based on the life of Estonian chess grandmaster Paul Keres. 

Composer, music supervisor and producer Seiya Matsumiya launched a music licencing agency Black Cat White Cat Music in 2018 and formed a partnership with TBWA\Hakuhodo in what is Japanʼs first music – advertising agency alliance. As a music supervisor, he works with the countryʼs top agencies and film production companies with an international network of musicians and labels.

Thea Zaitsev’s company Tier Music provides management services for artists, producers and writers such as Sander Mölder, NOËP and Mick Pedaja. In addition to that, since last year they’ve also added a new branch that deals with music publishing where they work with musicians like Raul Ojamaa and Jonas Kaarnamets. The main goal of Tier Music Publishing is to help artists create new work, both for the artists themselves as well as for others, with a focus on collabs with foreign artists and composers/writers. One of their focus areas is also sync, which means licencing music for visual media in advertising, film, games, etc.