Born in central New York, Rob DiFondi, a mixer at Sound Lounge, discovered his passion for music early on. By twelve he was playing drums and guitar, both of which he continues to play today. After earning his BS in sound recording technology from the State University of New York in 1999, he was hired by New York-based Sound Lounge. Rob has worked with many major brands and some of the best advertising agencies in the business. His knowledge of music and his ability to navigate around a mixing board has amassed a loyal following of agency and broadcast producers. His client list includes Cadillac and Hummer through Modernista!, Burger King and Amex for Crispin Porter Bogusky, and Chevron through McGarry Bowen. When he's not working, Rob plays golf, skis, travels and spends as much time as he can with his wife Tara, daughter Taylor and dog George.
If you have a degree, in what field is it? I have a BS in sound recording technology from SUNY Fredonia.
What’s the best use of sound you’ve heard lately? What's so great about it? The Susan Glenn Axe commercial is pretty awesome. It’s so cinematic. It's a great example of selective sound design and showing how you can really give everything it’s own space in a mix. The edit of the spot was so great that it didn’t need to go insane with sound design. It’s just there supporting the music and the narrative.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I’d work at Epcot. I love the future. Specifically, I’d work as one of the people who load you onto the ride Spaceship Earth. Or I’d be a college professor.
Sound design, sound mixing or the technology behind it? Which is more important? Why? I think they’re all equally important. Technology has progressed so far in the past ten years and that really enables us to do our jobs so much more efficiently. That being said, there’s nothing like really good sound design to take a spot to the next level. Of course, without a good mixer, sound design is useless.
From where do your best ideas originate? Having been mixing for just over ten years now I think I’m at the point where I’ve mixed so many spots and been in so many different creative situations that I’m able to pull from past experiences and use them to my advantage. I also love to pick the brains of whatever creative team I’m working with. I usually find that someone in the room has a completely different way of seeing or hearing things than I might. Collaboration is key.
How do you overcome a creative block? When I’m stuck, usually just getting out of my chair for a hot cup a tea will clear my head. Sometimes you have to step away from something to see the bigger picture. Also, working with so many talented people, while I’m on my way to getting a cup of tea I usually come across someone that I can bounce an idea off of and get an entirely different perspective.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Infinite.
What well-known project is desperately in need of better sound? In general, I’m not a huge fan of spots that are over-edited or over-designed. I find it pretty assaulting when a spot has 50 edits in 30 seconds and there’s a sound for every single thing; sometimes they’re completely nonsensical but editors throw them in just because they can. I like when things are done tastefully and the sounds are meaningful.
Do you have creative outlets other than sound mixing? I really enjoy doing work around my house. I fancy myself a pretty decent carpenter.
What music are you listening to right now? The new Dave Matthews Band album is impressive. Mat Kearney is one of my favorite artists and the most recent Meshuggah record is insane.
What product/gadget can you not live without? I feel like its a cop-out to say the iPhone, but how can you deny its impact? I’m a commuter and take the LIRR everyday and I have lots of time to kill. To be able to have thousands of songs, books and movies at my fingertips is amazing.
What’s the strangest sound mixing project you’ve ever worked on? Hands down, it was being on The Celebrity Apprentice… twice! Not only was I part of the show, I had to do my job while being filmed.
What’s your favorite quote? “Sometimes, bad is bad.” —Huey Lewis
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Learn from everyone around you. The ad industry is one of the coolest places to work and it’s filled with so many amazing people who are shaping culture. It’s a very small industry and it’s so much fun to be a part of it.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? That all projects eventually come to an end. It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama of whatever project you’re currently working on, that it can make your day very daunting.