Five Questions with Another Country Creative Director Joe Philips

What do Drax the Destroyer, Chris Isaak and a raucous round of Hollywood Squares have in common? They’re all right here as Another Country’s Creative Director of Sonic Branding Joe Philips stops by for a thoroughly entertaining round of Five Questions with SCREEN. Let’s get to it!

SCREEN: Joe, if you could play any superhero in a major motion picture, who would it be?

JOE: As a kid, I loved the reruns of 60’s Batman. That vivid, colorful, comic world really pulled me in. When Burton’s Batman came out in 1989, I remember begging my Mom to take me opening weekend. We made some kind of chore-barter agreement and she did end up taking me, which is a great memory. And without question, I root for Nolan’s Batman.

But to answer your question, I think at this point in my life I’d like to play Dave Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer. His portrayal and delivery cracks me up, and nowadays I could use more of that light-hearted absurdity and less dark vengeance.

Joe, you’ll enjoy this mashup from Digital Spy of that light-hearted absurdity you love from Drax

SCREEN: Celebrity crush?

JOE: For some reason, these questions are really taking me back to my youth. In that spirit, I’m thinking maybe Elizabeth Shue in Karate Kid, or Lea Thompson in Back to the Future, or Helena Christensen in Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game video. They all gave me the feels.

Joe, this music video throwback is for you!

SCREEN: You are the expert of sound so we have to ask, what is your favorite song or piece of music or sound ever?

JOE: Driving along a little dirt road with my windows open, one summer night near Black Lake State Forest Campground in Michigan, I found myself in the middle of the loudest, swirling cicada symphony I’ve ever heard. There must have been a gazillion in the brood, buzzing away in unison. It was so spectacular that I was compelled to pull over, shut the car off, close my eyes and just listen.

I love actively listening to the sounds of the natural world. In particular, I find I’m delighted and intrigued by smaller, granular noises that cascade into full range sonic experiences – the breeze through the pines, the bell curve of raindrops in the storm, the call and response of a large group of birds in a field, and so on. Sure, you can try to record these moments, but playback will inevitably pale in comparison to the physical, immersive, sonic experience.

SCREEN: Your greatest athletic achievement?

JOE: As a young man, I studied and taught martial arts for a number of years, earning 2 black belts in different styles along the way. I was drawn to Eastern philosophy and curious about slow, far-sighted discipline and strategy. For me, I’d have to say attaining my first black belt in Taekwondo was my greatest athletic achievement. It showed me not only that I could achieve what I set my mind to, but that sometimes slow and steady does win the race.

Thank you to Joe for sharing this photo from that special moment…

SCREEN: If you could be a contestant on any game show or reality show in television history, what would it be?

JOE: My brain says Supermarket Sweep, but my heart knows that “X gets the square” – it’s gotta be John Davidson’s The New Hollywood Squares. The celebrity panelists of that era were really fun, and the glowing blue Xs and pink Os that tower behind the contestants flaunted that classic 80s vibe. I remember this show being big in my house growing up and thinking about it now takes me right back to my childhood…


Holiday season is here so we have to ask… what was the best holiday gift you have ever received?

JOE: For the past several years, I’ve been asking for small noise makers or instruments from people. Nothing expensive or outlandish, just fun and whimsical. I’ve received some good ones – balafon marimbas, kalimbas, tuning forks, pitch keys, harmonicas, etc. I like to sample them and try to utilize the sounds in unexpected ways in my compositions and sound design.

Thank you to Joe for the following photo of these glorious gifts…

SCREEN: Worst job ever?

JOE: When I was maybe 14, my Dad got me a job as a groundskeeper for a small commercial building complex on the outskirts of the town that I grew up in. The hours were flexible and it paid well at that time, so I was initially excited.

But, I had no co-workers and the position was unsupervised. I was always alone and bored, with no one to talk to, and I felt captive. Also, the job was never finished – just a thankless cycle of cleaning, sweeping, raking, pulling weeds, etc. I remember hating it and it didn’t last long.

SCREEN: Best advice you’ve ever been given?

JOE: While my band was working with record producer Drew Peters, we found ourselves arguing over minor panning and level adjustments in a final mix session. To get everyone back on the same page, Drew explained that there’s infinite choices to make and ideas to chase down. We needed to ask ourselves: were we in the general area we were originally aiming for? If so, then we were in the ‘Window of Acceptability” and things were probably good. Could one instrument have been louder? Sure. Could we EQ another instrument even more? Absolutely. Anything was doable, but those changes really wouldn’t impact the average listener’s experience.

Endless tweaking doesn’t necessarily produce tangible gains. If you’re in the zone, but still unsatisfied, there’s a good chance you’re overthinking it.

I find myself returning to this advice often in my work.

Thanks for playing, Joe! For more from Joe and the fabulous folx at Another Country click right here.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for next week’s round of Five Questions with SCREEN. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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