The studio owned by Rob Jager, whose stage name is ReauBeau, is a music lover’s temple, filled with musical instruments, computers, a comfy sofa and music posters on the walls. These are all the tools he needs to create ‘sick’ beats, compose trailer music and produce his own tracks. ReauBeau lives and breathes music 24/7. Having just returned from an inspirational visit to Tokyo, he’s on deadline to complete a new track this evening. ‘I’ve been doing this full-time for three years now. I’ve created a 30-year plan for myself. One thing I absolutely want to achieve in my career is create at least one legendary track.’
Welcome to the life of Rob Jager, aka ReauBeau: a musical genius who’s establishing a name for himself in the world of sync music. ‘Sync’ refers to the synchronisation of image and sound for tracks used in video games, TV adverts and online videos. But Rob has many fingers in many pies, ranging from creating his own tracks as a singer-songwriter to partnerships with other musical artists such as Kenzo Alvares (one of the judges on talent show Dance Dance Dance – Ed.) Rob started out as a dubstep and drum and bass DJ and made up the moniker ReauBeau along the way, having previously used the name RoboKop.
‘I know, it’s quite a Dutch-sounding name. When I used to spend a lot of time DJing, I went by Robokop. But then I started to get more serious and wanted to get new projects off the ground, so I changed my name to ReauBeau, which has a French ring to it. I started messing around on FruityLoops (digital audio workstation now known as FL Studio) 15 years ago. My mates and I would create beats and do a bit of rapping, except that I would take it a bit more seriously than they did. I was also a member of a hip-hop group when I was younger, but that was more of a hobby. When I started making and playing dubstep music, I took it very seriously. I started DJing, and my second-ever gig was in the United States – how wild is that? I was a DJ for almost five years, but ultimately didn’t find it very fulfilling and after a while I hit a creative wall. I wanted to make music more than anything and be able to make a living at it. I had so much music written that was right here in this studio and that I was itching to release.’
‘I signed up for a competition launched by Red Bull, for which I had to write music that would be used for one of their videos. I received a call from them a month later: it turned out they loved my track and were eager to work with me. I discovered that I had a knack for sync – the synchronisation of image and sound – and decided to learn more about the business. I have since created around 36 tracks for Red Bull and many other clients.’
‘I work for more than 30 companies all over the world. My collaborators are agencies, which represent recording artists who create all kinds of sync music. It’s hard work: you need to build a network and spend a lot of time pitching ideas to clients, but I’ve found it’s got a lot easier as I’ve become more experienced. Once you land your first campaign, things sort of take off from there. I’ve also started working on Hollywood movies, composing music for trailers. Creating music, meeting and collaborating with people... it’s all right up my street. I’ve been travelling around the world for work and meeting with major brands and creatives to create music for them. Just yesterday I was at Vice Toronto, and last week I was on a “recon mission” to Tokyo.’
As a multi-talented artist who loves everything to do with music – syncing, writing, producing, collaborations and spinning the odd tune or two – Rob (aka ReauBeau) is in the lucky position of not having to choose what he likes best.
‘You know, I worked in healthcare until the age of 30. That’s when I decided to give up my job and devote myself to music full-time. I’m now doing something that gives me a lot of joy – I’m not in it for the fame or the awards or anything. I’ve been doing this full-time for three years now. I’ve created a 30-year plan for myself. One thing I absolutely want to achieve in my career is create at least one legendary track. But above all, I want to keep growing and discovering new things. I’m also a singer-songwriter, and I rap and sing as well. I want to become even better at everything I do. For example, I’m involved in organising writing camps together with Soundsright (an Amsterdam-based recording studio), under the name Upnorth. We invite all these singer-songwriters and producers and write three or four really strong tracks together. I will then pitch these tracks to various agencies, for use in TV adverts and other media. That’s how you meet potential new clients and start building relationships.’
What makes making sync music hard is that the images – video or film – are often already completed by the time ReauBeau sets to work on a project. His job is to create the music, sometimes because the reference music is unaffordable, but usually because the reference music is supposed to point him in the right direction in terms of what the brand or the client would like to hear.
‘Sometimes I’m involved in a project from the start and get to decide what type of music to use. However, most jobs are more specific than that, which means the reference music accompanies the images and I’m expected to create something in a similar style.
That is to say, the idea is not to replicate the track but rather to write music that captures the essence – the “vibe,” if you will – of the reference track. It can be tricky enough: for the FIFA game trailer, for example, I spent around three days trying to get the beats right. A sync usually makes the rounds seven or eight times before everyone is satisfied.’
A Day in Rob’s Life
‘I always look forward to Mondays. Although that might sound a little weird, I simply love making music and that happens to be my job! I try to start the day with a cross-fit workout every morning, then aim to arrive in the studio by 11am or so. I check my email, tinker around on the piano for bit, or watch videos for inspiration. I then spend the rest of the day in meetings here at the studio or simply get to work: finishing up tracks or starting new projects. I usually work until eight or nine in the evening, just getting stuff done. I do have a girlfriend, but she lives in Germany, which makes it a bit easier to put in those kinds of hours.’
What makes him proud?
‘The fact that Tiësto remixed my track fills me with pride. I released a track together with Snavs, a Danish artist, through Spinnin’ Records. Two months later, Tiësto started following me on Twitter. He wrote me to tell me he had remixed my track because he loved it so much. Usually you get minor artists remixing well-known DJs, but this time it was the other way around. Sure, that does make me pretty proud. I’m also very proud of the track I was commissioned to make for Need for SpeedTM Heat. That was another highlight for me, as I used to be completely hooked on that game. Fast-forward so many years later, and they ask me to create a track for the game trailer. That trailer even ended up in the Top 10 of most-viewed YouTube videos worldwide.’
‘Yesterday I submitted some music as a pitch for the new Fast & Furious movie. It would be great if they decide to use it. As for the future, I’ll just keep going and see what happens. I would prefer to just keep doing what I’ve been doing all along: producing movie scores, writing songs, releasing my own tracks, and performing. Kenzo Alvares and I will be releasing a new track together soon. And while I’d be very happy to keep doing that, if I really had to choose, I would pick composing music and doing movie scores. While I love performing, there’s nothing better than hearing your own music on a movie soundtrack and knowing that people will be watching that movie for years to come. So, yes, my mission for this year is to compose the music for that Hollywood trailer... and to create that one classic track that people will remember.’
Lessons from the creator
‘Always stay curious! That describes me to a T. I still like to compare myself to a small child, always asking “why?” I want to keep learning, gaining new experiences and stay interested. It’s the best way to learn new things about all areas of life: being curious about people, other creatives and cultures... anything at all, really.’
Hilversum and beyond?
Rob was ‘born, bred and buttered’ in Hilversum, and has lived there ever since. While he sometimes feels the pull of Amsterdam – also because of his professional ties to the city – he considers Hilversum his home.
‘Tokyo is a great city, but when I get back to Hilversum, I really appreciate how quiet and peaceful it is here. Since I do like that tranquillity and the natural beauty we have around here, I think Hilversum is a great place to live. It’s also more affordable than Amsterdam, yet it’s right around the corner. At the end of the day, I’m Dutch through-and-through and love my country. If I manage to do really well for myself, I’d like to buy a farm someday, somewhere in the countryside, with my own studio overlooking the meadows.’