Behind the Score: Jeremy Birdsall and making music with a team

Jeremy Birdsall is a composer based in Orlando, Florida. He sat down with ESPN Music to talk about his work on two production music discs - including a pop-inspired Christmas disc he produced in two weeks in 2022.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

ESPN Music: How did you get where you are today where you helped compose music for ESPN?

Jeremy Birdsall:

I work with the Recording Academy and they have a great program called Grammy U where they connect folks that are studying and interested in recording arts and connect them with people that are active Grammy members that are working in music. I love the program and had a great time working together with one of your coordinators. He called me and asked if I wanted to write an album for ESPN. And I said yes. And we freaking did it. And that was the emotional pop disc.

EM: And what was the process for the Christmas disc?

JB: That one was a tight deadline. You asked if I could deliver this for Christmas and I remember saying Christmas 2023? But we somehow did it. I brought on my brother, wife and best friend and included Mark Berry for doing [the] mix and mastering. They were all so into it. They enjoyed the first album so much that when I called and said, “hey you into another one but also like twice as fast?” they all said “Yes, let's go.” So that, that was so encouraging to me that yes it was stressful, it was a lot of work, but it was such a fun process.

EM: Who was all on your team that helped you?

JB: My wife Lynn actually was a co-writer for all the ESPN albums we brought in. She is fantastic, especially when it comes to pop stuff. She has a great ear for the kind of flow that a three minute pop song has. And my brother, Aaron Birdsall, is a fantastic top liner. He's a great vocalist, writer and musician as well. He has that gift for whipping off melodies super fast. And my best friend Asa Vickland was also a co-writer on this and similarly he's a great vocalist, but his gift is lyrics. He writes some profound lyrics and so I just had to give him the context of what we were doing. We had a great pipeline; a great flow and it was a lot of fun to work that way.

EM: When you get a deadline, what are your first steps? After taking a deep breath?

JB: Step 1 was looking at what I have on my plate. Maybe push some people's projects off a couple of days. Can I hurry up and knock some things out? So, I clear my plate and get my team together. Then, we went back and forth about public domain content versus original content and what public domain content we were going to use. It was such a fun conversation with the team. Like, do we really wanna do Jolly Old Saint Nicholas? All right, we're doing Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. It's happening.

EM: What is it like when you first hear your music on television?

JB: Surreal. That's the first word that comes to mind. It was surreal. You know, when, when you're working on music and producing, you work on a song and you write it and you rewrite it and you track it, and then you edit and you mix, and you mix, and you mix and you're on the 20th mix. There's a point when your ears are tired of it because it's burned into your soul and when you wake up the next day, you mix again. There’s no announcement that your song is going to be on so when it does it’s surreal.

EM: What was your favorite moment working on these discs?

JB: The takeaway for me on these two projects was I love working with a team. I can do a lot of stuff on my own, but it's so much better to find somebody who's great at a thing and let them do that so I can do the parts that I’m great at. I love mixing but I'd rather someone great do that part. Yes, I could do this myself, but it's much better working with people who are motivated and talented. Then I can kind of stay in my lane and do what I love to do and the end result is way better.