Split An Atom is a multiple award-winning integrated marketing agency cum creative studio. We provide the usual marketing, advertising, public relations et al, and also offer more creative things such as original musical scores for motion picture and interactive music for video games, mixing and re-recording mixing, mastering, content writing, book proofreading and editing, and much more.
Tell us about yourself?
I’ve been using computers since I was a toddler. I’m largely still doing what I’ve always done, ever since I was two years old with a tape recorder and a microphone. I just kept pulling on a piece of string as I was wondering where it could take me.
I’ve had a life-long interest in what computers can do as a medium for creativity, and as a medium for distributing content and selling through. I knew I had to get into it when I was buying things from around the world online as a child in the 90s—places I’d heard about but never dreamed I could ever visit to buy what I wanted.
Being able to buy from around the world really exposed me to a lot of different cultures and different ways of doing business and presenting products. Mind-expanding.
There were a few Japanese record stores that used to send me CDs from obscure labels that only made 1,000-5,000 copies of each CD, and simply wasn’t available digitally as this was prior to iPods becoming a thing. Same goes for games from around the world.
I used to spend weeks to months waiting for a floppy disk or CD-ROM to drop through my letterbox and give me another injection of culture that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Don’t let the fear of the pandemic spoil your enjoyment of what’s objectively still good. Don’t doomscroll. Breathe. Don’t waste your breath, energy or time on arguing with people who won’t be reasoned with despite being faced with science and their own lack of media literacy.
What problem does your business solve?
Helping people to do their best work, and then getting that best work in front of the right audience to make it a sustainable success.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Prior to running Split An Atom, I ran an ecommerce business where I was wearing a lot of different hats doing different tasks for what I needed in any given moment.
Ultimately, friends, customers, family, eventually complete strangers—they were all asking me to do the same for them, and I ended up enjoying that more than running an ecommerce business—I don’t particularly enjoy packing and shipping things all day long—so pivoted in the end. Here I am over a decade later still doing what I enjoy.
What is your magic sauce?
We don’t believe in holistic approaches, nor snake oil, and whilst we’re results-focused, the substance of what we and our clients do matters above everything else.
I’m quite focused on the artistic value of any given thing. Whilst I’m quite utilitarian and focused on the substance of what something is quite frequently, I value art massively, whether that’s graphics, writing, music, sound design, videography, dance, I love it all.
There’s a happy medium to be had between function and form. And yes, advertising can be beautiful, and artistic, but what we’re doing these days goes far beyond typical advertising and marketing, we’re focused directly on the product/project itself.
This is why I say “cum creative studio” as we’re really going above and beyond what others are doing.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
I would love for the projects we work on to get further theatrical distribution in terms of motion picture, that was a huge novelty. TV syndication has been amazing too. You reach an entirely different demographic of people that you otherwise might not if you focus on just the internet.
Over the past few years we’ve gotten more and more involved with video game development in terms of musical scores—”video game music”—like inbetweengames’ All Walls Must Fall, and Psychoclast Software’s Manta. Now we’re starting to make games of our own that we will publish under Split An Atom as a brand.
We’re also very interested in the crossover between video games and cinema. I was inspired by Jordan Mechner’s The Last Express (1997), Charles Cecil’s Broken Sword (1996), and of course Life is Strange (2015).
One of the projects we’re currently working on aims to blur that line between movie and game even further.
Our own in-house projects are at least several years away as we are largely in early development, or planning for them. Playable prototypes exist. Scripts exist. Music exists.
I’m very happy to announce that I’m working with my family member and long-term colleague Bryan Desrosiers on a game called Toddformer—a Megaman-like Metroidvania—for which I’m twiddling a bit of code on, doing audio post-production, writing story and doing scenario design. This is several years away from release.
To be clear, working with others is still our primary focus, and likely always will be. We love the constant injection of fresh third-party perspectives, and celebrating our differences with others around the world. I genuinely love what we do and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Video games are the modern ultimate medium—combining all skills in their production and marketing loops. Now that we can have real actors in video games in all their glory, there’s no limits to what we can do.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Being asked to market objectively lacking products or services, and being forced to tell biz that they need to go back to the drawing board before we can work with them.
Whilst the adage of good products selling themselves might be true, we also don’t believe in peddling bad or flawed product design, nor poor ergonomics.
As a positive consequence, we now do a lot of consulting regarding products and services. Things can always be better, particularly with tools in a niche workflow.
Sometimes it just needs a biz to accept some criticism from an outside perspective that won’t blow smoke up their ass, especially if we have used a lot of competing options over the years to tell them what needs to change, or what an idealized version would be like.
Some biz aren’t very effective at triaging feedback. Others aren’t very effective at taking action on triaged feedback. “You can lead a horse to water” and all that. I’d say most biz are very effective at it though, and the results have been great for those that act on that feedback.
The ones that don’t—well, they’re going through an increasingly hard time, and it isn’t for a lack of potential with what they do, it’s for a reluctance to act as the profits matter more than the quality of the tool to them.
Businesses would do well to listen to their existing customers, and prospective customers. If the people within a business don’t believe in dogfooding—using what they create—how are they going to understand what’s a bad design?
This is why it is so important to get feedback from people who use your product all day every day if that’s the usage frequency.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
We’re happy to work with businesses of all sizes, including solo indie video game devs, first-time authors—anybody. We would love to hear from you if you are deeply passionate about what you do and wholeheartedly care about quality. You can find out more about we do on our website: https://www.splitanatom.com/