NPR logo
J. Ralph: Ad Tune Master
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4714399/4714516" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
J. Ralph: Ad Tune Master

Music

J. Ralph: Ad Tune Master

J. Ralph: Ad Tune Master
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4714399/4714516" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
J. Ralph

One of the most famous television commercials scored by J. Ralph is an ad for the Volkswagen Beetle. Volkswagen asked J. Ralph to write music that would make people think that their television sets were broken. Charles Mayer, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Charles Mayer, NPR

Hear J. Ralph's Music

Listen to three full-length songs from the new CD The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu:

'M'
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4714399/4714510" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

(Featured in a Volvo commercial.)

'One Million Miles Away'
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4714399/4714512" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

(Featured in the Volkswagen commercial "Big Day.")

'When She Dances'
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4714399/4714514" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

(Featured in an ad for Honda's Civic Hybrid.)

One of many unique instruments in J. Ralph's cavernous studio is this 60-inch gong

One of many unique instruments in J. Ralph's cavernous studio is this 60-inch gong. "Anything that makes sound, I find inspiration in," he says. "Whether it's raindrops, or crickets, or newspaper rustling, or drums, or gongs or anything." Charles Mayer, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Charles Mayer, NPR

Millions of people listen to J. Ralph's music, yet he's far from a household name. The 29-year-old musician's dreamy, hypnotic compositions have become a hit with advertisers, appearing in ads for Volkswagen, Nike and others.

J. Ralph — whose given name is Josh — has no formal musical training. He spent time working in hip hop studios and got a big record deal for his debut CD, which went nowhere.

Then an ad agency found one of his orchestral songs and licensed it. More ads followed. Among the most famous is one called "Big Day" for Volkswagen. It features a beautiful bride, her father, who frequently checks his watch, and a frantic young groom in a Jetta racing to the church. The ad debuted during the 2001 Super Bowl and ran for three years — an eternity for a commercial.

J. Ralph's compositions, many of which have appeared in commercials, are collected on a new CD, The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu.

"The commercials inadvertently pay for the orchestral album that no record label was interested in paying for," Ralph says.

He speaks with NPR's Melissa Block about his work and commercial success.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.