SEATTLE — You may have noticed a new sound coming from your radio this season and it’s not the likeness of Rick Rizzs, Dave Sims or Mike Blowers. The Seattle Mariners revamped their radio commercials by bringing in a local DJ to remix game highlights, hiring a local rap legend to voice the commercials, and bringing in a savvy sound engineer to put it all together. Josh Pizarro, George Quibuyen and Will Yen are the three talented local people who composed, voiced and mixed this unique campaign.
Writer, musician, rhymer and restaurateur are all titles attributed to the vocal talent of the Mariners radio sound, George Quibuyen. You might know him as Geo or Prometheus Brown of legendary Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars. The second-generation Filipino American grew up in the Puget Sound area, where he co-owns Hood Famous Bakeshop in Seattle.
Quibuyen is no stranger to a recording studio; however, the radio commercials raised challenges as he performed his talents in a new way.
“There are certainly similarities in terms of the equipment used and the engineers sitting at the computer,” Quibuyen said. “I would say 80% of the process was familiar, but the difference came with the pace. I was speaking, I was doing more of a narration that contains music. There was definitely an adjustment period where I had to fight not to speak rhythmically on the track but still match the emotion and intensity. I have a more understated vocal style, so there were times when I had to get into the sporty character, which I appreciated.
When Quibuyen was trying to step into this “sports persona,” he drew inspiration not only from Seattle’s sports community, but also from its heritage and upbringing.
“My first inspiration was the long history of dope Mariners commercials over the years,” Quibuyen said. “Everything from the personality of the players who were able to shine, to Dave Niehaus and his legendary voice and the emotion that I’ve heard in my head all these years. I was channeling that. I think it helped that there have real excitement around leading the team. I didn’t have to pretend. I believe in this team.”
When asked what he liked best about working on this project, Quibuyen replied, wasting no time, “Definitely working with [DJ] Rocryte. I’ve known this guy since he was a kid. We’ve crossed paths so many times, but we’re kind of from different generations. For this project, having two people from two generations of the same community working together was super special. I didn’t even have to choose it. He was already part of the project. I would have done it anyway, but knowing that he was creating the soundtrack was really dope.
When Josh Pizarro, known as DJ Rocryte, isn’t mixing on Seattle’s nightlife scene or opening for artists like Slick Rick, Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, you can find him in The ‘Pen at T-Mobile Park to get the crowd going. ready for a game. Entering the eighth year of working with the Mariners, this season came with a new opportunity and responsibility to bring Mariners radio spots to life.
“The process was really fun,” Pizarro said. “I was basically provided with the paint, and the Mariners said, ‘Hey man, paint the picture,’ so I got to do whatever I wanted to do. This project was very different from my daily life, I don’t strum on a Dua Lipa song or play the top 40 songs on the radio. I had one track and 10 highlights and I had to figure out what to do with that in 40 seconds. It motivated me and leveled me up, you have to have clean stripes because everyone is going to listen to that.
With 40 seconds and many different stakeholders working on this project, Pizarro had to balance the wants and needs of everyone involved, while staying true to who he was and his signature sound. Pizarro draws inspiration from his background but also from the fact that he was practically born into the music industry. His father, Angelo Pizarro, is a local musician and composer.
“Growing up, it was a different life,” Pizarro said. “I slept behind speakers, listened to music constantly, rarely was home, toured with my dad. I think my background and heritage play a role in the music I produce because I’ve always listened to so many different types of music and sounds, that from there you can bring more modern hip-hop to it. I’ve always been told to try to fit in as much as possible, so what made me connect with my culture and my heritage was really music. With music, you can really express yourself.
The band and the project were special from the start, where Seattle artists came together to create a unique and inspiring product that would reach a huge audience.
“Working on this project was really amazing,” said Pizarro. “Working with George [Quibuyen] was a dream of mine for so long because he wanted to work with my dad at the time and my dad couldn’t for some reason. So when I was asked to do this and I heard George [Quibuyen] was on it, I jumped at the chance. Will be [Yen] was also amazing. He is really fast and very efficient in what he does.
Yen, sound designer and engineer at world-class studio Formosa Interactive Seattle, completes the trio of artists who created the sound of Mariners radio this season. Don’t let Yen’s laid back personality fool you, his solid skills and impressive CV speak for themselves. After working on projects for Amazon, Microsoft, Nintendo and more, Yen entered the world of sports to help organize this new project or the Mariners – and loved every minute of it.
“The Mariners came to me and said they were going to do something a little different for the radio commercials this year, cutting play calls with some cool music, all mixed together,” Yen said. “They got some content from DJ Rocryte and then we sat down in the studio and made sure everything was glued together. Then George came in and did his voiceovers. My favorite part of the project is when DJ Rocryte came along and actually brought his whole set of controllers and played the music. He was scratching live to the music so it was super fun and interactive.
When Yen was asked what he draws inspiration from, he noted aspects of his culture and heritage, but also the everyday content he absorbs like movies and TV shows.
“Subconsciously, I think my culture and heritage push me in certain directions,” Yen said. “I don’t see many other Asian American sound engineers, at least in the field I’ve been in, so it’s always nice to have representation. I also draw inspiration from things I always pay attention to the little things I hear every day.
Having a greater representation of Asian Americans in sound engineering is something Yen sees as important for the next generation in the field. When asked if he had any advice or words of wisdom for young people in his community or anyone looking to pursue a career in audio/sound engineering, he replied, “ Go ahead, whatever it is, sound design or media, don’t be afraid to do something silly and wild. Get off the beaten track.
These three talented and impactful artists have brought something unique and inspiring to the table when creating the new sound of the Mariners this season. Each of them drawing inspiration from their roots in different ways, it created not only a unique sound, but an opportunity to showcase and celebrate their community.