Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 10 · 2 years ago

10: We’re All Just Trying Not to Yell at Each Other with Professional Whistler Sam Nulton

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sam Nulton may be one of the most interesting people you’ll meet. He’s a professional whistler, has covered tons of sports as a freelance camera operator, has traveled the world, and his music has been featured all over the internet, from workout routines to makeup tutorials. We're chatting the creative process, effective uses of social media, and some of his top experiences as a musician.

Welcome to good people, cool things, the podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. I'm your host, Joey held, and today's guest is Sam Nelton, who just might be one of the most interesting people you'll ever meet. He's a professional whistler, a freelance camera operator, a part owner of the Green Bay packers, and his music has been featured in all kinds of videos across the world, from makeup tutorials to work out routines. He joins the podcast to chat about all of his experiences, offering sage wisdom into things like the creative process, using social media and traveling around the world, and I know that last one is on hold for right now. We're going to get back to what we're going to see some great things and the meantime, Sam, take it away. Have you heard that jingle before? It's a toys r US jingle. My name is Sam Nelton. I'm the person that whistled that Jangle, my professional whistler. Yep, that's a thing. That's magical. It's magical. So how did you? How did you get that? How did you score the toys our US Gig? Well, it's you want the long story of the short story. That's a podcast. Let's get the long story. Let's get the long story, all right. So I'm a singer as well. I'm a fresh professional singer and whistler in New York City and I am in a bunch of a cappella groups, professional a cappella groups and and Semipro and things like that. And we were at a acapella competition and there the MC was a professional whistler. I thought, well, I can do that, as I could do what he's doing, and so I looked into it, because it's, you know, what a joke that is, a professional whistler. You kidding me? And so I looked into it and there's this whole world of competitive whistling. Every year there's a, well, every other year there is a world whish whistling championships in Tokyo, which I've been to a couple times now. But because of that, people on social media kind of knew that that's the weird, quirky thing that I can do. And so a friend of mine was working at a voiceover agency that got this voiceover gig, quote unquote. Even though it was whistling, they also had a voiceover component to it that someone else did, but they needed a whistler. So it was just like booking a voiceover gig, except whistling voice over Gig Toys. R US wanted their jingle to be whistled by a professional. So he knew who I was and brought me in. He's like, yeah, we're just going to use you. That's nice, we're not going keep looking for people. So did you did you nail it in one take or did it you have to go through it...

...a few times? Well, I did have to audition, I guess once, and so I had to kind of show off a little bit just to prove that I could, I knew what I was doing. MMM, because you know, anybody can whistle, basically, and so I kind of just went crazy like a like something like that, you know, just go into town. But then the actual one, the Jink, it was the full jingle. I don't want to go hope I'm atizer as kid. It's like thirty, forty five seconds long, the full version that they wanted. And so, you know, I learned the jingle and then I got in there and apparently the jingle was a little bit different. Oh Wow, like they are different. The melody was just slightly different here and there throughout the whole thing, so I had to kind of adapt in the sound booth, but I'd have plenty of experience vocally doing that, so that wasn't too big of an issue. But yeah, magical, magical. And what was it extra? Devastating them when toys R US went bankrupt? Or head it had been enough, but I guess I just I just now I can claim that they paid me so much money that I made them bankrupt, so that's fun. I'm just sad that I never got to see it in a commercial or anything like that. It was just an online thing that they put out and they were going to put it into a campaign and it was cool because they showed me in the in the studio the video is going to go over. It's kids running into the store on this big jib shot. That's that's pushing into the toys are a store. So that was cool and I was excited to actually hear that and have people around the country go, Oh, yeah, I've heard that, but they've heard the jingle. And so if you say that that I'm the I'm the whistle of toys R us, they know what that means. I maybe there's a bootleg version of what was never on TV, but somewhere? Yeah, somewhere. I should look that up. Actually, that's a great question. I should see if that exists. Yes, if so, please share on air, toys, are as, commercials. It's hot on Youtube. It's a hot subgenre. I mean it's amazing what I'll get recommended for on on Youtube, especially, yeah, especially, I mean related videos. Like, yeah, I don't get it, but the related videos have scored me so much work on Youtube. I put weird musical videos up and people find them because they're recommended from other weird rabbit holes that they're in the middle of. Whatever it is that they get recommended they somehow...

...find professional whistler videos. I mean it's not a it's not a bad little area to is set yourself up in, and I always enjoy I feel like you've been on a role lately with your appearing in, like your music appearing in random videos. So there's actually a cool thing out called thematic now for for people that have bands that they're just looking to get their music out there. You can sign up for this service. So all these youtube creators and Instagram, whoever they're, you know, makeup tutorials or, you know, videos of their vacation. Youtube is going to flag all those. You know, they don't want chain smoker songs in your videos because they want to pay the chain smokers or their publishers and and so thematic. You can sign up your music to be royalty free in these videos, but they they have to tag you in the video or, you know, in the in the comments or whatever as the tradeoff. And so it's a way to get your music exposed, which is really interesting because of having some of my I have a sent a modern synthpop band in Brooklyn here and some of that music has been in dance workout videos in the Philippines and it's just amazing to see what people come up with. And it's cool because sometimes people are like they really use your music as a as a I don't know, I'm means of telling the story, and sometimes they're not paying attention to it at all. It's just there because they need some sounds and it's equally cool just to you know, it's you know, as a small time artist, it's nice to have people throw your music away kind of almost. It sounds it sounds kind of a counterintuitive, but it feels almost validating in a way. So do you get alerted when someone uses your music in a video, or do you just happen to like, stumble upon this or someone shares it with you? Well, if they like on instagram that they have to tag you, and so I get that alert. But things on Youtube, they have a they have a portal where you can see all of the the pickups that you've recently gotten, and some of them are interesting. Can you share a few others also? We'd be remiss in saying the name of your band, good night the satellite. That's right. Yeah, good night the saddle. We're doing. We're dicred job provoding a yeah, exactly, slacking on my on my social media present. Don't forget to like him, subscribe on Youtube and, yes, facebook and twitter and all those will be answering questions for the first thirty minutes after this. Yeah, Yep, yeah, so my band, good night the satellite, has a has been in so many videos, mostly makeup tutorials. For whatever reason, they just because it. It's it's extra super happy music, super poppy, super bright kind of music. So that lends itself...

...well, to energetic tutorials about the latest from whatever I cream you need to put on before you put your foundation at whatever it is the some of those things. Yeah, and and different people's vacation videos that have about eight views on them. But that's fine too. That's a nice yeah, that's a nice vacation soundtrack. While you're is it. Has there ever been? I mean, I guess maybe this is too too recently to really inspire you, but I know you're a big traveler. So have you seen your music in any any videos that have inspired you to maybe plan a future trip somewhere, because it just looks so appealing? I mean a lot of the PLO I want to travel everywhere. been a lot of places, but there's a lot left to go. World's a big place. But yeah, I mean the next one is the next one. For for us as grease, we're going to go to Greece next, whenever next is. and well, that's often, you know, people use that as their their travel videos because it's so easy to get pretty pictures of Greece and Instagram influencers like those pictures. So yeah, kind of like to go to Greece because of that nice that's yeah, grease is on my list as well. Also, whenever next is, who knows, right, whenever? That is lovely. So you going back a little bit to the the whistling championships. How how do you qualify for this? How, like, how did how did you go from Oh, like I'm doing jingles and and whistling and now I'm performing internationally? Yeah, it's so. I mean you have to apply and you send in a classical song and a contemporary song, so like a jazz or pop song whatever, and then you either get accepted or not, and you probably get accepted. There's not tons and tons and tons of people applying for this, so odds are good that you'll get in. But then when you go, you have to do a classical piece followed immediately by a contemporary piece, about four minutes each, and then, if you are good enough, you go to the finals the next day and you have to do another classical piece and contemporary piece. So you got four songs that you're taken to Tokyo. And the first time I went, I made the finals. There were seven of us and it took a couple months to translate all the all the scores, and so...

...the top three people got trophies and I didn't get a trophy. So I'm like, okay, well, I'm either four, five, six or seven, and when the score sheets came back I was eight. So somehow, somehow, I was so offensive in the final they went now move somebody else up. That was horrible, which I'm sure isn't true, but it is probably a translation thing, but I think it's. I just think it's funny that I never I don't care to know what I was probably seventh. So Act you do in the final that? I don't know. I wow, rageous. Ran Out of the audience and punch the judges. Probably shouldn't have done that. I would have scored that a bronze, at least I would. I didn't think it was my best work of all time, but it certainly wasn't worth a down Grad so somebody else that didn't do two extra songs. I somehow got negative points. Maybe. I mean, that's it. That's impressive in its own right. So yeah, I'm just aming. I got seventh place. The one thing that was cool about it, though, was right before I went on stage, the person that went before me. We're off in the wings. So no, he sees us. He's just the the stage manager back there and he did his set, I guess you would call it, and he came back and he was standing in the legs where nobody, like I was the only person that could see him. He turned around to the stage and bowed in reverence to the stage, because the most Japanese thing I've ever seen and I just thought it was so cool. They's like to just give respect to the space that you just performed in, like thank you for giving me this opportunity to perform. Piles of wood that collectively make a stage just a weird, weird competition, but in enticing enough to go back in two thousand and eighteen right. Yeah, yeah, I mean the first time I went I just applied kind of as a joke, because you have to pay to go. It's not like they send you over there and not find that's a long ways away, and so I posted about it on facebook, like Hey, I got accepted to this thing. I'm not going, but isn't that cool? And someone else was like, okay, I look this up and it's eight blocks from my apartment. I have a spare room if you want to go. Like okay, well, that takes that, you know, just just a flight now. So I went. But yeah, it was so. I mean Tokyo is just such an incredible city that had to go back and it was. It is just amazing. That place is incredible. Did you boost your your performance? That's no. No, no, no, no, I did quite the opposite.

Did Not try nearly as hard. I didn't. I didn't make the finals this time. But yeah, the this isn't my entire life. For some people this is everything and they're devastated if they don't make the finals or if they don't win or whatever it is, and for me it's just a fun adventure. I just enjoy and adventure and news music as a means to an end. I kind of feel like that's a good sort of descriptor of you in general, because I feel like you, I, at least of all the people I'm friends with on Facebook, have the widest variety of posts that you should try, whether it's, yeah, be recent. Why does this exist? Of just like weird gifts to your questions of the day. So, yeah, where do you find all this? It's no, I mean I have a lot of free Toi as a freelancer. I work my day job, is. I work in television. I'm a freelance camera operator for television, mostly sports, but that means I'm not working every day, which means I have tons of time to work on music. And if I'm bored of that or I've done it already for the day I have, I can just explore social media and find the I can finish it. I can finish all of facebook and find all of the crazy gifts and all of that stuff. Yeah, I try to. Yeah, it really is all about adventure. I'm more interested in adventure. I have no like affinity for television, but I'm passionate about it because of the places it takes me and the experiences I get because of it. So, yeah, approach music the same way. I guess monthly. What are some of I was going to put this as our top three, but it's just such a great segue. What are some of the places you've gotten to go to as a camera operator? It's a camerapper. Well, I do a lot of tennis, so I've done the Miami Open, Indian Wells in California, I did Montreal last year and I do the US Open every year. So in here in New York, which we want an emmy for last year. I was Nice, Nice First Emmy. Yeah, it's mostly that I do a lot of work at at Madison Square Garden, though, and so you know, being on the floor at the garden getting run into by NBA players or hockey players or whatever it is, I guess. Yeah, that's the one. I mean, you tend to get jaded by those things when that's where you work all the time. But it is still cool to be on the ice for an NHL shootout, like it's just you, the players and the refs and you're on the ice during gameplay. I mean that's that's pretty cool. It's very cool. Have you gotten trucked before? Not. Well, I mean I mean the...

...other day I got crashed into by RJ Barrett, who not eat, not a small man. Yeah, no, he's not a small man. The worst part about it is that he bounced off of Rudy Gobert right before that. Oh, no, amazing, but yeah, I get I tend to. So. Rj Barrett, for people that don't know, is he played for Duke, who's a big star on Duke and is now in the New York Knicks and as a rookie, he like steps on my foot all the time because I'll be shooting camera underneath the basket or close to the court and he, more than anybody, runs into me, which I think is because he's a rookie and he's trying harder than everybody else. Yeah, it's usually the younger players, partially because they haven't learned the exact boundaries of where their feet can step out of bounds and things like that before they step on people, which is fine. I mean, you're that close, you expected to get stepped on. It's just usually the younger players that barrel India at full speed, but so far you haven't had any Dennis ramen getting kicked. No actions. Okay, no, no, no, they're usually pretty nice. Yeah, there's a few people that are real nice about helping you back up. It's a if they run into the air or whatever. But can you name names? Do you want to? You want to give anyone? You might be more out. WHO's the other guy, the the Star on the Jazz Donovan Mitchell? Yes, Donovan Mitchell is is one of the nicest people in the NBA. He crashed into our other camera operator on the other side and that same night and helped everybody up and his mom was actually there, and so it was a yeah, he's he's a nice guy. Eyes. Yeah, it's good. It's good when people aren't jerks. Right, sometimes there jerks, but I won't name them. It's gonna say yeah, you can do one, one nice shout out one, yeah, exactly, one step up your game. Shadow. Yeah, yeah, I I certainly have much less experience as a camera operator, but I remember when we were at Miami. This might have been after you left, but maybe maybe you're still there where we we did like a preseason basketball game. Yeah, you MTV folks, and I remember being under the basket for part of that and had just a host of people all kind of crash into like the chair I was sitting on. So we all just kind of tumbled down and I just remember someone in my ear being like how did you get that from, like download? I was like I don't know, because this I've never done this before and I first time. I can think. It was pointing like I'll see you. I have the video. Shouldn't you know? But that was good. Everyone was very apologetic to I could not tell you any players involved,...

...but yeah, they were all, I mean all college players, that probably didn't make the NBA, but that's true. Well farther than I was. One that made the NFL, but that was about it. Yeah, to actually write with Eric swove as well. Yeah, there were a couple of them shower really get in the weeds for they listening, really care about two thousand and seven Miami Hurricanes basketball, but then became tight ends in the NFL's very specific fan base. That's what we're going for here. Hey, you gotta be Niche. She got to be niche to get yeah, get the people involved, get the thing, give the people what they want, which is Jimmy Graham tidbits, yes, who's now on the bears. So, as a lot of suffering bears fan, I can again, and as a packers owner I'm very upset about it. Yeah, you've got. How many shares do you have with the team? Oh, just one. Just want us. They're pretty much just a formality. Is Really no point having more than one. No people do. I'd like the idea of someone buying a lot of shares. My voice heard hero's. Yeah, well, this one person voted a ton. Okay, well, that doesn't mean any yeah, throw trash with everything. Yeah, yeah, all of the packers owners collectively are one board seat, so we all get to vote on major issues and then that counts as one vote on the board. So it's it just like a majority rules, or is it just whatever way, whatever they got? Yeah, but what's interesting is I am an actual NFL owner and so I'm requite. I mean, most people don't, because WHO's going to check? But you're required to adhere to the rules of NFL owners, which is you can't disparage the league or any of its properties in any way. So you can't like, you can't, you can't talk bad about Roger Goodell or any of that stuff, because that's you know, they literally could take your ownership away if they wanted to, but they're never going to find out and I just think it's kind of fun that you're it's fun for facebook comments to be like, well, I can't technically comment on this, but if I could, I do like the idea of NFL suits just like storming down, like breaking down your door and being like there's someone in pallel too, with facebook headquarters or whatever that is. It's just just going through feeds and just searching hashtags all day to see if and if if any of the NFL owners said anything disparaging, just looking up goodell sucks and matching it and names. Yeah, wait a minute, let's get a helicopter out to Eurie, Pennsylvania. Yeah, it's magical, magical, magical indeed. Oh, yes, I was so wonderful, so wonderful. Well, well, Oh, no, you go, you go. I was going to say you have a band,...

...don't you? Yes, we do. So are you a guitar? Is that right? Yes, okay, tell me about your band. Oh, lovely, you're in charge of this interview now. I'm sorry. No, no, no, I just thought it was topical, according to the topic of the show today. Yes, according to the actually, am wearing a shirt. I don't know if you can really see it, but it's a it's a skeleton playing a guitar right on, which I got probably when I was like fourteen or fifteen and, as was my style at the time, bought it like two sizes too big for me. So now, if it's perfectly now, it's perfect. You no longer forever? Yes, and I should certainly have. Haven't changed any way. No, yeah, our band is burning. Years were, I'd say, kind of more just like generally rock now. started out more pop punk, but let's say we've evolved a little bit. And but, yeah, working, working on some new music. If there's any kind of positive from being cooped up all day, yeah, it's getting to getting to work on some new tunes. So hopefully, hopefully, something's out by two thousand and twenty. We've got some demos going and hopefully we can actually, you know, turn them into something listenable. Good time to be creative, isn't it? Yes, have all this space to with no one judging you all. Yes, the Internet, which is easy to turn off. Yeah, so when did you learn how to play the guitar? Hoh Man? I think I probably around like twenty ten or two thousand and eleven is when I felt like, Oh, I'm good enough to at least like play in front of people. Okay, I know, probably throughout all of college. I would like, you know, kind of start trying to play and then never really stuck with it. I had a guitar for Dummies Book. I remember being like okay, but I just kind of they got a lot into like theory and stuff like really early on and I was like that's probably good, but like, I don't know, it's too confusing to me as someone that like just wants to learn some basic chords to start with, and so I think I just found some tabs online and just kind of played along with songs that I liked and I works. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm currently kind of learning the guitars the right word. But I got a guitar for my birthday last year. So I've had it for a year now and just kind of been Fu'son around with it because I have a ton of piano books. I play the piano more than anything, and so all those piano books of your favorite artists have chords on the top and that would just play the chords on the piano, but they also have the shapes for a guitar. They have the you know, the MIT little condensed tabs, basically nice. So my hears how to play a D here's how to play a g here's how to play this g you know, because it's up here and it's going to lead you to you know, it's a different place to put it. It is so difficult, such a hard time. It just is. So it's not intuitive for me for whatever reason. Part of it is that I'm starting on the John Mayer books,...

...which guys just a ridiculous he's like, you know, one of the best guitar players ever, and so he's, you know, modifying all these suspended chords and tossing it a bunch of dissonance, and so it's not really the best place to start. I guess it helps being a musician already, but it's still my fingers don't fit those shapes. On your time. Oh yeah, there's. There's sometimes in like I remember when I was first starting out to where I'd watch tutorials and and they're like yeah, just like stretch your you know, your pinky across four frets here, and I'm like yeah, it doesn't want to. I guess I cannot do that. That's not a human being. There, I'm not double jointed. I'm sorry, I can't write. I will say playing on an electric guitar is far easier. That's a last yeah, electric guitars. Yes, so, I mean that's I think. I think I know my dad had an electric. I think that's mostly what I would practice on when I was first starting out, just because it's yeah, you don't need as much pressure on the strings. You can slide up and down easier. You can get away with power chords. It's just and, yeah, just sounds better if you want to rock. You know. Yeah, well, that's true. Yeah. Well, part of it, though, is that in a New York City apartment, you either have to, that's true, plug in and and put your headphones on, are just unplug the thing and just play it on your lap for a while. Yeah, and when you're learning, that's fine. But yeah, but, yeah, that's a good that's a good point. Having the shared walls probably, yeah, not super conducive to electric no, not really, or any instrument for that for that man, unless you neighbor a drummer. If you've got a drummer neighbor, then maybe you can play. Comply, I sure don't. I'm sure don't. Wait for whatever reason we said. I'm multiple times have have gotten neighbors that scream at each other non stop, like within the house, or like multiple neighbors screaming across, know, within the house. Okay, in the same unit, though, there's still much someone to move out and would be like, all right, finally I moved out, and then somebody moves in and they're equally as mad at each other. Whatever. It's just like to do that. Just life. Yeah, we're all we're all just trying not to yell at each other and some of us are better at it. Should be the the title of the episode and I'll just find that's a yellow each other. I like it. John did. Yeah, magical. Well, well, I don't want to bore you to death too much with my own band, but I know please. You wrote this down as a top three that you wanted to cover. That you always like to ask people. Yeah, your top three bands and artists. We're going to go a layer deeper of that. What are your top three records that people all may should own and or letter into? Yeah, yeah,...

...yeah, so I like asking that quick because everybody, I love that you ask. Top three is I'm a huge fan of questions because it, I mean, it exposes people's, you know, innermost thoughts. So especially on tough questions that they don't know the answers to and they're trying to work out themselves. So top three is always like people don't think about that too often, but for me music is how I communicate the most deeply, and so if someone tells me their top musicians, I understand everything about them because of that. So like if people are painters and they ask who their top painters are, comedians or whatever it is, it tells you like a part of their soul. So I love that because I don't you know, I don't have a top album, so I'd have to think about it, but I guess they kind of follow my favorite artists. I mean my woll unquestionably my number one album of all time is Asia by steely Dan. Finally, after several tries, I got a record that doesn't skip. Oh dive found it in St Louis and brought it back and it actually doesn't skip for once. Yeah, peg is one of my favorite songs. I just I don't know, that's it's hits all the all the right spots for me. And then I mean most people from music. A lot of people's brains kind of coalesce around what music they like when they're in their early s. So and that sticks with them for life. There's, you know, research on that you can look up. But so when I was that age I was listening to Jamiroquois, a lot a lot of people know for virtual insanity, but was actually continued to be big in the UK. So for like modern Synthy funk. He was kind of the the bastion of that genre. So yeah, there's a, you know, dynamite album or the compilation that I just listened to nonstop. I don't know, I'd have to dig deep for that third album there. One of my favorite artists is a guy named Gabe Dixon. He he also went to school at the University of Miami, but he for a while he was Paul McCartney's keyboard player. He's currently the keyboard player for today. She truck's band. Played with super tramp for a while, but he had he writes his own songs. He's a songwriter more than anything and ridiculous piano player. But he actually played at my wedding, which was, AH, wow, the most amazing thing of all time. Flew in from Nashville that morning and flew right back out again. But yeah, he's he's...

...got some some great albums because when he started his band was very, very early s experimental, like Dave Matthews, kind of free for me, jazz pop kind of thing. But he's a tremendous songwriter and you have one of his albums would have to be up there as well. That's awesome. I like I like getting the getting him to play your wedding. That's cool. It was unbelievable. Yeah, it was. That was just it was absolute dream wedding. Also, immediately flying home. Yeah, flying at the more. Yeah, just showed up, played a wedding. I had to wear suit because he's going to a wedding. flew out in a suit and then flew back home again see his family. What a day. baller move all around. Yeah. Yeah, he actually said when he was playing with super tramp on their Europe tour, they would they stayed in Paris or something. Some send Tralles place in Europe and they would fly to their gig every day and fly back to their hotel in Paris every night. All right, well, that's a life. Yeah, I guess rack up those frequent flyer miles. Yeah, well, probably had their own plane, is my guess. True, Yem. Yeah, not the life for me, but still fun. Still Fun. Yeah, although I don't know, I guess getting to see a lot of play if you did it once. Yeah, it would be nice. I actually got I got contacted by Cirque to Sola a couple of years ago to go do a tour because they have a show where one of their ring masters is a whistler, and so like the actual best whistler in the world is now doing that that Gig, which is fantastic. He's way better than I am. He's off doing that, but he's doing that kind of thing where he's touring around Europe and North America and whatever. Yeah, he's unbelievable. He's actolutely unbelieved. Nice. So lots of doors can can open up from for venture toys or as Jingles? Yeah, and from a ventry. Yeah, that's a better lesson. That's a broader lesson. Yeah, lots of doors from about to explore the world and all it has to offer. Love it, love it all right. Well, SAM, you're off the look. Thank you so much for hopping on. If people want to find you or use your music in their own I want to say something besides a makeup tutorial, because I think that it's and I think that's what is. But whatever it is they want to use it for. Yeah, my website is Sam Noltoncom and Ulto N and I'm also on on twitter...

...and Youtube is where I post all my weird videos. I do vocal looping and I do since pop jams and I do whistling videos and by far whistling videos are the most requested, so I have to get a few more of those up, but yeah, we'll see. They're all highly enjoyable, so recommend all listeners to check them out. That's yeah, awesome, good deal. Well, that's that's all. That's all. But of course we're going to end with a crummy joke, as we as we always love to do. I feel like usually these are one miners, but this might even be just like a half liner. It's not even a question, but snare drumming to crash them will fall out of a tree. But Um, nice, good, after it today, people. I like it. I like it. Thank you. That's amazing.

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