Game On!

Metro Makes Music from Sounds of Tennis Star Serena Williams

headphones on turntable
by Ken Kaplan
Executive Editor
, iQ by Intel

Digital mix master and music producer Metro Boomin takes original sounds of Serena Williams’ smashing forehand to create “Champion Sound.”

After receiving his first laptop at age 13, Metro Boomin quickly became a prolific music producer. But little did he know a decade later he’d craft an anthem for the world’s top tennis women’s champion, Serena Williams.

This past spring, Metro got the call from Intel to capture sounds of Williams playing tennis: her powerful serve, the collision of tennis balls against her racket strings, the ball bouncing rhythmically on the ground before her serve and her fast shuffling footwork.

Metro mixed those iconic sound effects and shaped them into a thunderous beat. The result is “Champion Sound.”

Shortly after she filmed the “Outdated Equipment” TV commercial for Intel, and just prior to taking a hiatus from tennis, Williams met with Metro in a studio to record sounds. The song and behind-the-scenes videos combined to attract more than 5 million views online in the first two months.

“The last time I used environmental sounds to make a beat was probably in high school for some science class,” said the 24-year-old record producer, songwriter and DJ from St. Louis, Missouri.

Legend has it that Metro’s mother bought him his first laptop. She would often drive the eight hour trip from St. Louis to Atlanta so that he could collaborate with artists he met online while in high school. He said his laptop allows him to be creative anytime, anywhere the mood strikes.

“I work in the studio a lot, but I also like to pull my laptop out of my bag anytime I feel inspired,” he said. “Ideas always just come to my mind and having something portable and powerful enough as if I was in the studio is very key to what I do.”

He said he had to make a great beat that Williams loves. One that gets her fired up every day.

“It’s taking the art from her world and merging it with what I do.”

He took each recorded sound, chopped them up and added other sounds from his digital repertoire.

“The actual beat is the ball bouncing and the racket hitting the ball.”

He said the tennis sounds jump out and spark emotions, thoughts and images that are different from just drum and clap sounds. They sound even more interesting when reversed or played in a pattern.

“I like to manipulate sounds in all types of ways. Like taking all the grunts in tennis and putting some echo on it. Or change the pitch on the sound effects to make them sound like different things. It’s really endless where you can go with it.”

Williams has 39 Grand Slam titles, including 23 singles titles, the most Grand Slam wins by a tennis player in the Open Era. Despite missing Wimbledon, the U.S Open and other 2017 tournaments – she recently married and is expecting a child – she is omnipresent in TV commercials and print ads.

“Serena is a world champion,” said Metro. “I want to be a champion. Who would not want to be a champion?”

That motivated him to “put something together that will get her fired up for a match, and she’s going to want to warm up to it every day.”

Next time Williams steps out on the court carrying her oversized racket bag, “Champion Sound” could be what’s blasting through her headphones.

 

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