Collaborating with a creative team to achieve a common goal is one of my favourite aspects of the work that I do. The fact that I get paid to do it on a musical level is something I am unreservedly grateful for. One of my goals is to do this sense of gratitude justice by offering worthy work at the alter of the collective muse.


Agency: Draft FCB

Brief: To produce a piece of modern party music with a subtle South African flavor. References included female rappers like Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, and Kesha.

Notes: Modern hip-hop was the obvious stylistic production choice for this commercial, and to bring in the local flavor I went with a typically South African chord/melodic progression. We eventually opted for piano to provide the classic sound that a brand like Toyota needs, and workshopped with up and coming rapper Zinny to provide a celebratory hip hop vocal to crown it.

Five Roses

Agency: M&C Saatchi Abel

Brief: To capture the transportive, relaxing moment of the first sip of a freshly brewed cup of tea, retaining a sense of authenticity as well as tapping in to the universal pleasure of tea drinking.

Notes: In close collaboration with the production house (First Pencil TV), we built a sonic world on the frame of a lilting 6/8 rhythm and a strong, simple melody, creating a sense of authenticity by using traditional Indian session musicians on Bansoori and Tabla, and mirroring the everyday pleasure of enjoying a great cup of tea by using more universal instruments like piano and harp.


Agency: Pacinamix

Brief: To create fun, celebratory and energetic music with a uniquely South African feel to bind the themes of urgency, adversity, triumph and especially humor.

Notes: Given the nexus between coffee, South African flavor, tension, resolution, and humor, a South African jazz style seemed like a natural fit. The music simmers as the protagonist searches for her coffee fix, and explodes into a big triumphant horn section blast when she accomplishes her mission.


Agency: Hammersmith and Elephant

Brief: Referencing minimalist keyboard composers Ólafur Arnolds, Max Richter and Nils Frahm, I was briefed to create a delicate, graceful accompaniment to highlight the ideas of simplicity and natural beauty.

Notes: While the client references were modern, the tradition of beautiful keyboard music dates back hundreds of years. I opted for a very hushed, very soft sound to draw out the almost tactile nature of the piano’s hammers gently tapping the strings. I used a relatively classic chord progression, but with interesting chord tones to bring out a natural beauty and resonance.


Agency: FCB

Brief: To write and produce a song that fits with the storyline as well as feeling classic enough for it to be busked on the street (the storyline includes two buskers), that can then be grown into a full, ‘solid gold’ sounding piece at the end of the commercial.

Notes: I immediately grabbed the opportunity to work in one of my favorite genres (classic R’nB), casting the vehicle (a Toyota Aygo) as the object of the singer’s desires. I self-referenced the classic 50s and 60’s production of soul singers like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Little Richard, but of course a production is only as good as the singer - luckily one of my favorite vocalists to work with, Tebogo Moloto was ready and available to bring his magic.

A Collection of Other Work

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It’s rare that you come across outstanding talent like Hugh Davison. I had the pleasure to work with Hugh and his co-writer, Monde on our Boom Songs Project during my time as producer at Monarchy Productions CC. They went above and beyond to meet the deadline, the creative execution was on point and of high quality. I recommend him without any reservation.
Via Henderson, Freelance Project Manager and Producer
Having worked with Hugh on a number of very different music related projects over many years, I can highly recommend him for how easy he is to collaborate with, how fast and enthusiastic he is, and, most importantly, for his skill and understanding of music. Every time I've spoken with Hugh, he manages to surprise me with the sheer breadth of his knowledge.
Adam G Ableson, Copywriter, Havas World Wide South Africa
When we get the fortunate opportunity to work with Hugh, he never fails in delivering the perfect piece of music. His quality of output and ability to work under pressure (sometimes in a couple of days) never fails to amaze me. He collaborates with our Directors on every job and his general professionalism makes him a pleasure to work with. Hugh is our first call on music composition and I hope we get to work together again very soon.
Linda Bogle, Executive Producer, Your Girlfriend Films
Hugh is a consummate professional and his years of experience shine through in all the work he does. I worked with Hugh on some demo songs that needed to be recorded and fleshed out into full productions. It was such a pleasure to work with a producer who is so dedicated to helping the artist realise a vision and moulding each song into something special. His work is polished, sophisticated and full of flair. He captures each instrument beautifully and his production work is bolstered by his incredible musicianship. He also achieves that wonderful combination of an organic and polished mix, which is something rare.
Laurie Levine, Singer Songwriter
Over the past decade as a commercials director, I have been lucky enough to have worked with Hugh many times, and have gone to great lengths and many schedule rearrangements to ensure that my projects get a track written by him. As a music composer, Hugh is my go-to-guy and I have always relied on not only on his technical expertise, but also his creative input to ensure my films get the best score they can. Whether it's composing pure instrumentals, or coming up with great lyrics that further strengthen the campaign's ideas, Hugh's professionalism and genre-bending capability to flip between styles always gives me security in knowing that I can throw anything his way and he will exceed expectations.

Hugh is not only the best around, but a true friend and collaborator in my personal creative process – if Hugh doesn't get to write a track for my film, I always wonder what could have been...
Morgan Dingle, Director, Your Girlfriend Films
Hugh has been creating music for my ads in every imaginable genre for every imaginable product category my entire career. He doesn’t have a particular style exactly, but almost every single one of his compositions is an earworm. The unlikely and fantastically fun song produced some time ago for Toyota Stories called, “Jitesh’s Corolla”, is still the Toyota advertising team’s anthem. Hugh is an absolute pleasure to work with. He loves music and this passion is audible. The quality of the final product is always excellent. He can work to silly deadlines, he can give you options, he can take feedback and he can work with both good and bad briefs. When Hugh has some time and a bit of wiggle room to work, he always surprises me with the pilot sketches he offers up. He can often find fresh and unexpected ways in to a soundtrack. He can also write a pretty good lyric. Highly recommended.
Tian van den Heever, Executive Creative Director, FCB
Every opportunity I have to compose music for a project I will call Hugh Davison. There is no one who is more consistently astonishing in the work he delivers. His attitude is always “yes I can do that” and there is no battle of the ego with him. If you need a change he will find a way to make that change work, not argue with you about why the change you want is wrong. He is always agreeable and flexible and is reliable with deadlines. Clients love his work - even the most difficult ones who always argue about music will love the tracks he makes. He is my secret weapon. Except I don’t want him to be a secret because he’s too good for that. From short jingles for Automark and Ceres to beautiful compositions with that sought after “South-African flavor without feeling too obviously South African” for McDonalds, his work is consistently brilliant. I will keep using him until he’s so fancy he stops answering my calls.
Juniper Hammond, Director, Hungry Films
Hugh Davison is a composer that I believe is one of the best out there. We’ve often come to him with work that has tight deadlines and high pressure. Every time, Hugh has come back with brilliant ideas, especially in preprod, that he’s then been able to adapt to a final product that’s never left us disappointed. In recent times where budgets and schedules are tight, Hugh as always delivered and delivered above our expectations. What I love is that he gets involved from the starting point so that our creative decisions work with what he has in mind for the end product. And he doesn’t just think of the sound but has an inherent ability to visualize the director’s vision and put that into tangible results. I highly recommend Hugh for someone who is production friendly, collaborative and full of bright ideas that elevate us to better work.
Kofi Zwana, Director, Hungry Films
Hugh is a pleasure to work with. Not only does he nail the brief, but he will do this countless times. He has a great musical sensitivity, and is not scared of collaborating with creatives, walking the fine line of meeting expectations while keeping true to your creative vision, and all with a light and pleasant demeanor. I recommend him for work all the time!
Brenda Wilson, Producer, First Pencil TV
I have worked with Hugh for many years.Hugh is very committed and can do amazing things within a short period of time.Hugh's quality of work is great and he really does give that special touch.He works well under pressure and with tight deadlines. He collaborates well and is very professional.We all enjoy working with Hugh
Nakita Bolus, TV Producer, FCB

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