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The Fervor imprint lay dormant in the late '90s and early '00s; meanwhile, Hilker and his songwriting partner, John Costello, were placing hip-hop in a lot of television shows, because their tracks were sample-free and therefore easy to license. When Freundlich joined the pair in 2002, they realized they already had a catalog of music for film and TV licensing between them, which they named Wild Whirled Music after Hilker and Costello's recording studio.
Says Freundlich, "We had to reactivate the label because we'd get music on a show like One Tree Hill, and literally the next day we'd have 100 e-mails — I don't even know how they found us and they'd say, 'Where can I buy a copy of this song?'"
Fervor was lucky to get in ahead of the curve in 2002, when there weren't a lot of people doing indie local music licensing, and build a lot of solid relationships in the industry.
Four years ago, MTV came to Fervor and asked them to be their eyes and ears in Phoenix, and that's when they signed Super Stereo, which came to rest in the Top Five of MTVu.com for 35 weeks. The band scored right out of the box on NBC's Parks and Recreation, earning a 40-second vocal placement. Super Stereo also has had a lot of non-vocal placements on Keeping Up with The Kardashians. "That show is wall-to-wall music," says Freundlich. "But Kim Kardashian is the star of that show, not Super Stereo."
"We're a boutique and we like that," adds Hilker. "We're not a clearinghouse of music. Since we built our catalog organically, we know what's in it.
"What we really want to do is perpetuate legacies from artists from Arizona," he continues. "We're fortunate to have stuff that Duane Eddy is on, and Wayne Newton. We have the song that got Wayne Newton his deal with Capitol Records when he was 12 years old, which is awesome. The whole Duane Eddy thing started here. Phil Spector shadowed Lee Hazelwood at Audio Recorders in Phoenix. It's an amazing story. And the whole Mill Ave thing, that's a sound that identifies an era, so we pick music that's true to the era."
On Hilker's mixing desk for review are a stack of Doug Hopkins two-track reels and cassettes, pre-Gin Blossoms material that you had to be there to know even exists.
"The 10 O'Clock Scholars, The Psalms . . . Doug has this legacy. A great body of work. And that's a story we would want to tell."
So maybe you'll hear a Psalms song in an HBO series or a movie in wide release. But for someone still alive who's never sold more than a few thousand records, a placement like that could be a real game-changer.
"The first cut I got placed was in the Jack Nicholson film As Good as it Gets," Hilker recalls with fondness. "It changed my life. You can't even hear the song, and nine months later I got a royalty check. And I still do every quarter. [I said] 'I gotta figure out how to keep doing this. This is awesome.'"