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Mike Knobloch: Defined by Tools of the Trade

Without even knowing his job title as Universal Pictures’ president of film music and publishing, it would only take once glance at Mike Knobloch’s office to make a pretty good guess about the type of work he does. With two vintage keyboards (one Rhodes, one Wurlitzer), an electronic drum set, a bass guitar, a ukelele and a good half dozen guitars mounted to the walls, the exec’s office appears to be just a few microphones and a mixing board away from serving as a freestanding recording studio on its own.

Jessica Chou for Variety

‘PERSPECTIVE SHIFT’

Instruments aren’t the only goodies scattered around his Universal City digs: a “Silence” sign taken from the old Newman Scoring Stage adorns his desk, and two large prints of an exploded camera by photographer Todd McLellan sit in his line of sight — the latter a gift from his wife and a daily “reminder that a perspective shift can be a meaningful thing.”

Jessica Chou for Variety

THRILL OF HUNT

A number of these instruments, the two keyboards in particular, have been in Knobloch’s possession for years. “There’s a certain pride of ownership just because I acquired them in the pre-Internet, pre-eBay, pre-Craigslist era when you couldn’t just find these things,” he says. “It used to be much more of a sport to find a good vintage instrument.”

Jessica Chou for Variety

ICE BREAKER

Knobloch acknowledges a susceptibility to “gear acquisition syndrome” but notes having so many instruments is a great way to break the ice during meetings with musicians. For example, he recalls a visit from Steven Tyler, when “the first thing he did when he walked in the room was go over to the Rhodes, and there’s a sort of body language with musicians that says, ‘let’s play.’”

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