If you worry you’re an underachiever, Simon Hayes’ CV might not be a comfortable read. BMX prodigy, jujitsu black belt, Hollywood Oscar winner, thank goodness he only recently discovered road cycling.

Pearson Sound Guy Simon Hayes

Growing up in East Sheen, a stone’s throw from Pearson HQ, Simon Hayes states that he wasn’t particularly academic, his teenage years occupied by hip-hop and sport. At the age of 11, he caught the 80s BMX bug and soon began racing, for a factory team. Just four years​ ​later, in 1985, he won the European BMX Championships, in Barcelona. Hayes, now​ ​51, is what might be termed an overachiever.

At 16, he was a runner for a company making commercials; by the age of 21 he was working​ ​for himself, as a freelance sound mixer, and by his mid-twenties had graduated to feature​ ​films. Today, he is one of the world’s leading Production Sound Mixers, one of the film​ ​business’ go-to men. Fortune favours the busy.​ ​“When I started in the industry,” Hayes explains, “Britain wasn’t making many films. So, I​ ​worked on commercials to pay the rent but took every opportunity to work on shorts​ ​usually for free”.

Pearson Sound Guy Simon Hayes Lock Stock

Its been emotional.

In 1995, Hayes worked on a short film, with the working title The Hard​ ​Case. The director was a certain Guy Ritchie. Two years later, Ritchie had turned that short​ ​into his first feature, with Hayes as his Production Sound Mixer. The project was called Lock,​ ​Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.​ ​“I was incredibly fortunate in the beginning,” Hayes recalls. “Guy’s work helped put British​ ​filmmaking back on the map.” Not to mention Hayes’

As the Nineties rolled into the​ ​Noughties, other notable classics appeared on Hayes’ CV. Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake, for​ ​example, along with Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. “These three films,” Hayes says,​ ​“catapulted me into the big leagues”.​ ​It was while recording Ritchie’s next geezer-fest, Snatch, that some of the crew watched​ ​the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, on a VHS tape. The mixed-martial-​ ​art sport combines boxing and wrestling but also, significantly, a form of​ ​jujitsu developed in Brazil by the Gracie family. Its influences found their way​ ​into both Snatch’s fight scenes and Hayes’ life. After starting training, in 1998, less than a​ ​decade later, in 2007, Hayes and some training partners opened their own dojo, the Carlson​ ​Gracie martial arts school in west London. The following year, Hayes became​ ​only the 13th UK-born Brazilian jujitsu black belt.

Yet this particular hard case has a soft centre. Specifically, that Hayes is one of the leading​ ​sound mixers for musicals. “When I did Mamma Mia,” he says, as if talking about​ ​a plastering job, “we recorded a couple of Meryl Streep’s numbers with her singing​ ​live. Very few thought I could pull it off but it worked.​" As for Tom Hooper’s​ ​Les Misérables, in 2012, he recorded the entire film live and subsequently won an Oscar,​ ​in 2013. “The world needs happy films,” Hayes explains, “and musicals suspend​ ​reality.” Amen to that.
Pearson Simon Hayes Sound Guy Oscar Winner Les Miserables
When the cycling boom rolled across the land during the first lockdown, Hayes found another creative outlet – road cycling.​ ​“Oh my God,” he says of his new passion, “why didn’t I start when I was younger, I feel like​ ​I’m playing catch-up”. Hayes went on his first road ride on 16th April 2020. “Three weeks​ ​later, I rode to Brighton and back [approximately 110 miles]. A week after that, I rode to​ ​Bognor Regis [140 miles].” He also, fortunately, found his way to the Pearson store.“I then started to explore the Surrey Hills,” Hayes explains, “and found that as long as I​ ​stayed hydrated and didn’t get competitive with myself, I could ride for miles. “Film sets are very busy places, so riding solo is incredibly decompressing for my mental health. As you get​ ​older, you appreciate the solitude and pay more attention to nature; it was quite a few​ ​months before I cycled with other people.”​ ​“When I eventually started to post on social media, a group started growing; two of us, then​ ​three”.
no time to die simon hayes
No time to die...

On 20th June 2020, the summer solstice, Hayes rode to Stonehenge and back in a​ ​day, clocking up the 202 miles in 21 hours. He is also in thrall to the sporting longevity​ ​a road riding habit can offer. “Unlike jogging,” he says, “it has no impact on​ ​joints, so you can continue into old age. In Richmond Park [his local ride], I see so many​ ​older people cycling at a good level – I regularly get overtaken by men in their 70’s.
Pearson Simon Hayes Sound Guy Totally wired t-shirt

At Pearson, we’ve been converts to the benefits of road cycling for 160 years. We’re thrilled​ ​to welcome Simon to the fold. So thrilled, in fact, we took the liberty, as Lock Stock’s​ ​Hatchet Harry might say, of asking Simon to combine his Oscar-winning sound expertise​ ​with his newfound love. The result is a unique recording, featuring sounds every rider will​ ​be familiar with. On 25th May, as dawn broke in Richmond Park, Hayes mic​'up both man​ ​and machine, in order to record himself on a lap of the west London cycling mecca.
Pearson Sound Guy Simon Hayes Oscar T-Shirt

Totally wired.

“We used the very highest level of film kit on the lap,” he explains. “One mic on the cassette​ ​to record the gears, another on the headset to capture wind noise and speed, plus a stereo​ ​pair above both my left and right ears to record my breathing.” The result he says, will​ ​show “what level of effort is required from a 51-year-old leisure rider”.

sound guy pearson cycling t shirt

A specially commissioned graphic,​ ​which interprets the recording as a soundscape, is featured on a new Pearson t-shirt named ​Totally Wired. Each line indicates the noise levels of the gearing humming their way around the famous London lap in light blue, shared with altitude in white. The larger gates of the park are highlighted in red, starting at Roehampton, and Simon rode anticlockwise.

Pearson cycling t shirt


cycling t shirt

Buy Totally Wired t-shirt here >


1 comment

Nice article
Holdsworth guy!

Stephen R Jaffe September 02, 2021

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