Save $100 on a Musio 1 Perpetual License. Throughout April!

Pursuing a Musical Life ft. Jongnic Bontemps

Orchestrated: A Music Podcast
Orchestrated: A Music Podcast
Pursuing a Musical Life ft. Jongnic Bontemps
Loading
/

Pursuing a Musical Life ft. Jongnic Bontemps

On this episode of “Orchestrated” Chris Hayzel and Mike Patti delve into the journey of Jongnic Bontemps, a highly talented composer known for his work on films like "The Land," "United Skates," and "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts." Bontemps' story is not just about music; it's a testament to the power of reinvention, faith, and embracing one's uniqueness in a challenging industry.

Bontemps' transition from a successful career in Silicon Valley to pursuing his passion for film scoring in his mid-thirties is a narrative that challenges conventional wisdom about the timing and nature of pursuing one's dreams. It's a story that breaks down the stereotype of music being a pursuit reserved for the youth, highlighting instead the advantages of maturity, experience, and a well-rounded perspective that Bontemps brought into his new career.

One of the most compelling aspects of Bontemps' journey is his strategic approach to breaking into the Hollywood music scene. He recognized the importance of not just honing his craft but also building relationships and making a name for himself. His efforts to become a "black John Williams" underscore the significance of branding and identity in the music industry. Bontemps' story illustrates the need to embrace one's background and uniqueness, turning potential obstacles into defining strengths.

Moreover, Bontemps' narrative is enriched by his dedication to maintaining a balanced life, prioritizing family and faith amidst the demanding nature of his career. His story is a powerful reminder of the importance of setting boundaries and having non-negotiable touchpoints in life, ensuring that success in one's career does not come at the expense of personal happiness and relationships.

In an industry often characterized by its competitiveness and exclusivity, Bontemps' journey is a beacon of hope and inspiration. It demonstrates that with determination, adaptability, and a clear sense of self, it is possible to carve out a successful career in music, regardless of one's age or the timing of their entry into the field.

As we reflect on Bontemps' story, we are reminded of the broader lessons it holds for anyone contemplating a major career shift or pursuing a long-held dream. It's a narrative that champions the idea that it's never too late to follow one's passion, and that embracing one's unique identity can be a powerful asset in achieving success. Bontemps' journey is not just about music; it's about the enduring power of human creativity.

Key Takeaways

Navigating Hollywood's Landscape with Maturity and Strategy

One of the most compelling aspects of JB's story is his mature approach to building a career in film music. Recognizing the importance of relationships and visibility in Hollywood, he strategically positioned himself to make meaningful connections within the industry. From attending USC to seeking mentorship and embracing opportunities to showcase his work, JB's journey underscores the value of persistence and networking. His experience demonstrates that starting from square one, even later in life, can offer a unique advantage: the wisdom to navigate the industry with a clear vision and purpose.

Embracing Uniqueness in a Competitive Field

A pivotal moment in JB's career came when he decided to embrace his unique identity and background. Initially resistant to being labeled as a composer who specializes in genres reflective of his African American heritage, JB eventually found strength in his uniqueness. By incorporating elements of hip hop, R&B, jazz, and gospel into his scores, he created a distinct sound that resonated with filmmakers and audiences alike. This shift not only led to more opportunities but also allowed him to make a significant impact on the representation of diverse musical styles in film scoring.

The Importance of Balance and Family

Amidst the demands of his career, JB has remained committed to maintaining a balanced life. His story is a powerful reminder of the importance of setting boundaries, prioritizing family, and taking time to recharge. By building a career that aligns with his values and passions, JB exemplifies how one can achieve professional success without sacrificing personal fulfillment.

Conclusion

Jongnic Bontemps' journey from Silicon Valley to Hollywood is more than just a career change; it's a narrative of resilience, faith, and the power of embracing one's identity. Aspiring musicians and creatives from all walks of life can draw inspiration from his story, finding encouragement in the idea that it's never too late to pursue one's dreams. JB's path reminds us that with determination, a clear vision, and a willingness to embrace our unique strengths, we too can orchestrate our own success stories.

Transcript

00:00:04:13 – 00:00:33:07

Chris Hayzel

Welcome to Orchestrated a Musio podcast where we discuss the past, present and future of music creation to explore exactly what it means to be a musician in the modern era. I’m Chris Hazel and this week, Mike, Patti and I are talking to the incredibly talented Jongnic Bontemps, affectionately known as J.B.. Now, you might know JB from his brilliant work on films such as The Land, United Skates, and most recently, the box office hit Transformers Rise of the Beasts.

 

00:00:33:09 – 00:00:52:04

Chris Hayzel

And while he’s got the chops and the resume of a typical big time composer, you might actually be surprised to find out that he didn’t start out pursuing a career in music. In fact, it wasn’t until he was in his mid-thirties with a family and a successful career in Silicon Valley that he even discovered his interest in film music.

 

00:00:52:06 – 00:01:14:16

Chris Hayzel

And it was at that point that he decided to take a leap of faith into an entirely new world, starting from square one. And building from there. Now, this completely goes against the stereotype of music being a young person’s pursuit, and that stereotype isn’t entirely wrong. Hollywood is ripe with ageism and getting into the game later in life definitely set you up for a little bit of an uphill battle.

 

00:01:14:16 – 00:01:41:08

Chris Hayzel

But JB was determined to build something out of his love for music, and so through years of work and dedication, he did just that. So in this conversation, we talk about what it was like for him to start at the bottom with a more mature perspective, how his background, his passion, his family and his faith made it all possible, and how his unique perspective on why we even play music in the first place has shaped his experience in the world of film music.

 

00:01:41:10 – 00:02:03:14

Chris Hayzel

If you like this conversation, be sure to rate and review the episode. It helps the platform know to recommend it and also we just like hearing what you think about what we’re doing here. If you’re a music creator and you’re looking for inspiring new sounds, be sure to head over to Museo dot com. Sign up to get 30 days completely free and explore our catalog of over 1800 industry leading virtual instruments.

 

00:02:03:20 – 00:02:24:06

Chris Hayzel

We promise you won’t be disappointed. A slight disclaimer before we dive into the conversation, you might notice that the audio quality isn’t the best. JB was working with a pair of AirPods and also like a dummy I forgot to select my microphone in the virtual studio that we were recording in. So the audio that you’re hearing from me is actually my computer’s microphone.

 

00:02:24:08 – 00:02:41:15

Chris Hayzel

Again, not the best and definitely something I’m going to triple check in the future. But if you can get past the less than ideal audio, I think you’ll find quite a bit of value in this chat. So without further delay, we hope you enjoy our conversation with Jongnic Bontemps..

 

00:02:41:17 – 00:02:45:22

J.B.

Hey, I am so excited to be with you guys here today. It’s been quite some time. How do you.

 

00:02:45:22 – 00:02:49:10

Chris Hayzel

How do you guys know each other? How did you guys meet?

 

00:02:49:12 – 00:02:51:11

J.B.

do you want to tell the sort of tale, Mike or.

 

00:02:51:12 – 00:03:04:17

Mike Patti

You were you had composer tech, You were doing a lot of it work because that’s your background and I want to hear more about your background, which I know a little of. But you, you started by making pieces for a lot of composers.

 

00:03:04:22 – 00:03:09:15

J.B.

I did. I did. But we met before that.

 

00:03:09:17 – 00:03:10:18

Mike Patti

When was that?

 

00:03:10:19 – 00:03:27:18

J.B.

Yeah, we met when I was at USC and that was 2011 12. And you showed up to our class because you were sort of like the sampling gods, the bastion of success that all of us little students were looking up to.

 

00:03:27:20 – 00:03:32:01

Mike Patti

yeah. And Patrick Hurst, was Patrick Hurst there? Yeah.

 

00:03:32:03 – 00:03:53:04

J.B.

Actually. Teacher And yep, we’re now professor there and that’s where we met you. And then you guys actually both came to our recording session, our capstone session at Warner Brothers. As a matter of fact, you were both. And of course, who of course made all of us super nervous because, you know, we had these legends like among us.

 

00:03:53:10 – 00:04:16:09

J.B.

Yeah. And yeah, that’s when we first met was then and then we Batchelor we both being from Long Island and Hofstra and Hempstead and all that stuff. And then after that that’s when sort of composer tech started after, you know, a few years about a year of being out of school and listless and not getting a job. And then having to hang my own shingle and do some stuff.

 

00:04:16:09 – 00:04:18:02

J.B.

And that’s why we reconnected again.

 

00:04:18:07 – 00:04:45:06

Mike Patti

That’s crazy. Yeah. Gosh, I remember. Yeah, we were. Well, now now you’re doing big. You’re big, dude. Now you’re a big deal. You’re you’re out there doing these huge movies now and I’m and I’m just making samples over here on the campus. And it’s so, I don’t know, mean, it’s just so cool that, like, the day that I found out that you got that the Transformers movie, I was so happy know I saw it on Instagram or somewhere, and I was just like, it couldn’t have happened to a better dude.

 

00:04:45:09 – 00:05:01:02

Mike Patti

So congrats. I mean, you deserve it. You’ve been working on this a long time, but you started off like, like most of us, like, have a story where we started, you know, maybe we saw Star Wars when we were growing up or we saw something and we’re like, I don’t know what this film music thing is, but I want to do that.

 

00:05:01:04 – 00:05:06:13

Mike Patti

But you kind of had a different career path. You grew up in long like you. Well, you were born in Brooklyn, right?

 

00:05:06:15 – 00:05:08:00

J.B.

Yes, correct. Born in Brooklyn.

 

00:05:08:03 – 00:05:09:18

Mike Patti

But then you grew up in Long Island.

 

00:05:09:20 – 00:05:29:20

J.B.

Uniondale actually was Hempstead. I literally I was around the corner, two blocks away from Hofstra as a kid. We used to ride our bikes around the Hofstra campus and wait for campus security to sort of chase us off campus because, of course, you college students that was hanging around there. But I grew up there and, you know, music was always a part of my life.

 

00:05:29:20 – 00:06:06:22

J.B.

My mom wanted to hear instruments in the house, so she was very selfish and made us all take our lessons, which again, was a huge sacrifice because there was no sort of public school system that allowed me to take music lessons as part of your general education. So, Mom, you know, make sure we all had lessons. And for years I, you know, studied piano and guitar and some drums, but it was never, ever, ever going to be a career for me because all of my amazing teachers, they all lived at home with their moms because it was extremely difficult to make a living.

 

00:06:06:22 – 00:06:30:03

J.B.

It still is as a musician. And, you know, they would gig at restaurants over the weekends or at night and then teach students during the day. But yet still with all of that work and they’re in my eyes, amazing skills. They couldn’t really sustain a lifestyle on their own. So I was like, That is not me. I am not going to be the dude living my mom.

 

00:06:30:05 – 00:06:37:08

J.B.

So I music is going to be fun. I’m just going to sort of keep it as a hobby and I am going to move forward and be a lawyer.

 

00:06:37:10 – 00:06:45:14

Chris Hayzel

How did you how did you land on lawyer like, you know, of all of the things like why? Why a lawyer?

 

00:06:45:16 – 00:07:18:09

J.B.

Well, I was really civic minded and I was focused on trying to, especially as a young person, you know, fight the injustices that I saw, whether they were racial injustices or socioeconomic injustices. And I felt that that was the best way for me to make a difference was to go into potentially international law or go into, you know, some sort of civil law that allowed me to, you know, help people in need that suffered some sort of injustice.

 

00:07:18:11 – 00:07:40:03

J.B.

So that’s why I was focused on that. And music was just going to be a hobby. And really that idea propelled me not only through high school where I went to a private school on Long Island, and that’s where I did a lot more music education there because it was they actually had a music program. So I sang in the choir and I played in the jazz band and play in the rock band and all these things.

 

00:07:40:03 – 00:08:12:23

J.B.

We even did an album for our senior project and we actually recorded an album. I was working at Sam Ashe Music and Long Island. Remember that one there? Mike Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I was surrounded by music all growing up, but it was never supposed to be a career. Actually, I went to college and after putting in around for a couple of years, different majors, I finally landed on music because I felt that it didn’t really matter what I majored in as long as I did really well, I could get into any law school I wanted to.

 

00:08:13:01 – 00:08:36:00

J.B.

Well, so I majored in music and, you know, it was more of a general music education. I had no sort of direction or reason why I was doing it. I just enjoyed it. Then I took my LSAT and I realized I wasn’t going to law school here. So that was a big shift at that point. And I said, Well, let me try and get into the music industry.

 

00:08:36:02 – 00:09:03:18

J.B.

So I focused my senior thesis on doing sort of music marketing and music industry because you know, where I went to school that had no sort of business program or anything like that, anything that you could actually like get a job with. So I had to create my own sort of independent study in music business. I interned at Sony Music and I would go down there 2 to 3 times a week from New Haven, take the train, go down to New York City, 550 Madison Avenue.

 

00:09:03:20 – 00:09:23:23

J.B.

And I worked in Epic black and I sort of learned the ropes on marketing and street marketing and, you know, a little bit A&R and all that stuff was go, okay, I’m going to be a music executive, get out of college. I end up getting a job right as someone’s assistant. But apparently the person who hired me left before I started.

 

00:09:24:03 – 00:09:47:22

J.B.

So I got somewhat assigned to someone new and she hated me. She said I couldn’t take messages correctly. I couldn’t get her coffee right. There was nothing that I could do to appease this person. So. So eventually she got rid of me. So I answered an ad in the paper and it was computer programmer wanted no experience necessary.

 

00:09:48:00 – 00:10:13:13

J.B.

And I was like, I like computers. I have no experience speaking to me. I go to the interview and the guy starting his own consulting company. I spend four days and training with him and then I go out to the client as an expert. And of course I was no expert, but needless to say, I would take my work home every night because back in the day I could take the work home on a 3.5 inch floppy.

 

00:10:13:13 – 00:10:39:13

J.B.

And I’m dating myself right now, and I’d go back and do the work, you know, with him. And at the end of the 3 to 4 months, I was basically his number one consultant. And I had really taken to this idea of computer programing. I learned SQL databases and Visual Basic that I did that and I was training all of the consultants and I was basically the number one consultant at this big client doing a strategic sourcing initiative.

 

00:10:39:15 – 00:11:09:00

J.B.

So, you know, about a year later, I’m like feeling myself and like, okay, I’m doing well in life. I asked him for a raise. He says no. And then I took my new skills and parlayed to another job a company called End to K, which was unofficially owned and two K, they had several sites called Music Boulevard, Rock, Trop, Jazz, Central Station, Classical Insights, and they were a music online retailer before Amazon even sold music.

 

00:11:09:01 – 00:11:15:02

J.B.

So Amazon had just come out to do books. Music Boulevard was selling CDs online.

 

00:11:15:03 – 00:11:16:06

Mike Patti

Wow. What year was this?

 

00:11:16:06 – 00:11:39:19

J.B.

This was basically 96, 97, 97, 98. Okay. Eventually we were bought by a company called CD Now and then eventually the seed out was bought by Amazon. So we all got sort of acquired at that, but that had lost an entire career of doing software development. And I did software development for 15 years and in Silicon Valley where I built websites and applications because this is, you know, the dawn of e commerce.

 

00:11:39:19 – 00:12:04:20

J.B.

So they were just looking for warm bodies to like, get in there and start building websites. And I picked up Java on top of the language that I learned. I learned basically how to run software teams. And by the time I looked back after putting together some pretty massive websites and pretty massive e-commerce sites, 15 years later was in Silicon Valley at a major startup that basically was bought by HP.

 

00:12:04:22 – 00:12:25:07

J.B.

Okay? And I was like, Wow, I’ve done great. I’ve had a wonderful life. My family is happy. We have a great house in Monterey, California, driving fancy cars. I have tons of runway. I was being groomed to be the black Bill Gates, you know, So like everything was perfect, except I wasn’t happy.

 

00:12:25:09 – 00:12:26:01

Chris Hayzel

Right?

 

00:12:26:03 – 00:12:44:12

J.B.

I didn’t feel fulfilled. And when I thought about software, I was like, you know what? This is not the thing that I want to dedicate my life to because I saw people who were really into software and they would spend all day long thinking about software, weekends, reading books on software, all that stuff. And that wasn’t me, you know, it was a job.

 

00:12:44:14 – 00:13:04:02

J.B.

And I had this desire to be sort of like, great at something. So one night, you know, I’m just sort of like laying around and these words form in my mind and, you know, I’m a Seventh Day Adventist, so I, you know, I’m religious. And these words for in my mind, if you trust me, trust me with the vision of your life.

 

00:13:04:04 – 00:13:24:21

J.B.

And this was God speaking to me and I’m like, God, my life’s pretty good. You know, I have runway, meaning I’ve got like a career path. I wonderful house on top of the hill, looking down on all the white people. This is great, right? I have arrived. So this is like, you know, a great life. Why, Lord is there more?

 

00:13:24:23 – 00:13:43:22

J.B.

Is like, No, there is more. And you have to trust me and give this up after. So of course it starts everything in the mind, right? So I eventually start giving up this road map that I was on, this path that I was on. I started giving it up. And the same piano that my mom had bought me when I was six years old.

 

00:13:43:22 – 00:14:00:17

J.B.

I told her that all over the country with me and I hadn’t really touched it, you know, since college. And I started playing it again and I thought, I can actually mediocre. We play the piano again. Then I started playing in church. I’m actually enjoying this. Then I discovered this thing called Garage Band on my laptop.

 

00:14:00:22 – 00:14:17:21

J.B.

I think, we play around with this. And I actually remembered, like, write some music. I’ll know a couple of chords here and there, probably a little melody. Wow. I did something. I sent it to a friend of mine and she said, That sounds like film music. I said, Wait a minute, there’s music and film. There’s music and video games.

 

00:14:18:02 – 00:14:39:15

J.B.

And I was an avid video Video game player, you know, obviously consume tons of movies. And I never realized this was actually a career or possibility. When it dawned on me, I was like, Wow, I think I want to do that I think is something that I could dedicate my life to. And that then started the transition of, well, if this is what I want to do, how is this going to happen?

 

00:14:39:15 – 00:14:59:20

J.B.

And this was around 2000, I would say maybe 829, and that started the journey to get where I am. And it really was about giving up this vision of what I thought my life was supposed to be back then and with a clean slate and going on this journey just trusting that God had a plan.

 

00:14:59:22 – 00:15:05:17

Chris Hayzel

It’s a pretty big leap of faith, man. How old were you at the time that you made this decision?

 

00:15:05:23 – 00:15:31:22

J.B.

That’s a great question. I was around 34 years old. I was 34, 35. I was married to my childhood sweetheart who I met when I was 11 years old and we had been married. I guess, for about ten years at that point or eight years, maybe 8 to 10 years. And we had two kids, you know, they were basically four, four and eight or thereabouts in that sort of age range.

 

00:15:32:00 – 00:15:55:12

J.B.

So you are absolutely right. It was a huge leap of faith. Now, here’s the thing. There was these things sort of came in little bits. It wasn’t as if this thing for I’m just going to quit my job, leave everything, go to L.A. and do this thing right. That wasn’t the leap at that point in time. It was very sort of sneaky and sly, this little things, right?

 

00:15:55:12 – 00:16:17:13

J.B.

Again, playing the piano, playing in church, playing with garage band. I was going to take some classes online and work school music online just to see if I really like this. And I started doing that. So it was really these tiny kind of steps that kept leading me toward this thing. And then every step I took, I found that actually I’m really enjoying this more and more and more, and it was taking up all of my free time.

 

00:16:17:14 – 00:16:40:12

J.B.

No, I still had a full time job during this period of my life, and I was still working, you know, in Silicon Valley, still doing my thing. But every night and weekend I was grinding, trying to figure out this whole music thing just because I loved it so much and I had a passion for it. Now, I didn’t think I had a talent for it because again, it was going to be like, You’re going to see where this goes.

 

00:16:40:14 – 00:17:15:11

J.B.

And, you know, eventually my journey took me to the school called Peer of Mind in San Francisco, where I became an intern, and there were sort of a music school, music community and production house. And I just started interning there and I was talking with one of the guys who taught there is who goes by S.F. Logic Ninja, and he was sort of like the logic, you know, slash producer in the studio and he was working on an early video, a video game.

 

00:17:15:12 – 00:17:30:08

J.B.

I think it was a Spider-Man video and one of the earlier ones. And I was like, Hey, man, I, you know, took some orchestration classes at Berkeley about my life. I want you to start orchestrating for me. Then I thought I just started doing that, you know, in my free time. Then I was, you know, interning at events.

 

00:17:30:10 – 00:17:47:09

J.B.

And I met the one event that I was basically, you know, cleaning up, doing the intern stuff, you know, setting up chairs. They actually taking the garbage out or whatever. And mind you, you know, I was doing all this while I was making a six figure income in Silicon Valley that, you know, I didn’t tell anybody about, but I had to start over.

 

00:17:47:11 – 00:18:02:21

J.B.

So I’m talking with one guy and I’m talking about my love of video games and how I’m thinking about trying to make this transition into, you know, scoring. And the guy was like, would you come down and talk to me, you know, in a couple of weeks? I said, Well, who are you? Is it I’m Clint in.

 

00:18:02:21 – 00:18:27:05

J.B.

He was the head of music for Sony Games, and he took me under his wing and he said, Look, if you really want to make this transition, no one’s going to hire you as a Silicon Valley executive. You have to erase the slate and go to USC because we’ve hired most of our composers out of that USC program.

 

00:18:27:10 – 00:18:44:22

J.B.

And they had just finished that game Infamous with Jim Dooley, which I played and I loved the music for and all that stuff, and we talked a lot about that. I said, So you got to go do that. How am I going to get into the number one film scoring in the world? You know, I graduated college 15 years ago, and even then I wasn’t really like a composition major.

 

00:18:45:00 – 00:19:01:05

J.B.

Yeah, I did my Berkeley stuff, but whatever, you know, that’s not going to get me into the school. But one of the things that I learned in business is that you can never be a name on a piece of paper. People have to know who you are. And in the software world, I never really applied for a job.

 

00:19:01:06 – 00:19:22:02

J.B.

People just knew who I was and they offered me things, Hey, I’m going to do this thing. Would you come with me? And we create a position for you? So I said, You know, this is going to be the same thing. They’re going to have to know who I am so that this way they could see me as a person and hopefully fall in love with me as a person and overlook sort of the mediocre music that I’m putting in my application.

 

00:19:22:04 – 00:19:24:09

J.B.

That’s a huge okay, actually, that’s a.

 

00:19:24:09 – 00:19:40:21

Mike Patti

Huge point because so much of how this works now is people think they, you know, they create a social media profile or a website and think that that’s going to get you work. But in a day, it seems like it’s just the old fashion who, you know, in relationships and being recommended.

 

00:19:41:00 – 00:20:00:11

J.B.

I want to tweak that just a little bit in that it’s not about who you know, but who knows you to write because, okay, when even though you’re not in the rooms, if people know who you are, they’re going to talk about you. Yeah. And then people are going to give you a chance to sort of like know who you are.

 

00:20:00:12 – 00:20:21:04

J.B.

Right. Just because of the fact that you had a presence. Are people know people sort of like who you are and no one recommends anybody that’s going to make them look bad. Right. So you really have to make sure that you’ve delivered, you’ve done something that people that is going to make someone look great by recommending you.

 

00:20:21:09 – 00:20:39:21

Chris Hayzel

How do you get your foot in the door so that people know you and that they talk about you? Like, where do you start with that? You know, when you were when you were figuring this out and you were making this transition in your life, how did you get your name in people’s heads as a person to talk about?

 

00:20:39:23 – 00:21:13:23

J.B.

I’ll use the USC as an example. I just started to visit. I went down to the USC campus and I visited with the then director, Brian King, and we sat down and just had a meeting. I told him up my passion and what I wanted to do. He thought I was crazy and one of things he said to me was, Look, you seem like a really nice guy, but I’ve seen people in your position before where you’re all excited about doing it and you have no idea the kind of heartache or hardship you’re going to go through with this career change.

 

00:21:14:01 – 00:21:32:17

J.B.

I said, You know, I really want to do this. So he said, Tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m going to give you the assignment that we just gave our students from our workshop. Teddy SHAPIRO had just come in and done sort of like the two part workshop with the students where he gives them the cue and then they write it and they come back and they review it with Teddy.

 

00:21:32:19 – 00:21:57:06

J.B.

It was a scene from The Devil Wears Prada, that iconic sequence where, you know, Meryl Streep’s character is coming into the building. Everybody’s going crazy because, you know, she has arrived and they’re not ready. So, you know, at this point, I look at the scene like, my gosh, how am I going to do this? And I sit down with my newly sort of found Berkeley, you know, online music skills and scored the scene.

 

00:21:57:08 – 00:22:13:08

J.B.

And then I send it back to him, but then I follow up say, Hey, I might send this to you, but I’d love to come back down for a meeting to review it with you. And he said, Great. So when I went back down, he said, You know what? I didn’t expect to see you again. He said, I’ve done this before with other people and I never hear from them again.

 

00:22:13:10 – 00:22:34:18

J.B.

But you actually came back and you also set up a meeting, right, to talk about it, Right. I like what I’m saying. The second step I did was it’s like, you know what? I need to find a professor here that is going to take me on as a private student because I had a couple of things from Berkeley, but I really needed to build out my portfolio for my application.

 

00:22:34:19 – 00:23:04:04

J.B.

So I found the late Jack Smalley, who was teaching composition at the time, and I coerced him to take me on as a private student, and I would fly down from Northern California to L.A. twice a month and take lessons with him. And after about five months of doing that, I had some stuff that didn’t suck. Of course, the entire time, I’m letting you know Brian King know that I’m doing this.

 

00:23:04:04 – 00:23:28:16

J.B.

I’m attending sessions and visiting as they’re going to Warner Brothers and doing their string recording sessions. I’m basically showing up. And this was another lesson that I learned, which goes back to your original question. It’s all about impressions and advertising. You have to not only have almost every interaction with someone be quality, right? But there has to be a certain number of quantity.

 

00:23:28:18 – 00:23:54:07

J.B.

People have to be able to see you multiple times before they actually remember you or you make an impression on folks. I think it’s five, six, maybe even ten times. People have to see you now. I did have a secret weapon at the time I was black. Well, I still am black, right? And back in 2000, you know, 1112, there weren’t that many African-American people, you know, in these circles.

 

00:23:54:08 – 00:24:13:16

J.B.

So I was like the black guy in the room. So people would sort of recognize me because there weren’t a lot of me there. It was easy to make an impression because of the way I looked, Right? Yeah. And I was just sort of like the guy that filtered around in rooms. So it was the two things quality, right interactions, but also multiple interactions.

 

00:24:13:18 – 00:24:37:09

Chris Hayzel

At the start of a new career. You’re building these relationships, you’re building this portfolio, you’re building this reputation, you’re burning the candle at both ends, right? You’re you you were still holding your six figure job in Silicon Valley while also pursuing this this mission that it seems like you are on to transition into music. And that’s all you know, it’s fairly normal.

 

00:24:37:09 – 00:25:07:16

Chris Hayzel

I when I first started out to like I was working a day job and then going home at night and working on projects. But I was 22 with no kids, no family. At this point in your life, in your mid-thirties, you’ve got a wife, you got kids. Like what was that like trying to balance, you know, working a job, pursuing this career in music, flying down to L.A. twice a month, you know?

 

00:25:07:17 – 00:25:11:12

Chris Hayzel

But what was that experience like for you, balancing all that?

 

00:25:11:13 – 00:25:34:02

J.B.

Yeah, there’s a joke in the Jamaican community and I’m half Jamaican that, you know, you don’t really work unless you have to be job man. You know that Jamaicans work really hard. And I felt that I was in my element doing all of these things. And I was always conditioned specially from software, to put in like long hours, especially when I was in the Silicon Valley area.

 

00:25:34:02 – 00:25:52:05

J.B.

You know, we get to work at like 9:00 in the morning, we would leave at nine, 10:00 at night, and that was just the culture. So I was used to these very sort of long days. So what I did, obviously, is I just truncated what I was doing for, you know, the company I was working for at the time and kept sort of normal hours for that.

 

00:25:52:07 – 00:26:12:02

J.B.

I would actually take the train up and down. It was about an hour and a half train ride and I would actually come home work then or I would study, you know, on the train. So I stopped driving so that this way I could actually more time. And then at night, you know, I would actually work, have dinner with my family, put the kids to bed and then go back and do more work.

 

00:26:12:04 – 00:26:37:19

J.B.

So in no way, shape or form, during this entire time when my kids called me like an absentee dad or not being around, because I always made sure that they felt my presence. I was there. I was events for them actively part of their life. At the same time, you know, I realized that there’s a lot of hours in the day and that I could really focus and use up a lot of that dead time for this pursuit.

 

00:26:37:19 – 00:26:59:20

J.B.

And I was happy to do it. I was looking forward to doing it. You know, I was looking forward to doing my Berkeley homework on my private study stuff with Jack Smalley. So it was like a joy for me. All right, kids, get to bed so I can go do my music homework right? And that’s how I knew this is something that I really had to do.

 

00:26:59:21 – 00:27:03:02

J.B.

Yeah. That this was what I was meant to do because I enjoyed it so much.

 

00:27:03:05 – 00:27:24:17

Chris Hayzel

Well, even even as you were telling your story of of the before you even got to the decision to, to, to make your way into music, it seems like the securities route that you took, like every turn that you took, music was always sort of present like there was. It was always part of your life and something that brought joy.

 

00:27:24:18 – 00:27:44:10

Chris Hayzel

So it’s it’s no wonder to me that you would sort of end at the conclusion that you did, but I’ll be honest with you, man, what you’re talking about. I have a two year old now, a first child, only child, and I work a job. And what you’re saying sounds exhausting. Like.

 

00:27:44:12 – 00:28:02:23

Mike Patti

That’s what I want to ask, is like, there must have been points where it was really challenging. Just balancing all of this, because, I mean, we we all have these experiences where you feel like you take on too much and then you end up like, for me it was being a composer, running synth samples and then also trying to be a dad and husband.

 

00:28:02:23 – 00:28:23:08

Mike Patti

It’s like those three things and it’s like, I just I was at a point a few years ago where I just felt like I was just sucking at all three and it was like, What am I even doing? I might as well not do anything. So it’s like you have to make sometimes you just have to make those choices as to, well, what are you going to let go of so that you can be excellent or at least somewhat decent at, at these other things.

 

00:28:23:08 – 00:28:42:13

Mike Patti

And for me, it was I personally I hit the pause button on composing, which is all sad, but I want to get back to it. It’s just the pause button. So like, have you ever I say that because I wonder, like, because hearing you, maybe it’s just your Jamaican background and I don’t have any Jamaican background, but like, what is it that like?

 

00:28:42:15 – 00:28:47:17

Mike Patti

How are you able to handle all of it and still, you know, be, be good at what you do.

 

00:28:47:18 – 00:29:10:09

J.B.

That’s great question. So there’s a couple things that are kind of built into my life that I think allowed me to, to do this. One is I had a tremendous desire to be present in my kid’s life, you know, not to go into sort of like the how I grew up and this and that. But, you know, for much of my life, my dad was not as present as I wanted him to be.

 

00:29:10:11 – 00:29:34:10

J.B.

And that left sort of like a huge hole in my heart. And I was not going to do the same thing with my boys. So I always made sure that I was at every game, you know, every sort of concert. I was always there, take them to school in the morning. So I kind of built in, you know, time with my boys daily by doing these small commitments.

 

00:29:34:12 – 00:29:57:22

J.B.

The other thing is I’m a Seventh Day Adventist, which also means that I believe in the Jewish Sabbath. So Friday night to Saturday evening to evening, Friday evening to Saturday evening, that was my Sabbath didn’t do any work. It was time to focus and be with family and go to church or, you know, study the Bible or do community service just to disconnect and sort of be a person.

 

00:29:57:22 – 00:30:20:12

J.B.

Right. Because sometimes we forget that we are people. Yeah. And that we can need to help people have these relationships. So that was sacrosanct right from where where I was raised. So that built in that buffer. And then the other thing too, is I remember early on before I came to USC, I wrote to Brian King and I was like, Hey, this guy named Alan Sylvester, have you heard of him?

 

00:30:20:14 – 00:30:42:13

J.B.

He lives in Monterey. Would you mind making an introduction to me? So so I can visit him before I, you know, come down to USC? And he did. And I Alan was amazing. He invited me and my entire family to his house, I should say more his estate in Monterey. And we spent the entire day with him. His wife cooked for us.

 

00:30:42:13 – 00:31:04:07

J.B.

We talked music. He just encouraged me. And he told me a couple of things that I remember about family because, you know, right, wrong or indifferent, you know, a lot of the people that we sort of look up to, they didn’t have the best family lives, Right. Things that happened. And, you know, they just weren’t in the best situation as far as their family is concerned.

 

00:31:04:07 – 00:31:20:16

J.B.

And I was like, you know what? That’s not who I want to be. I want to make sure my family survives. And here’s this guy, Alan. These kids come in. They love him and they know who he is. His wife is loving him. I can just love as a dude. What did you do? And as I built in time daily to be with my family.

 

00:31:20:18 – 00:31:39:04

J.B.

Yeah, I built in time to take my kids to school every morning with my wife. And then we have a coffee, you know, before I go into the day and I do my stuff. Then we have dinner together, right? Sacrosanct. And then I just go back and work if I need to or whatever. But these are these are the pillars that are sort of immovable in my life.

 

00:31:39:06 – 00:31:59:05

J.B.

Right. And I think, wow, that’s amazing. Now, also, you know, like, my wife is amazing. And, you know, because we were up north, I was doing this, she had a job and she’s a teacher. But, you know, there are parts in her life because we were doing okay that she wasn’t working. And when we first moved to L.A. to pursue this thing at USC, she wasn’t working.

 

00:31:59:05 – 00:32:19:10

J.B.

So she was actually able to handle a lot of like the child managed it right during those first years when I was actually at school. So, you know, kudos to her that she really sort of went on this journey with me and supported me and to make sure that our family was not lacking in any way, shape or form.

 

00:32:19:12 – 00:32:25:15

J.B.

And, you know, I owe her big. So she wants to retire early. So I’m working on that.

 

00:32:25:17 – 00:32:27:00

Chris Hayzel

You better deliver.

 

00:32:27:02 – 00:32:27:23

J.B.

This.

 

00:32:28:00 – 00:32:53:13

Chris Hayzel

That’s amazing, man. I mean, I think that’s a good point is like having these sort of non-negotiable touch points with your life, because I think it can get really easy to to throw yourself into something and just be all consumed with that and have these having these non-negotiable touchpoints with your life of, like, you know, spending time with your kids, spending time with your family, taking time away from, you know, this thing that you’ve thrown yourself into.

 

00:32:53:13 – 00:33:02:23

Chris Hayzel

I think that’s that’s really, really wise. And then also just having the supportive of your wife, too, is probably hugely, hugely beneficial.

 

00:33:02:23 – 00:33:21:07

J.B.

To having a partner like that is instrumental in making this journey, especially and having the commitment to our family. You know, both of us is instrumental because, you know, we were not trying to lose each other in this in this process.

 

00:33:21:09 – 00:33:49:06

Mike Patti

Very inspirational and it’s really cool. Yeah, no, I really like it because, you know, there’s a lot of people that, that I think that early on you get so driven in this business you know especially those that first decade. You know when you’re in your twenties and early thirties it really becomes all about achieving that goal or that success or getting that movie or, you know, making that certain amount of money per year, which isn’t a bad thing to have that drive.

 

00:33:49:06 – 00:34:08:12

Mike Patti

But having priorities set is so important because the thing is, I think a lot of people, when they choose to set those priorities, sometimes they maybe they won’t have the kind of success they think they’ll have, but ultimately, like what is life all about? And I don’t I don’t think it’s about getting your name on a million movie posters.

 

00:34:08:14 – 00:34:10:18

Mike Patti

I think life is deeper and more important than that.

 

00:34:10:20 – 00:34:38:09

J.B.

I agree with you and all those things. Mike, When you get started, you put these milestones in your career. You know, I need to do this. I need to do that. I need to be in these rooms or get these movies or make this kind of money. Agreed. Right. And those are not bad things to have because, you know, they drive us and they make sure we get up in the morning and hopefully do our stuff, the results to do or encourage us after day of writing to go to that mixer and meet some people because, you know, it’s something you’re invited to and it’s important to make those connections.

 

00:34:38:12 – 00:35:18:11

J.B.

But you know, now that I’m like, I guess 11, 12 years into this thing and again, that was a very Securitas journey, I’ve realized the goal should really be at least for me and take it would be to have a musical life as long as I’m doing music in whatever format. Right? I’m happy. And I try now to not be this lot of double negatives there, but I try to have a very sort of wide view as to what it means to have a musical life and not be so myopic saying, I need to be a film composer.

 

00:35:18:13 – 00:35:45:18

J.B.

No, I just want to make music and whatever form that comes in, whatever sort of position or support that comes in, I’m happy couple that with do I have what I need today? Because so much when we think about tomorrow or next week or next month, am I going to make that’s all can be very scary and it can sort of keep us from enjoying what’s happening today.

 

00:35:45:20 – 00:36:08:11

J.B.

So I think about do I have what I need today? Because why am I going to let tomorrow’s worries robbed me from today’s blessings? So those two things in concert trying to have a very broad view and not try to control where this journey takes me and just being encouraged that I’ve had more two days that have worked out right than not.

 

00:36:08:13 – 00:36:29:11

J.B.

That’s what allows me to keep on going. And, you know, in this past year we had a strike, as you know, and there wasn’t a lot of work for us. So this was in practice. I ended up working with an artist named Tobe Wigwe, and I did a fashion show with him in Milan, Italy, for Pharrell’s Montclair Line.

 

00:36:29:14 – 00:36:53:17

J.B.

Right then I ended up arranging and producing the music for a ballet in Houston with his group called the Black Angels. As you know, I taught to did a composer in residency at the College of Columbia, Chicago, right. And did that. So there are all these other things that sort of came in, right, that allow me to still experience music in a different way.

 

00:36:53:23 – 00:37:06:17

J.B.

And I was super happy. My folks are not working on a film, not old. I’d be miserable and I would have missed the blessings of these things. And these things also allow me. I could be a better composer because I knew experiences.

 

00:37:06:19 – 00:37:37:17

Chris Hayzel

I can. I can relate to that on on so many levels. I think it’s really easy, especially when you’re younger or when you’re first sort of getting into pursuing music as a career to to be really narrow on your view of of what success looks like. And I was certainly that way. I grew up in a situation where both both of my parents had successful music careers and I have been playing music since I was five.

 

00:37:37:17 – 00:38:00:06

Chris Hayzel

It’s the only thing that I have ever loved to do, and I had a very narrow view of what a successful music career looked like, you know, to be like an artist who has albums that people listen to all over the world. I mean, the chances of that happening, regardless of whatever your connections are, are quite slim. But that was what I was focused on.

 

00:38:00:07 – 00:38:24:00

Chris Hayzel

And at a certain point I had to kind of take those blinders off and widen my view all of these other opportunities presented themselves, you know what I mean? And it was like, I can do music and I can continue to enjoy that my life without having to get down on myself for it not being exactly what it was that I pictured it would be.

 

00:38:24:00 – 00:38:39:12

Chris Hayzel

And it can take you in all of these different routes coming, coming to music and deciding to do this thing sort of later in life than most people work. Do you think that that was a benefit to you in your ability to pursue it in the way that you did?

 

00:38:39:15 – 00:39:03:21

J.B.

Yeah, You know, there are two things that definitely allowed me to sort of make this huge leap. One was I really do believe that this was the path that, you know, God put me on. And again, it goes back to that original inspiration and which was trusting you with the vision of your life, right? So I knew there had to be something good in store for me if I took this leap of faith.

 

00:39:03:23 – 00:39:27:01

J.B.

And the second thing was ignorance. I had no idea how hard this was going to be. Yeah, you know, I had no idea that how treacherous, you know, this industry, how many people are trying to do this every single year that come from all the schools coming to L.A.? I had no clue. Right. You just see the success stories.

 

00:39:27:03 – 00:39:45:18

J.B.

And again, not having been in music for so long, like an institution in music or the industry of music for so long, I had no clue. All I had was this hubris. I had done it in software, I showed up in software. I didn’t learn anything. And here I was, you know, doing well. I can do it again.

 

00:39:45:20 – 00:40:07:17

J.B.

So it was ignorance mixed with hubris, but also mixed with faith, right? Yeah. That allowed me to sort of go down this path, actually. So funny. I’m going to tell another story. So before I started USC, because, you know, I’d gotten to this point and met Alan, I had the sort of ideas of what I wanted to do, and I went to a Yale and Hollywood event.

 

00:40:07:19 – 00:40:32:12

J.B.

They had a producer, they had a casting director. I think there was maybe a director there and a composer. Chris Beck Right. I think he had just done it wasn’t a man of some sort of summer blockbuster he’d worked on, and they were having a panel about it. And at the end of the panel, everybody swarms the casting director and the director and the producer, and nobody wants to talk to Chris.

 

00:40:32:13 – 00:40:54:16

J.B.

So one thing I learned is composers don’t go to like non-compulsory events, right? They don’t focus on the music. And that’s the best time to actually meet people because everybody else is after the director, they’re going to get cast away or no one wants talk to the composer. Nobody does. So I got a chance to roll up to Chris Beck.

 

00:40:54:18 – 00:41:16:07

J.B.

And again, the other role we talked about was like impressions, but also a quality impressions. I got to make a quality impression on this guy. I said, Chris, my name is Mike Bontemps. People call me JB like you. I did my undergrad at Yale. You know, like you, I’m going to go to USC and study film scoring. So in general, I just want to be a black little.

 

00:41:16:07 – 00:41:39:21

J.B.

You told me the way right? So he laughed, you know, he laughed and we started chatting. And toward the end of the conversation, he said, he said, J.B., I just met you. I have no idea why I want to say these things to you, but for some reason I like you and I want to impart some advice. I said, Please do.

 

00:41:39:23 – 00:41:58:17

J.B.

He said, My experience of Hollywood is that you’re going to run into two obstacles trying to get into Hollywood, he said. One, Hollywood is a young town, and you’re coming in as a second career, right? You’re a little older and this or that. And, you know, people might not want to work with you because you’re older, he says.

 

00:41:58:17 – 00:42:35:04

J.B.

But you have a youthful demeanor and a great energy. So just don’t advertise your age, right? In my mind, that translated to black Don’t crack aged kids. Yeah, right. So that was great. And then the next thing he said to me, he says, Well, this thing, you can’t hide the fact that you are black and that when people look at you and get this is, you know, back in 2010, 2000, 11, 12, 2011, he says when people look at you, they’re not going to hear the music that they might want for their film because there aren’t many people that look like you actually doing this.

 

00:42:35:06 – 00:43:00:11

J.B.

So you might find it difficult to make the right connections with producers or directors or studios to support the kind of career aspirations that you want as a gang. That is something because you’re right. I mean, there really weren’t many African-American composers that had done like Hollywood movies. I mean, we had Terence Blanchard, but, you know, that was in the jazz realm back in the day.

 

00:43:00:11 – 00:43:23:14

J.B.

We had Quincy Jones right then we had Stanley Clarke. Right. But he was working more sort of in that Snakes on a Plane slash Wesley Snipes kind of action movies. Right. Which again, there were sort of genres, but there was nothing no one was working on like big stuff, right? What I consider big stuff. And I was a little deflated.

 

00:43:23:16 – 00:43:42:18

J.B.

So, you know, when I went into USC, I was like, you know what? Even though I grew up listening to jazz and hip hop and R&B and this kind of music that I was kind of producing, I had to throw myself into making, you know, music that would people think would go in a Hollywood movie. So I just focused on that, right?

 

00:43:42:18 – 00:43:59:22

J.B.

And I put aside anything that was sort of culturally specific. I mean, even so, my capstone project, I did a scene from Lord of the Rings, right? I mean, you can’t get any more white than that. I mean, there’s not a single black person in Lord of the Rings movies who just. he goes with orcs. No, we’re not the Orcs.

 

00:43:59:22 – 00:44:23:19

J.B.

Give me a break. Right. So, I mean, it was like I really threw myself into, you know, trying to be as Hollywood as possible. And, you know, when I got out of school, I was getting asked to work on all the black projects, right? Yeah. Because obviously I have a certain perspective that allowed me to understand the story they were trying to tell.

 

00:44:23:21 – 00:44:49:21

J.B.

And, you know, they were great projects, but I wasn’t being asked to work on anything outside of those projects and I was very frustrated with that. And one of my first tech clients was a guy named Terry Schapiro. Isn’t it funny how full circle the thing that sort of got me notice at USC was we’re kind of catty Schapiro crew of Q and then my first sort of tech job after USC was Teddy Schapiro.

 

00:44:49:23 – 00:45:14:21

J.B.

I worked for Teddy, and I put together his his rig, which, by the way, Teddy’s a wonderful person because I was my first sort of big tech rig and I screwed it up. It was horrible. He was really disappointed because that’s what they like, the tech guy and nothing was really working. And but I sat there every day for a few weeks and worked on it and worked on it and make sure that by the time we were done, he was super happy.

 

00:45:15:00 – 00:45:44:02

J.B.

And I remember that from again software. It’s like you have to continue to work and iterate on things to make sure the client feels like you are there with them in the trenches and to make sure that they’re happy, right? So anyway, by the time he was happy and then we became best friends slash mentor, and he invited me to work in a studio one day you know, I was there and as frustrated as okay said, you know, I want to be known as the black composer in town because that’s going to sort of stymie my career.

 

00:45:44:04 – 00:46:05:23

J.B.

And I really want to work on, quote unquote, bigger things. And he looked at me, he was amused, and he said, well, you know, what do you want to be labeled as? You want to be labeled as like the many Hans Zimmer Do you want to be labeled as the mini? John Williams Well, guess what? There are tons of those guys and there’ll be more John Williams Or more Hans Zimmer than you ever will be.

 

00:46:06:03 – 00:46:30:18

J.B.

Right? So why are you trying to chase that if this is what’s coming to you? Work on that right? Captured that sound. You know this music. You love this music. Make it yours, right? Yeah. And embrace it. Embrace that. And then Hollywood label you. And then at some point in your career, you will be able to pivot. I’m like, Okay, fine.

 

00:46:30:22 – 00:46:57:17

J.B.

Of course I grumble, Grumble grumbled. But then, you know, the wisdom of that hit me and I embraced it. And you know what? As soon as I embrace that, I say, you know what? I’m going to be the guy that can use hip hop, R&B, jazz, gospel and make it appropriate for underscore, right. Not just like a loop that people throw in there, but how can I actually use these tones, these rhythms, these sounds and really sort of make it authentic, but also tell a story?

 

00:46:57:19 – 00:47:22:18

J.B.

I got United States, which was a black roller skating documentary that won Tribeca, got put on HBO and then started having my name mentioned in rooms because the music was so integral to the story. It’s about black roller skating culture, people roller skate to music, so lots of music that I ended up writing for it. And we had a great time putting this together.

 

00:47:22:22 – 00:47:48:18

J.B.

They started talking about me and again so people who knew me started proliferating my name out into the world. So much so that when the TV Academy was introducing their new doc score category at a small concert and they asked me to arrange and conduct and perform some cues from United States, the picture at a concert at the TV Academy was like, What craziness?

 

00:47:48:20 – 00:48:11:05

J.B.

And then from that there were a bunch of people, directors, the producers in the audience. They started called me to start working on their stuff. And that’s how I got into your brown hair and mercy. It just started growing when I embraced that identity, when I embraced who I was right, that allowed people to see me, label me, but it also then allowed me to work on or proliferate.

 

00:48:11:05 – 00:48:15:10

J.B.

Like you were saying my name and what I was doing and the sound that I was creating.

 

00:48:15:15 – 00:48:35:23

Mike Patti

So it sounds like it’s like really important to almost establish a brand and Chris could speak to this, but they just need to know, that’s the guy that does that thing. You know, you think of Teddy SHAPIRO, like we know, like he kind of is pigeon himself into a certain genre of film. I know he’s pivoted out a little bit, but we all know Danny Elfman and what that means.

 

00:48:35:23 – 00:48:52:03

Mike Patti

We know what kinds of means. We know we even know what Alan Silvestri, what that means, what you get with. Yeah, you know, and these guys, like, are so smart about figuring that out. And a lot of us, myself included, haven’t done that right, you know, where it’s just like, if you need additional music, you want a chameleon, I’ll be that guy.

 

00:48:52:05 – 00:48:56:03

Mike Patti

But I won’t be. I won’t be mentioned in those rooms, unfortunately, until I which has.

 

00:48:56:03 – 00:49:10:00

J.B.

It, which I think, you know, Mike, you’re like the guy who does theme amusements, right? And you’re known in those circles for the guy who needs to, like, do the attraction ride. And I don’t know if the something that you wanted, it’s something.

 

00:49:10:00 – 00:49:17:12

Mike Patti

That, you know, often is the best gig ever. Yeah, right, Right.

 

00:49:17:14 – 00:49:21:12

J.B.

So the would be hires of Mike. You loved it.

 

00:49:21:14 – 00:49:24:05

Chris Hayzel

You got a theme park hire this guy. Yeah.

 

00:49:24:05 – 00:49:24:21

Mike Patti

Yeah.

 

00:49:24:23 – 00:49:46:11

Chris Hayzel

Exactly that that unique that unique perspective that you were talking about you know that at the beginning seemed like, you know, maybe a bit of a bane because you wanted to work on bigger movies. Was ultimately the thing that gave you your voice. It’s like the John Williams is who Hans Zimmer is, or that Alan Sylvester is, or the Danny Elfman’s.

 

00:49:46:13 – 00:50:11:00

Chris Hayzel

The things that made make them them is that they have their own unique perspective. You know, they’re not trying to be someone else to relate it to more of my corner of music. It’s like when you hear John Bonham play drums, you can tell that it’s John Bonham playing drums, like, don’t try to be this other thing. We beat you.

 

00:50:11:02 – 00:50:13:15

Chris Hayzel

You know, everybody else is trying to be that other thing.

 

00:50:13:20 – 00:50:28:09

Mike Patti

That’s a huge thing. Yeah, because young composers are so influenced by our heroes, you know? And we often start off by just kind of like imitating. But at some point it’s it’s that challenge. Yeah, making yourself set apart a little bit.

 

00:50:28:14 – 00:50:54:00

J.B.

But, you know, doing it in an organic way where you’re doing it based off of some sort of love or desire or some sort of genre, right. That makes to you. Because what’s also happened over these past few years is the concept of what a film score is has really expanded, right? I mean, a decade ago, a film score was pretty much, you know, or an orchestral based score, right?

 

00:50:54:02 – 00:51:12:09

J.B.

Obviously were exceptions, but blah blah. But, you know, ten, 15 years ago it had a certain sound, right. And maybe some electronic makes them up, blah blah. But nowadays it’s like a film score can be anything. So when I run into young composers now it’s like, well, what music do you listen to, You know, outside of sort of film score stuff?

 

00:51:12:09 – 00:51:42:18

J.B.

What do you enjoy? You know, what were you playing in high school, bringing those elements? Is there a specific sound from your cultural background, right, that you can bring because people are looking for new and unique ways, different ways to tell stories and be authentically you and your people will find you. You can’t chase down people. You can’t, you know, put yourself in a particular space where someone’s going to select you.

 

00:51:42:18 – 00:52:12:07

J.B.

There’s no, you know, claw from on high, going to pick you out of the crowd, say you’re the one. No, you really have to embrace who you are, embrace your sound, brand yourself as we talked about, you know, be very single minded about it and then the opportunities will come to you that enjoy your sound and enjoy your persona that really can use your unique self and that is going to serve you way better right than anything else.

 

00:52:12:07 – 00:52:38:08

J.B.

Now, that’s if you want to be a, you know, film composer in that way, like, you know, the lead film composer, they’re playing people who, you know, will make a great living doing additional music, being supporting roles, right? And in that point, it is important to be a chameleon because, you know, you need to sound like the lead composer and there are tons of people who, you know, that is a great job for them and that suits their personality.

 

00:52:38:12 – 00:52:51:00

J.B.

It suits their the way they like doing music, all that kind of stuff. And that is perfectly fine. You just have to understand like, Well, who do you want to be in in this, in this career?

 

00:52:51:02 – 00:53:20:14

Mike Patti

It’s almost like there’s a difference between being a craftsman, right? Someone who would be more of a chameleon who can just show up and just do it, just knock it out of the park. I think of like a John Debney or some someone like that who just crushes any, any style. And then there’s the people that are the true artists that actually create something that’s like authentic, and they really have developed a specific thing that they do, you know, where’s the line there and which one is better to do?

 

00:53:20:16 – 00:53:22:06

Mike Patti

Or I guess we’re saying to be, I think it’s.

 

00:53:22:06 – 00:53:50:09

J.B.

Based on your personality. Yeah, I think it’s based on your personality. Because listen, as we know, when you’re the lead composer, right, so much of job is not about composing music. So much of your job is taking the meetings, branding yourself, being sort of the person that people again want to sort of, you know, have on their team, right?

 

00:53:50:11 – 00:54:22:09

J.B.

It’s leading folks. It’s building your studio, it’s managing the budget. It’s all these other things, right, that you need to do, which, you know, takes up 50 cent I’m 75% of your day, right? Managing all of that. And it also means being the person in the room that can take a meeting with, for example, 15 Netflix execs in a boardroom and make sure that, you know, you’re cool as a cucumber and, you know, leave a great impression on all of them.

 

00:54:22:11 – 00:54:28:09

J.B.

Not everybody who’s amazing at music can do all those things, and that’s fine or.

 

00:54:28:09 – 00:54:31:03

Chris Hayzel

Necessarily even wants to do all of those things.

 

00:54:31:05 – 00:54:49:03

J.B.

Or even wants to do all those things right. Don’t want to do it. So, you know, one of things I always ask composers when, you know, young composers, when I get my bicycle, who do you want to be? Because there are opportunities for you to make music at a very high level, very craftsman level, right? And you’re doing that every day.

 

00:54:49:05 – 00:55:06:16

J.B.

And yeah, maybe you’re in your room and they’re feeding you pieces under the door or whatever, but if that makes you happy, then there is a place for that and you can have a wonderful life where you have, you know, you can support yourself, your kids, you can buy a car and you can go to private school, all that stuff.

 

00:55:06:16 – 00:55:25:08

J.B.

We know people that are like that, they are, you know, amazing. And they have a wonderful life and that’s the role that they support it. Whereas, you know, the other folks will call them like the lead composer. It’s a totally different kind of job. And if you don’t want to do that, then there’s no reason why you have to.

 

00:55:25:12 – 00:55:56:15

Chris Hayzel

I don’t know if this would be a like a a great comparison, but there are plenty of people who enjoy being a session player, you know, and and having making a career out of playing on other people’s records and not really having the responsibility of creating a record or the recognition of being a big artist and then there are people who who are interested in pursuing a career as an artist and who want to do that.

 

00:55:56:19 – 00:56:21:22

Chris Hayzel

I have friends of mine who I’ve been in bands with who they don’t they’re not really that interested in, in writing a record. Like for me, the way that I express myself musically is usually to write a record, spend all of that, all of that time and energy doing that, and then putting that together and releasing it. And then I I’ve been in bands with people who are like, Yeah, I just want to play covers on Broadway and make a living that way.

 

00:56:22:04 – 00:56:47:21

J.B.

You are absolutely right. And you know, that goes back to our original point, which is it’s really just about having a musical life. If you’re music in whatever form every single day, right? You’ve won. And the things that I think that are meant for you are going to come to you. You can’t finagle, you can’t, you know, try and push the scales in your way.

 

00:56:47:23 – 00:57:10:15

J.B.

You can just be your authentic self, which I understand. You have to know who you are and then live that authentic self and your opportunities will come to you. And as long as you’re making music that’s success, as long as you have what you need today, that is success. And for us to, you know, be so myopic in our view, saying if I’m not James Newton Howard, I’m not successful, that’s just wrong.

 

00:57:10:17 – 00:57:26:03

J.B.

Now I’m preaching to myself as well because I love do that. Howard. And I’m hoping that, you know, or, you know, John Powell. So it’s like, yeah, I my is but still I preach to myself. I make music every day and that’s successful. So where do you.

 

00:57:26:03 – 00:57:50:18

Mike Patti

See things going? Like I mean, there’s been enormous changes in this industry in the last two or three years with technology, with AI, with the proliferation of just the number of people that want to make music for a living, technology is making it easier, like in your crystal ball. If we could see the future, which we can’t, you know, where do you see things going?

 

00:57:50:18 – 00:58:02:17

Mike Patti

And is it important to like, prepare ourselves for where we think the sort of be innovating? Maybe the my problem is I obsess about the future too much. And that’s why, you know.

 

00:58:02:19 – 00:58:48:09

J.B.

This is a great question. That’s why I want to come on the show, because asked so many great questions, first and foremost. So thank you for that. But I think there’s two things for me. One is I don’t see this industry supporting the kind of fame slash financial success that the previous generation has had. I don’t believe that this generation of we’re going to create any more sort of John Powells or rent or create any, you know, very McCrory’s or we’re going to see Hans Zimmer’s just because the entire financial structure in which films are being made and how we get compensated is changing, right?

 

00:58:48:11 – 00:59:13:20

J.B.

I mean, your podcast previously about royalties, I listened to the whole thing and it made absolute sense the way we are actually consuming right media is not going to support people getting large sums of money right in royalties, so ends up being sort of a numbers game. It’s kind of like the library game. You have to have a lot of tracks out there to make, you know, any kind of money.

 

00:59:13:22 – 00:59:35:09

J.B.

And unfortunately it’s probably going to be the same way with actual films and TV shows because there’s a lot out there. And in order for you to actually make any sort of money, you have to have a lot of projects. And, you know, when I first kind of think, yeah, I could get like two movies a year, I’d be happy, right?

 

00:59:35:11 – 00:59:54:06

J.B.

No, you can’t. Even if you can’t, you can’t live off of two movies a year nowadays, especially with the fact that, you know, they’re not making again, the blockbuster films that, you know, are going to hopefully be worldwide, you know, box office successes. Very few people can play in those arenas or invited to play in those arenas. Very few people.

 

00:59:54:10 – 01:00:19:10

J.B.

But there’s a proliferation of content, right, that’s on streaming movies, TV shows, a below. But again, they’re not going to have those paychecks. Right. Those fees that are associated with these, you know, mega movies. So what do you do? You now have to sort of downsize right now the dreams of having a studio complex right. Not even a dream anymore.

 

01:00:19:10 – 01:00:20:20

Mike Patti

Or is it even necessary.

 

01:00:21:00 – 01:00:41:12

J.B.

Or even necessary? Right. Most people just work from home at this point, right? You don’t need all this infrastructure. That’s what technology has done. You don’t need all this infrastructure. People are doing whole scores on laptops. Now, I did a score, Jagged Mind, while I was during Christmas break a couple of years a year ago, and I was in Florida on my laptop doing it right.

 

01:00:41:14 – 01:01:06:17

J.B.

So the requirements, you know, the barriers to entry, the technology that’s required, has really sort of changed. And I think we need to also then change our expectations on, you know, what the sort of lifestyle that we’re going to have, you know, doing this thing. And again, if you’re doing this tied to financial success, that’s the wrong metric.

 

01:01:06:18 – 01:01:40:20

J.B.

You need to do this because you love making music, you love telling stories, and you hopefully write love bringing, joy to other people as they interact with your art. Our job as artists is to bring someone joy for the 2 minutes or 2 hours they’re interacting with our stuff. Joy, educate, inspire, right? Make them feel better about themselves and hopefully make them want to make someone else feel better.

 

01:01:40:22 – 01:01:53:15

J.B.

That’s our job and that’s the currency that we need to be dealing with, not these other things. And as long as we’re focused on that, you know, and creating that, then we are successful.

 

01:01:53:17 – 01:01:56:04

Chris Hayzel

Preach so beautifully.

 

01:01:56:04 – 01:01:58:11

Mike Patti

Fun. Amen.

 

01:01:58:13 – 01:02:01:00

Chris Hayzel

Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

 

01:02:01:00 – 01:02:35:08

J.B.

And I just want to say thank you for allowing to be on the show. It really is a milestone for me being able to share my story, you know, with your audience. And again, you know, having met, you know, Mike so early in my career, it really is, again, another one of those touch points that reminds me of the journey and the initial promise after giving up, you know, the vision in my life, because it really has been an amazing journey and thank God it’s not over yet.

 

01:02:35:08 – 01:02:36:12

J.B.

So Let’s see where we go.

 

01:02:36:14 – 01:02:41:08

Mike Patti

Yeah, thanks so much, man. I mean, I’m rooting for you. Give my love to your family.

 

01:02:41:09 – 01:02:50:14

J.B.

Yes. Yes, I will. I will. And yours as well. And yours as well. Of course. I haven’t met your family, so. But I. I love them, too. So, you know, love to that.

 

01:02:50:16 – 01:03:08:06

Chris Hayzel

We hope you enjoyed that conversation. You know, in addition to being a fantastic composer, JB is also just a pretty down to earth dude. So it was a real pleasure to get to meet him and talk to him and hear about his story. And who knows, maybe we’ll have him back on again in the future and maybe I’ll remember to turn on my microphone.

 

01:03:08:08 – 01:03:27:15

Chris Hayzel

If you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it, review it, share it with your friends. You know, let us know what you think and don’t forget to head over to Museo dot com to get a vast catalog of top notch virtual instruments completely free for 30 days. Thanks for listening. Until next time. I’m Chris Hazel and this is orchestrated.