We had the great opportunity to sit down with the founder of Alan Audio Works, Jeffery Alan Jones. He has been called “The Gold Standard in Film Sound,” and his resume definitely backs that up. With over 200 credits to his name and multiple projects on the horizon, this prolific master of sound has created his own domain. He has won over 50 awards from numerous prestigious film festivals. Here is our interview with the masterful, Jeffery Alan Jones.
What got you into sound, and why are you so passionate about it?
I’ve always been fascinated by sound. I grew up near the beach, and I loved listening to the waves and surfing as much as possible. I was also in the Boy Scouts, and we ventured into the wilderness, backpacking, rock climbing, and canoeing several times a year. The incredible sounds of nature and the ever-changing seasons stimulated my imagination and creativity in many ways. Naturally, I loved music and studied diligently, both as a pianist and drummer. My love for music went hand-in-hand with my passion for sound. Melding these two disciplines molded me into a sound designer and composer.
You went to Long Beach State and UCLA. Those are two very prestigious schools for sound and film. Do you attribute your mastery of sound to that education?
Both universities had extraordinary influences on me. I learned music theory and music composition. I was able to write, compose, and perform on many different levels at both schools. I also studied the master composers and performers in great depth, absorbing their work and expanding my own world of music. I received a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and a master’s degree in music composition. Music composition opened up my horizons and exposed me to the influence of contemporary composers such as John Cage. He viewed any sound as music: from dropping and shattering a plate, to complete silence. He interpreted music simply as whatever you hear, or not hear. That greatly influenced me, and I have advanced this ideology in my own musical composition and sound design. It’s hard to separate the two; they are one and the same.
“In filmmaking, it’s about supporting the narrative process through sound…”
You’re now considered to be the gold standard in post-production sound for film. Could you tell me why you’re so successful?
In short, working my tail off! Sure, there must be talent in there somewhere, but nothing beats discipline, sacrifice, and hard work. Many great athletes and artists will tell you the same thing; they’re gonna outwork everybody. So, I studied very hard. I worked even harder. I sacrificed many things in life and took the time to work on my craft. The passion was always there; resistance would have been futile. I love it so much that I never felt like it was work, and I still don’t today. Everything I’m doing now is a culmination of where I started, and where I’m going. It’s immersing myself in every step of the creative process.
So I see you’ve done a lot of great work overseas. What are some highlights from travels?
Wow, there are many. Touring with the National Chinese Orchestra was a big one. I conducted several concerts throughout China and Taiwan, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Taipei, and Kaohsiung. The experience traveling throughout Asia was terrific, visiting new places and meeting new faces. On the filmmaking side, I’ve worked on several movies in Sydney, Australia, Beijing, and Shanghai. I also toured as a concert pianist performing many genres of music, from small ensembles to large symphony orchestras, in which I also composed, arranged, and conducted. Music is the universal language, and it bridges the gap between the language barrier. It was wonderful to meet such beautiful people, create new friendships and perform with so many superb musicians.
So I see you’ve collaborated with some A-list talent in the film industry. Could you tell me why everyone wants to work with you?
Because I’m all in, easy to work with, and love what I do. You will get more than you expect. No shortcuts. I’ll take the time and effort to breathe new life into every creative process. In filmmaking, it’s about supporting the narrative process through sound. Enhancing the subtext and creating rich soundscapes that help highlight the essence of every story. Ultimately, it’s about the journey and creative expression. It’s loving what you do and giving it 110% across the board.
As a skilled composer yourself, who are some of your favorite composers of all time?
I admire several great composers that all had a profound influence on me. J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and many more. In the world of film music: Bernard Herman, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, to name a few. Jerry Goldsmith was groundbreaking in the film “Planet of the Apes” (1968). He used sound components in the score that were not traditional music instruments, such as metal sheets, hammers, and anvils. He implemented unorthodox ways that created a unique and terrifying score encompassing both sound design and music. Much like another favorite composer, Edgar Varése, who emphasized timbre and rhythm with percussive, angular melodic contours. He also coined the term “organized sound.” This was a big eye-opener, proving that you can combine any sound with music. Finally, of course, there’s the godfather of film music, John Williams. He has done it all. Regardless of the musical style or film, he brings an original approach to every film score. He’s a thoroughly skilled and creative composer that elevates every film he touches.
What’s next for Jeffery Alan Jones?
To keep stepping up and thoroughly enjoying the process. I am currently working on “Groove Tales,” an animated feature starring Jamie Foxx. I’m so excited about this film, the entire soundtrack for the movie will be created in the post production process, every single sound! Some other upcoming movies include: “Nine Bullets,” starring Sam Worthington, and “The Fortress,” starring Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray, an action-packed thriller. I’ll keep creating unique soundtracks, collaborating with filmmakers, and having a wonderful time along the way because, ultimately, it’s about the journey. It’s about doing what you genuinely love and naturally allowing everything else to fall into place.