Supe Troop’s Lauren Weiss talked to composer Vincent Jones about film scoring and the soon-to-be-released documentary American Chaos, on which they both worked.
Supe Troop (ST): Hey, Vincent! What lead you to your profession as a composer?
Vincent Jones (VJ): I started as a member of a band signed to Capitol Records from 1987-1992 – we were writing songs and making records. I always loved songs and production. I went on to do a lot of production and mixing and always playing and arranging on the projects. It was a natural progression. I wrote a couple of pieces for some independent movies, short films, and then one day my friend Victor Indrizzo introduced me to Gabby Moreno. She had a brief for a theme submission for a new NBC show. It was Parks and Recreation. We spent an afternoon together and submitted our work. We landed the theme and then I really started focusing more on composing.
ST: Is there a particular score or individual composer’s work that inspired you to be a film composer?
VJ: So many…Morricone’s The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Walter Carlos’s A Clockwork Orange, Bernie Herman’s Vertigo, and Mark Mothersbaugh’s Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
ST: In school, writing papers was so hard for me – staring at that blank page and knowing you had to fill the void. I feel like scoring is similar (though a less empty then a piece of paper of course!). What is your process from taking the scene from silence to sensational?
VJ: I watch the scene several times. Get a feel for the timing and what the sentiment is, I often find, if I can get the right tempo, that is a good place to start. Then I tinker, play with sound, different instruments, really focus on trying to get a vibe, a particular feel that fits and supports the story.
ST: Do you have a favorite cue from any show/movie where the score really made the scene?
VJ: The shower scene in Psycho.
ST: What is your favorite instrument?
ST: What do you look for when you are spotting a film?
VJ: The story. What is the film maker saying and how can I support it emotionally and dramatically with sound. I am not afraid to ask questions with regards to the director’s intention and I will also take lots of notes!
ST: Most directors and producers don’t have a technical background in music and therefore don’t speak the technical terms of musicality. How do you break down that barrier?
VJ: You have to be able to listen and interpret, offer solid solutions and suggestions. Hopefully have a simpatico with them and hope your aesthetic and taste is in line with what there after. An augmented chord to me can mean “Shiny” or “Hopeful” to a director.
ST: What work are you proudest of?
VJ: My children, Charlotte and Julian. (ST: awww!)
ST: What projects do you have in your future that you are excited about?
VJ: The Second Season of Grownish on ABC/Freeform is coming up this fall.
ST: I see that you co-composed the theme song for one of my favorite shows, Parks and Rec! How does it feel to have created such an iconic piece?
VJ: Thank you…that brought a smile to my face. I don’t think about it until someone brings it up. A few years ago the TV Academy arranged an orchestra to play iconic TV themes at Royce Hall. Parks and Rec was included and that was a thrill! [Note from Laura (LK): I was there! It was great!]
ST: There were so many distinct cues in American Chaos. While I loved the whole score, is there a cue/scene in particular you love most? Is there a cue/scene in particular you love most?
VJ: I remember thinking the opening set a real nice tone. The idea was to find style and feeling for each region of the country that we visit without falling back on the obvious. And also to get a vibe for when we hear from the experts.
ST: What is your favorite soup?
VJ: Matzah ball with kreplach. [LK: Wonderful choice!]
Click that American Chaos tag below to see more about the film.