We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Bennett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I enjoy comfort zones as much as the next person, but I think if you’re not evolving, you’re staying stagnant. From balancing school, a day job AND a career to balancing a corporate job AND a career to now being a Stay-At-Home Working dad, there’s never been a time where I didn’t feel like I was figuring it out on the fly.
In the past year, I’ve had a baby and started prioritizing my physical and mental health, as well as trying to find time to simply enjoy being with my wife, who is busier than I am and a fantastic, inspiring success. Since I’m at home with the baby and working on various projects, I’ve had to find a way to make sure I can spark my creativity at a moment’s notice and be efficient in writing as much music as I can in 45-60 min timeframes. That wasn’t as hard as learning how to shut it off the second I need to and not feel creatively unsatisfied and agitated, which is something we creatives don’t talk about often, but can be a big problem. You don’t want to turn your time with your family and friends into something that you spend the whole time annoyed at since you can’t work.
On top of the creative work, there’s a lot of maintenance that goes into being a Composer and Sound Designer. Sometimes you simply must stop writing and experimenting to restring your Mandolin, fix the loose jack on your guitar or backup your Sound Libraries. Even though I try to do all of that as necessary, I’ll typically schedule 2 “Admin Days” a month that are only for Studio Maintenance and Organization. One day I’ll be able to pay an assistant to help me with that, but as a one person operation who works on multiple projects at a time, it’s more important to do yourself than you’d like to admit.
I’m also telling myself that it’s ok not to be constantly accomplishing something every minute of the day. It’s important to let your mind decompress, and it’s important to take care of your physical health. I spend most of my work day sitting in front of a computer, so if I’m not careful I’ll allow my body to stagnate and rebel, which is something I’ve been through before and want to avoid again. Even though I don’t naturally LOVE doing it, I’m trying to find more time for exercise and physical activity, even if it’s just taking the baby and dogs on a walk around the neighborhood.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Although I’ve walked a few different paths in my Professional Life, my current focus (as well as my passion) is as a Composer and Sound Designer for Media.
As a composer, I love the challenge to take my skillset and adapt it to enhance a story. I’m not great with words, and I’m not great with pictures, so I have learned how to tell stories with Sound and Music. It gave me the freedom to learn so many different instruments, how to properly write for an Orchestra, and how to program synthesizers (which is a specific love language of mine). I always say I learn through Osmosis, so simply being around films and music is enough for me to translate what I hear to my specific skills. For example, I’m not John Williams, and I don’t think that will ever be my style or sound, but I love love LOVE adapting what he does and how he hears music through my own filter to see what comes out.
As a Sound Designer, it’s a much more technical role, but still one that allows me to use my specific way of thinking to tell stories. Through this role, I have been granted the opportunity to records my own sounds and atmospheres in the wild, incorporate sounds I like from my own home into projects, and use the equipment I have in front of me to make something I’ve never heard before. The day I made my monthly mortgage for the first time by playing with analog delays and synthesizers to create 10sec of UFO sounds was a proud day for me, and only solidified my passion for it.
What I think helped create my style/brand/professional personality is simply the fact that I didn’t go the traditional route to learn how to do this, but was stubborn enough to learn how to do it anyhow, and learn how to do it fast. Not only did I want to make money and create, but I truly wanted to learn how to do it the right way. I started out doing everything on Guitar and Piano, and from there I am now in a place where f I’m asked to write traditional orchestral film music, I don’t feel like I’m faking it, I feel like I have the skill and drive to do it well and have fun doing it.
I’m currently working on a short film that requires the style of score from the French New Wave or Italian Comedies of the 60’s, which I’ve never done before. But taking.a day to immerse myself in Fellini and Goddard, I was able to sit in front of my computer and write themes that were exactly what the producers wanted to hear. Even when I’m learning new styles, I have the confidence to jump right in and have fun with it. It only took me a decade to get there 🙂
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In pre-pandemic times, one of my favorite things to do was to hike up Stone Mountain. I’d love to see the side of it sandblasted, but the mountain itself is an amazing piece of nature and a great workout.
One of my favorite places to meet up with people is Decatur Square. Not only because of it’s proximity to the city and the. suburbs, but because it’s such a beautiful place, and it has one of my favorite Italian Restaurants in the US (Sappori di Napoli). I’m also a sucker for libraries, and the DeKalb public library is a great one to meander through.
When it opens back up, I would love to take my friends to an Atlanta Dream game. The team is great, the stadium is comfortable, and when the drunk soccer fans come pouring into the standing section, it gets SUPER fun!
The first place I ever checked out in Atlanta was Smith’s Olde Bar, so that is 100% a place I would take my musician friends. But as far as a simple pub with good food and a great drink selection, you CANNOT beat Thinking Man in Decatur! That’s home turf for us.
And finally, I’d leave early on Sunday Morning to get donuts from Revolution for everyone. It’s a moral imperative.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ahh, the Oscar question! There’s always so many people to thank!
The support of my wife Jessica (who is an amazing Creative, Stunt Performer/Coordinator and Intimacy Coordinator) means everything. I sometimes cannot believe how she’s able to accomplish so much and still make time to help me, whether it’s giving input on a cue or proofreading a pitch.
My daughter has just started walking, and when I let her explore the studio, she sometimes plucks out melodies on the piano that I tuck away for future projects. Don’t worry, she gets a cut 😉
You know how you always hope that someone who’s been successful in your field will take notice of you without getting anything in return? For me, that’s Chilitos Valenzuela, an educator, Audio Engineer, Sound Designer, Writer, and personal hero of mine. We bonded over our shared love of Synthesizers, and his input, advice and guidance have been invaluable to me. I wish I could return the favor to him, and one day I will, but for now I’m following his example and making time for others who ask for guidance.