Interview With Jesse James Allen From United States

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Jesse James Allen

Jesse James Allen is the musical prodigy that captured the infinite vastness of Cassini: A Musical Tribute for the website!

Interview with the 2021 Vega Digital Awards Winner - Jesse James Allen

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I found a love for synthesizers and music in my teenage years, inspired by many of the pioneers of Electronic music of the 1970s & ‘80s. I basically ran with this passion for audio technology as the music industry transitioned from analog to digital technology; I was an early adopter of new methodologies.

In the ’90s I made a name for myself as alias “Kid Sonic” with a few dance music singles that made local charts. In 1996 I was part of a surprise #1 Billboard dance remix album for Joi Cardwell. That opened the doors for me to enter the professional audio industry.

From there I explored film & television post-production, then jumped into video game sound design and soundtracks for 13 years/53 games, and then jumped to media design for museums and theme parks.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a digital designer/artist?

Curiosity: I just loved exploring what was possible with sound even before I focused on making music. That is also why I made a career out of sound design.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Currently, I am independent, taking a bit of a professional hiatus to help my father in his elder years but still exploring music, sound design, and other media as I do so.

4What’s your favorite kind of digital design and why?

I am a bit biased toward interactive design due to spending so much time in the video game industry. Perhaps I’m just not a passive type, there is something so cool about getting to interact with stories.

5To you, what makes a “good” design?

A good design is one that is intuitive and intriguing.

6Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

When I design things I often come from a storyteller's perspective. What is the story I am trying to convey?

Why would it be meaningful to the audience?

What would be the most fascinating but appropriate medium to tell this story?

Is there a way to both teach the audience something and make it entertaining?

7Tell us about your design process.

I always start with the story and that helps define the duration even if it’s not about words or language.

Since my foundation is in sound I often explore sound and music to get a feel for the emotion I am trying to convey. Later sound helps fill in extra details that the audience might not see visually. I try to create a theater of the mind for the audience (imagination/perception) in the design. I love technology but I still look for the most accessible tech to make a design feasible and easy to modify.

8Where do you draw inspiration from?

There are so many sources of inspiration, including people, places, emotions, and science.

9What current trends in digital design (or really anything digital related) are you most excited about?

Projected Augmented Reality is fascinating. I think the whole concept of the metaverse and virtual experiences will take off when people can see these experiences without wearing headsets or using phones. Being totally frictionless will make these experiences accessible to all.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2021 Vega Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Well, it’s inspirational. Though I have had success with music in my life I had not previously won an award of this caliber much less three in one season. On top of that to be recognized on a solo project, that is totally not mainstream, at this point in my life, is a blessing. It’s proof to anyone that there is never a better time to pursue those artistic dreams you have no matter where you are in life.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2021 Vega Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Cassini: A Musical Tribute is of course dedicated to the team who launched the Cassini-Huygens Mission in 1997 to explore Saturn and Its Moons. That mission was a joint venture between three space agencies and 17 nations. To me, this mission was profoundly inspiring.

I hadn’t produced a big music project in many years. 2020 was the year that I finally had the time to explore that ambition as well as my love for science again. It took me 8 months to compose the score and design the sounds. There is a companion website to the score that can be found at that tells the mission story and how the music all ties into it. It was meant to inspire the next generation of space explorers.

I decided to enter it because it’s an unusual project and one that is a tribute to the spirit of human curiosity.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The pandemic and the collateral damage from it on the creative industry. The challenges of my father's failing health, so juggling a work-life balance with a full family on top of all that, was a lot. However, despite these challenges, as an artist, it gives you a chance to connect to a more spiritual place and channel that energy and those emotions. Kind of like shouting into a vast canyon and awaiting the echo. That echo came back to me as some of the most beautiful music I have ever written and honestly some of it I do not understand how it came out of me so profoundly. That makes both this album and the awards it has won even more special.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

Of course, the credibility is raised for any artist for future endeavors. Especially when people see the caliber of artists who have won in the same season. It’s also inspiring that you have done something award-worthy and drives you to continue to chase your dreams.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about the digital industry?

You get to be a part of something that brings joy or inspiration into the world.

I love exploring the wild west of the digital age as so much of it is new.

Creating wonderful experiences has never been so accessible to artists.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the digital industry?

Both Hollywood and the American video game industry are radically changing the tools available to us all. With all of the advances in real-time technologies, we are at the dawn of an extraordinary age of immersion.

16Where do you see the evolution of digital industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Real-time technologies will completely redefine workflows. Things like visual effects for films will no longer spend weeks in render, this will accelerate productivity, creativity and lead to discoveries we never would have found with traditional methods.

As both a musician and audio designer, I am already working with the tools that are creating an even playing field for anyone with the ambition to create music. You are no longer constrained by hardware limitations even on a modest budget. You have more music creation power on a laptop now than most world-class studios did prior to the year 2000. If you can’t create great music now, it’s not the equipment holding you back.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Vega Award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Those ambitions you dream about, there is never going to be the perfect time to explore them. Start small, start now, refine your skills and work your way to your ultimate vision.

Follow your curiosity. Skills that may seem irrelevant at first but interest you may be the keys to future endeavors you never saw coming.

When it comes to awards and recognition, it won’t happen without you putting effort into it. Learn to write a great press release, project overview or produce a great explainer video. These are skills that will not only help you win awards but opportunities that can drive your entire career. Consider this training for bigger dreams.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the digital industry?

There are so many fantastic online groups and videos to get started. Try some of the basic tutorials.

Try to network and find a local community of people to learn from and share. This is important for so many reasons. Events like game jams, social clubs, and conventions are a great starting point.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

For the most part, I have always been an open book. I call that my non-competitive advantage.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

This list would be quite long as it starts with my Grandfather and Father all the way down to the many mentors and industry peers I have met on a creative journey that nearly spans half a century.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

My key to success is remaining curious. I am content knowing I will forever be a student.

As for words of wisdom. Of all the skills you can learn, learn to adapt, this will get you the furthest.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I would like to thank the International Awards Associates for the opportunity for any artist, anywhere in the world to have a chance to show off their best work for consideration without the common restrictions that keep independents separated from well-marketed superstars. It’s inspiring that anyone has a fair chance to succeed.

Winning Entries

Cassini: A Musical Tribute | 2022


Cassini: A Musical Tribute is a 15 track album composed by Jesse James Allen. The project honors the efforts of the Cassini-Huygens team for their 20 year 4 billion-mile journey to explore Saturn and its moons. The project also pays homage to the pioneers of electronic music. This was an immense passion project geared toward getting people interested in the history of the Cassini Mission as well as curious about space exploration (STEM). It was a year-long independent endeavor. The webpage is a companion to the album as it explains how all the music correlates to each Cassini Mission Milestone.
(read more at Vega Digital Awards)

Jesse James Allen

Jesse James Allen is the musical prodigy that captured the infinite vastness of Cassini: A Musical Tribute for the website!

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