Jason Moss says his view on gear is “less is more,” and he tries to keep as high-quality a signal path as possible.
Jason Moss didn''t always want to be a composer; he wanted to be a rock-star vocalist and guitarist. But while attending a state college in New Jersey, he began interning at different music-production companies in New York City and the composing bug hit. With the help of mentor Cliff Sarde—with whom Moss just finished an album, Smoke ‘n Function (Mesa Blue Moon, 2010)—he was able to hone his chops, with such gigs as work for Fox Sports, commercials, documentaries (Juvies and The Business of Being Born), and episodic TV; you can check out his reels at sister site reel-exchange.com. EM spoke with Moss just days before his new site, supersonicnoise.com (see Fig. 1), was to go live, and talked to him about his game plan for his composing work, finding new work, and his studio setup.
So you currently live in L.A. When did you move away from New York?
In 1996, I moved to Phoenix and I really blossomed there because I was a big fish in a small pond. I became a director of music for an educational network owned by Simon and Schuster. I basically started out doing kids'' music for this Sesame Street-meets-Discovery Channel network, and it broadcast educational content live into the classroom. It was really innovative, and as their programming grew, I became their go-to music guy. And then I started doing outside advertising work, and I''m also a singer, so I did some session work.
And in 2000, I said, “I''ve done everything I can here.” It was either back to New York or L.A. I did an album in 1997 at the Village Recorder [L.A.] with Cliff [Sarde] producing it, and I was like, “Oh, my god. The Eagles, Jackson Browne! Okay, I''m here!” It was that Southern California vibe that captured me. So I moved in 2000 and basically lived on a friend''s couch and I put my studio up in her bathroom and started hustling. My first big gig was the NFL Open on Fox, which ran for three or four seasons. That''s how I got in with Fox Sports. I did the Super Bowl opener for Super Bowl XXXVI and a whole bunch of little stuff for them.
How would you describe your composing style?
My school is that of CBGBs; I''m not an educated, trained guy like half the composers out there. Half the chords I''m playing, I don''t even know what I''m playing [laughs]. I don''t want to think too much while I''m writing; everybody always thinks too much. That''s what works for me.
How did the Super Sonic Noise company come about?
You need to figure out how to sell yourself. I started Moss Man Music, which is one of my publishing companies, and then I met some business partners that had a company called Super Sonic Music and Super Sonic Media Group and joined them in 2003. They went their separate ways and I was basically given the name—Super Sonic Media Group—and I turned it into Super Sonic Noise. I was signed to a music house in Venice [Calif.] called Machine Head for a few years and they represented me for commercials, but my TV and film work were still [under] my own business.
FIG. 1: Here''s a page from Moss'' new site, supersonicnoise.com, which will be live by the time you read this.
And with Machine Head, I was really able to grow as a composer and did a tremendous amount of commercials. It was really an education of a lifetime because you were basically thrown into the middle of a fire without any retardant. I did Super Bowl spots; every caliber of commercials that I always dreamt of doing. It''s really helped my career even to this day, even though I do maybe a dozen or so commercials a year. The commercials were really fascinating to work on. I love short-form and long-form; I''m just lucky to work in both.
FIG. 2: Moss does his music production in Apple Logic Pro. Here''s a screenshot from a Bounty ad he scored.
Tell me about your catalog.
My attitude is this is like an indie label of composers. I have a ton of material in there. I have a couple of composers who have written for the catalog. I have some other guys who will be contributing. But the catalog has just been released and is being represented by Fuze Artz, and that''s another company a friend of mine started. It''s a boutique catalog—about 800 tracks and growing—but it''s really tight. I''ve also done stuff for Nettwerk, FirstCom and Fox, and they have some good stuff, but I''m just focusing on the Super Sonic Noise catalog, as far as licensing goes.
Other than your own sound library, what else do you work with?
I love all the Spectrasonics stuff; they''re brilliant. I''m an Apple guy, a Logic guy. I love [XLN Audio] Addictive Drums; it''s a brilliant piece of software for not a lot of money. I''m using the Project Sound stuff, which is great for non-orchestral guys like me to get the flavor.
Talk about your studio setup.
I have a room in my home; it''s real simple, modest. If I have to do sessions, I can always go to a studio. But I can do 90 percent here—live guitars, bass, acoustic instruments, vocals. If I have to do ensembles, I''ll go somewhere else. I just work out of the house because it doesn''t pay to have the overhead—unless you''re doing two ABC shows—it''s just too much of a challenge. Eventually, I wouldn''t mind looking into a space or building a larger space on my property. I get a little stir crazy, but who doesn''t?
So Logic is your primary software?
Everything''s in the box using Logic [see Fig. 2]. I''ve been using Logic since I was like six years old [laughs]; I started at [version] 3.4 or 3.5. Back in 1996, my buddy got me into Logic. From Pro Tools to Logic, I think they''re all wonderful; it''s basically about how you''re introduced to it and how comfortable you are with it. For me, Logic is just what I know. It''s like a wife; you''re comfortable with it.
My system is six hard drives, a controller, [Grace Design] preamps. Everything is simple, clean; I think less is more. My controller is an old Roland SPX-60 keyboard. I still have it because I like using the arpeggiator on it. The quality of my gear is in my signal path, for which I use an RME Fireface 800. I just want to hear things clearly and don''t want a lot of obstruction; I just want to be able to record a guitar or any analog instrument really cleanly.
Are you using social networking to get new gigs?
Oh, sure. YouTube has been really great to be able to showcase the music for picture jobs. MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn, I''ve used extensively. I just can''t get on the Twitter bandwagon because it''s like, “Okay, it''s way too much now.” When the new site launches, I want to be able to promote the site and new work through that. I''ve done a few remixes and I started a side project called the Cinematic Noise Orchestra. I started a MySpace page for that, which has remixes and more electronic avant-garde music.
What do you consider the most challenging aspect of your work?
Getting work, obviously. But maintaining consistency of the relationship so there''s a sense of loyalty. What you want is that John Williams/Steven Spielberg relationship. This is your guy and they''ll come back to you. And they''ll come back because you do great music and you deliver, as well as because you''re a team player, you''re not “in” your ego, and they like you. It''s really about they enjoy who you are and what you represent; great music is the icing on the cake.