Sculpting Soundscapes: Inside Jeremy Bullock's Musical World

Published February 8, 2024

Welcome to our first sonic story of 2024! This round, we're tuning in with Jeremy Bullock a.k.a JNUARY, a familiar name to those who follow the pulse of trailer and ad music. Jeremy, a pivotal part of our symphony of composers, brings life to visuals with his auditory artistry. Today, we strip back the layers of his compositions to discover what makes his music so memorable.

Sonic Stories with Jeremy Bullock a.k.a. JNUARY

Can you tell us the origin story of your artist name, JNUARY?

The name JNUARY came more out of necessity than anything. I started making music that was more geared towards media and wanted to create an alias that wasn’t my actual name. For whatever reason, usually in spam emails or the occasional coffee shop order, my first name (Jeremy) would sometimes get mistaken for January so I decided to run with that.

What is your creative process like?

At this point, I’ve been working as a full-time musician for over a decade, so I structure my time very much like a regular job. I have a studio behind my house that gives me just enough separation from my daily space to feel like a dedicated work environment, and I’m out there Monday-Friday from 10-5. However, as much work as I’ve done over the years to add structure and consistency to my daily routine, the beautiful thing about the creative process in general is that a lot of times I really don’t know what's going to come out that day. Allowing myself to be open to that inspiration is usually when I find myself most productive.

What is your specialty/what are you known for when it comes to your compositions with Score a Score?

One of my favorite things about SAS is that they offer me so many varying opportunities to create. Every project can be a completely different genre or style. I think my biggest strength is being able to work in those different spaces; it keeps things interesting, and I don’t feel particularly tied to any one 'lane.'

Are there any new trends or techniques that you are loving right now?

One trend in trailer music that I've seen recently is that composers are straying away from some of the more stereotypical trailer styles. Not everything has to feel like a Marvel movie. Sometimes using something unexpected is a great way to make a trailer stand out.

What is your favorite piece of gear in your studio and what is your latest gear purchase?

My favorite piece of gear will always be my upright piano. I have a Yamaha UX that I love and it sounds beautiful. I’m not the best pianist in the world, but even when I’m just working out ideas on it, it’s always inspiring. My latest gear purchase is a new 4-track tape machine. I had an MKII for a long time that started acting up so I got a 414 from Goodwill. I didn’t grow up with a 4-track and I actually purchased my first one after years of working in a DAW, but the limitations of 4-track recording taught me so many things that I use in my DAW recordings now. I also love sending synths or drums out to it and importing it back for tape saturation.

How did you discover Score a Score?

I discovered Score a Score in 2016 through my wife who was actually working for SAS at the time. I had just moved to LA to start composing full-time and met her at a music industry party and she suggested that I try out working with them, which I did. I have been with SAS ever since and have seen them quadruple in size since then.

What are your top three spots/placements that you did for Score a Score that you are most proud of?

The Black Widow trailer is probably my most notable placement to date. I also did a pretty cool custom campaign for Lexus a couple of years back. Although not an ad placement, I scored the film I Love My Dad and SAS supervised it, which went on to win the Grand Jury at SXSW last year. I’m pretty proud of that one.

What have you learned about yourself as a composer since creating trailer music with Score a Score?

Trailer music was something I wasn’t at all familiar with before working with SAS, so my first few years of making trailer music were just figuring out what it was. I spent a lot of time trying to do the trailer thing really well, learning the structure, figuring out all the sounds, etc. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I’ve realized that that's not always the best approach for trailer writing. Usually, editors are looking for something unique and unexpected. So now, when I'm writing music for trailers, I’m trying to tap into what feels most natural and authentic to me, and hope that the music speaks for itself that way.

Your work with Score a Score covers both music for ads and music for trailers. How does your approach differ when composing music for advertisements as opposed to trailers?

The big difference is that when I’m writing music for ads, I’m usually writing to picture, so for me, it's a lot like working on a film. I spend a lot of time trying to understand the emotional intention and identify the music's role in the spot. With trailers, I’m very rarely working to picture initially. So a lot of it is tapping into a unique creative direction or creating interesting sound design that feels unique in such a saturated market.

What's the first piece of music you ever composed, and how do you feel about it now?

I was in a band in middle school called Pico vs. Island Trees, and we wrote and recorded our first song called “Broken” in 7th grade. I’ve made a lot of questionable music over my career, but whenever I listen back to that song, I'm able to look past all its flaws and appreciate it for what it is.

If you could talk to your younger self when you first started composing, what would you say?

To lose any expectations you have for your career in music and be open to wherever it takes you.

When was the last time you surprised yourself both personally and professionally?

I became a father last November which has brought a lot of wonderful changes both personally and professionally. Being able to adapt to the challenge of being a dad has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life so far.

Cue the Outro!

Like a good melody that gets stuck in your head, Jeremy’s insights linger long after this interview. We have tons of Sonic Stories in the works this year so stay tuned by subscribing to our newsletters or by following us on Instagram.