Tuning into Excellence: Sonic Stories with Jonathon Deering

Published April 12, 2024

Welcome back to another Sonic Story! It’s time to hit play on our chat with Jonathon Deering, where he unwraps the rhythms and riffs of being a trailer composer.

Sonic Stories with Jonathon Deering

How did you get into composing?

My family is very musical. My dad is a concert pianist and my mum has worked most of my life in the music department of BBC. My musical journey wasn't straightforward, though. I never really wanted to pursue music, almost as an act of rebellion. I initially went down the performing route and attended a couple of renowned schools to study musical theatre and then acting. It was only about six years ago that I realized I went to the cinema more interested in the film's music and composer than in the acting!

What is your creative process like?

Usually, the whole process revolves around mild panic—the good kind, maybe. Especially if it’s for a custom brief or composed specifically for a film. I have the attention span of a headless chicken, so I’ve had to distinguish between distracting panic and the good, helpful panic that helps me get as many ideas down as quickly as possible. The beginning is always the hardest, but what's most interesting for me is finding my way into a project, especially with such tight deadlines. I like to enter into something through a particular sound, whether that be a signature sound that will be featured throughout, a specific instrument, or the way that instrument is played.

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

Maybe it’s the wondrous, expansive style of sound that I love writing for trailers and commercials. I think it’s because it is so polar opposite to the grittier side of things I’m known for in the film-scoring world. I like to think I can specialize in a majority of styles and I think my trailer placements vouch for that. I’ve always been obsessed with different genres of music, which is the main reason I wanted to become a composer in the first place. I never wanted to be doing the same thing all the time. The same goes for the specific sector of music too. I’m slowly starting to work with music artists and songs. The difference between working on film scores, trailers, and artists’ song releases really keeps me creative and prevents me from falling into a routine or churning out the same things.

What Score a Score placement of yours are you most proud of?

I landed a really great TV spot for The Flash not too long ago. The music they used was never written with that genre in mind. It just goes to show that you never know where things will end up.

What lesson took you the longest to learn in your career?

Celebrating your wins with yourself is important. The world of composing for media is so fast-paced that sometimes you don’t have enough time to sit down and pat yourself on the back, or you're so stressed about the next tight deadline that you never get the chance to close the chapter of the previous work. A friend told me the other day, "You are the version of yourself you wanted to be five years ago." It’s important to see your progression and take the time to at least think, "Well done for doing/creating that! That’s great." Then the chapter is closed, and you can look forward to what you’re working on next. This is also so important to me because I was brought up by parents who never really believed in pat-on-the-backs, and I feel like I’m missing a good 20+ years of it!

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

"Hurry up and get into trailer music sooner. Maybe you’d own a house in London by now…"

What is your proudest accomplishment as a composer?

Being able to do this full-time. I’m also apparently the youngest composer to have ever scored a Paramount Pictures feature film! I was 23. That’s quite cool but ultimately meaningless.

If your life were a movie, what genre would it be and who would compose its soundtrack?

Genre: Tragicomedy
Composer: John Powell

Cue the Outro!

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