Jared Richardson: Getting Your Foot into the Doors of Production and Composition

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Jared Richardson is a multi-genre composer, songwriter, and pianist from Victoria, BC, and a graduate of Berklee College of Music ’16, Electronic Production & Design.

His compositions have been performed by the Victoria Symphony, Meridiem Wind Orchestra (Victoria, BC), Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria). Jared also worked alongside film composer  Tim Williams on orchestrations for films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, “Get Out” and many more big projects. He also writes/produces pop and electronic music under the artist name J.D. Rich.

Q: Can you introduce yourself? Who are you? What do you do?

A: I am Jared Richardson – a composer, songwriter, music producer, and pianist from Victoria, Canada. My career is currently focused in two distinct areas: as a composer of orchestral & film music, and as an electronic pop artist/producer with the stage name J.D. Rich.

Q: I know that you have worked with film composer/orchestrator Timothy Williams. You were involved as a Score Technical Engineer, and you also worked on orchestrations for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and many more big projects. How did you manage to contact Timothy Williams and what would you recommend current music students to do to get their first foot into their door? 

A: The opportunity to work with Tim Williams resulted from an interesting series of events. I first got into composing for orchestra because of a workshop held every year by the Victoria Symphony in which 5 composers are selected to have a new piece sight-read by the orchestra. Following my first successful participation in the workshop in 2010, I went on to have a number of compositions performed by the Victoria Symphony, one of which was my piece Duel of Champions in 2013 at Symphony Splash, an outdoor concert attended by around 50,000 people every summer. One member of the audience that year was Peter McCoppin, a well-known former music director of the Victoria Symphony, who enjoyed my music so much that he personally reached out to me after the concert. McCoppin has since become a great mentor to me, helping to find opportunities for my career, as well as coaching me in conducting. He happens to be a close friend of composer Tim Williams (who also grew up in Victoria), and recognizing my potential in film music, he strongly recommended me to work with Tim. The best advice I have is to find as many opportunities as possible to get your music heard, as you never know who may be listening!

Enter your music into contests, workshops, etc. as much as you can – anywhere that you have a chance of being noticed by someone who is established in the industry.

If you keep putting your music out there, you never know what may result from it; an example of this was the conducting workshop that I recently attended in Bulgaria with leading orchestrator Conrad Pope – I got the invitation to participate completely by surprise, because they had me on file from a different workshop that I had previously applied to.

Q: What are the aspects of your job you enjoy the most?

A: I love the satisfaction of hearing the final product of a new piece of music, after the hours and days of relentless work involved in creating it. It is incredible to hear a great orchestra performing your music; it can be extremely tedious formatting and preparing the parts for all of the musicians (which seems to take almost as much time as actually composing the music); but when you’re finally there in the concert hall or studio, hearing ideas that came out of your own brain brought to life by a huge group of living, breathing musicians, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. And in the realm of electronic production, I most enjoy when I can sit back and listen to a finished song and think “wow, I actually made this” – after days of picking just the right sounds, endlessly tweaking EQs, compressors, and reverbs, and making about ten revisions to what I thought was the “final” mix, it’s a relief when a track is finally done and I can just enjoy it as a listener (that is, if I’m not already tired of hearing it by that point!). While I currently spend most of my time writing/producing music, I’m also very passionate about performing, and regardless of where my career goes, I want to make sure that to some extent, I will always be performing as keyboard player with other live musicians, in front of an audience. Performing was why I originally decided to pursue a career in music, and I want to make sure I never let go of that, regardless of what success I achieve as a film composer or electronic producer.

Q: What are the aspects of your job you enjoy the least?

A: For me, networking is the least enjoyable part of my career – but unfortunately it is also the most important! Though talent and skill are necessary, having a successful career is all about making connections and establishing strong relationships with key people in the industry. As someone who is an introvert, this does not come very naturally to me. I’d feel most comfortable if I could just be in the studio 24/7 making awesome music; but of course, having great music won’t be of much use if no one knows about it. It is essential to attend events and parties, knock on doors, make phone calls, and send out tons of e-mails. Meeting people and reaching out to make new connections is something that feels out of my comfort zone, but I must force myself to do it nonetheless, and hopefully, it will eventually become less difficult the more that I do it.

Q: What do you think are the most challenging aspects of your current job?

A: As I’m still in the process of establishing my music career, at this point the biggest challenge is to continue generating the right opportunities that will move things forward. As a freelance composer/producer/musician there is never guaranteed work with consistent pay, so one must be constantly forging many new connections and collaborations with the hope that something will result from at least one of them. As more potential opportunities come my way and it becomes impossible to do everything, I’ve been realizing that I need to be strategic about which are the most important to put my time into, and which things I should just let go. There are some opportunities that could be useful in the short term, yet ultimately irrelevant to establishing the kind of career that I want to have, or could even lead my career in a direction that I wasn’t intending. So I feel that I need to be careful to not just take on any project that I can make money from, but specifically those that will help to propel my career in the right direction. I think being selective in this way is very important when you have a clear vision of the career you want to establish, however it can also make things difficult at the beginning when you are struggling to make a living from what you do.

Q: What do you think is important to consider when preparing for after graduating from college that you are thankful now in your professional career?

A: I think the most important thing is to make sure you are already building towards your career before you graduate and to be actively seeking out opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you. I was lucky in that I had been in contact with Tim Williams for a few years, and everything was set up for me to go and work with him as soon as I finished at Berklee. That was one great opportunity that I am grateful for, but in retrospect, I wish that I had sought out more internships and other real-world opportunities while attending Berklee so that I could build more connections in the industry while I was still in school. My advice is to seek out as many outside opportunities as you can while you are a student so that when you graduate, your career is set to launch like a rocket!

Q: What are your future plans professionally?

A: It is my goal to achieve equal success both in film music and in the pop industry. Though they are two very different scenes within the music world, I feel that I have something unique and original to offer in both areas. My dream career is to spend half of the year writing scores to major Hollywood feature films (particularly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres), and the other half recording and touring with my original pop music, and collaborating with unique artists like Sam Smith, Clean Bandit, and Aloe Blacc, to name a few. I don’t think anyone has had a career quite like this before, equally balanced between the worlds of pop music and film scoring. I still have a long way to go to achieve this, but I am constantly excited and motivated by the idea of leading a unique and unprecedented career in the music industry.

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