Award-winning composer and sound designer O-Lan Jones started her career as an actor and singer-songwriter, coming of age as a teenage off-Broadway performer “always around wild people inventing things as they went along” in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Later in Hollywood, she gathered screen credits in the ‘90s for such classics as Mars Attacks!, Edward Scissorhands, Natural Born Killers and The Truman Show and on television’s Seinfeld, Lonesome Dove and The X-Files.
“The downtimes are difficult. When you’re starting out, wherever you are. The nervousness of, ‘Am I up to this?’” Jones says. “Another difficult thing is promoting yourself, to recognize that you have to devote the time.... It’s essential to be able to promote yourself without being obnoxious.”
Eventually Jones’ acting and songwriting skills meshed and people began asking her to write songs for the productions. Jones has since then composed multiple short operas, short films, musicals, original music and designs for more than 30 theatrical productions, as well as directed music for Joel Lipman’s Celebration of the Lizard, featuring songs by the Doors.
Jones says that acting has at times helped her navigate difficult compositions. “When trying to compose something and the melody doesn’t come, sometimes I act it out to see what it feels like,” she says.
“My curriculum for anything, when I’m afraid of something when it’s nagging at me, is look it up,” she says. “Whatever the concerns are, that’s what you investigate and research and learn how to do. You can Google anything, and it’s got the answer.”
Her most recent project is Iceland, a musical production on which she collaborated with Emmett Tinley, the work’s co-writer and co-composer (pictured).
Photo by: Kevin Campbell
For more information, visit O-LanJones.com.