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Meet Jessica Weiss of Jessica Weiss Music in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Weiss.

Jessica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started performing at a very early age. Dance lessons at around age 3, which is where I fell in love with some of the great classical composers. The soundtrack of my early childhood: Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev. By the time I was 11, I got involved in every theatre production I was old enough to be a part of which eventually led to me booking the role of Clara in Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular.

I went to New York City’s Professional Children’s School, comprised of students better described as misfit toys. We were kids who only knew how to express ourselves through art. When I first entered PCS, I believed my path was to be a Broadway performer. My plan was carefully crafted, my discipline unwavering. Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, George Gershwin, and the great American Songbook became the score of my youth. Soon, my older brother began introducing me to new music and new genres. With each new discovery, the soundtrack of my life was better articulated. I had taken piano lessons as a kid, but I bought my first guitar when I was 13 alongside a love affair with Tom Waits, Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, The Rolling Stones, Richard Bona, Esperanza Spaulding… and the list went on and on. It was at that point that I was hooked. I started writing songs. I was obsessed with writing music.

I attended Marymount Manhattan College where I majored in theatre and music and then continued on to The School of Audio Engineering to study music production/engineering. I started a folk band at that time, continued to write/produce and learned how to work a console and run a studio. I was hungry to learn every aspect of music making.

After graduating, I worked in several recording studios in NYC, but it wasn’t until I started working for film composer Chris Hajian, that I finally found my place. Film music married both my love of the story/narrative and of music. After assisting Chris for several years, I decided it was time to spread my wings. I moved to London in 2011 and worked at De Lane Lea/Warner Brothers Studios. After only three months there, I was recruited by Hans Zimmer and Bob Badami to work at Remote Control Productions in Los Angeles. I packed my bags and booked a room at The Hotel California in Santa Monica. My time at Remote was truly the best education of my life. Surrounded by extremely generous, talented people, I became a sponge – excited to learn from the best. I worked on several films/TV shows, and it was truly the best mentorship program I could have ever hoped for. I built my first LA family there. Thanks to Hans & Bob, I was gently forced to get my driver’s license, which is not normal for New Yorkers like myself.

After working on various projects at Remote Control, I decided to venture off on my own and work independently. Some of my most recent projects include scoring 3QU Media’s feature film “Trouble,” with score producer Mychael Danna set for release next year as well as scoring the new television show “Liza On Demand” for YouTube Red. Next up, I am really looking forward to scoring actress Brittany Snow’s directorial debut film “Milkshake.”

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
If there is an easy train to the land of film composition, I have certainly not been on it. Like everyone in my field, I have been told “no” more times than I would like to count. This is just a natural part of the process. And it’s also an important part. It has inspired me to work harder, think differently and ultimately stay the course.
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule definitely applies in my field… and then some. Talent alone will not reserve any one a spot in the world of composition. It has to be a labor of love. You have to want it more than just about anything else. Perseverance is the only way forward. Being a woman in this business is also a constant struggle but thank God we are making some headway in that area. There are so many talented female composers out there and they will get to swing the bat. They already are.

Apparently, you’re not a “real” composer until you have been fired. So, I look forward to that.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Jessica Weiss Music – what should we know?
I am a composer, songwriter, and singer for multiple visual media platforms (film, TV, commercials, etc). I am constantly finding new ways to explore my musical voice through fusing different genres, styles, and instrumentation.

My sound is very much about marrying the band with the orchestra. Dark heavy guitars with lush string arrangements. The dark and the light with a melody that cuts through. None of this moody drone-y business. For example, I just scored an animated feature film that was an orchestral/funk hybrid, and I am about to release a rock n’ roll record in May.

I like writing scores that have some danger to them. Safe is boring. Not my bag.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
“Can’t” is rarely a part of my vocabulary. Knowing my limitations is important, of course, but my imagination stubbornly fights to reach beyond those limitations. So, I do the work – learn the new piece of gear, study a new musical style, and grow exponentially in a short amount of time to become what I need to be. Determination and persistence are essential. If I’m not sweating, it’s probably not going well.

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