Composer Jocelyn Chambers on Her Inspirations as a Creative Entrepreneur

'When words fail, music speaks.' Our chat with Butter Music and Sound's newest signing

Jocelyn Chambers is a composer at Butter Music and Sound. She has always been a creative entrepreneur, learning how to play piano while running Sweets by Jocelyn at age 9. Music and film deeply resonated with her as a child, and once she discovered film scoring as a career option, it was a no-brainer that she would pursue it.

Jocelyn went on to study at the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a bachelor of music in music theory. She moved to California, pursuing a graduate certificate in film scoring from UCLA. While studying, she began working as a post-production assistant on Netflix's Grand Army and Designated Survivor, eventually scoring music for both projects. Last summer, Jocelyn revived Sweets by Jocelyn, which was put on hold so she could focus on composing.

We caught up with Jocelyn for our Liner Notes series to learn more about her musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work she's proud of and admired.

Jocelyn, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Austin, Texas, and now live in Los Angeles.

Your earliest musical memory.

Sitting with my dad as he played old gospel hymns, and hearing my granddad play gospel and jazz piano at Christmas.

Your first concert.

La Dispute at Stubb's ATX with my high school best friend, Ocean! It was their favorite band.

Your favorite bands/musicians.

Lianne La Havas. I always say she writes music that sounds like me. Same for Phoebe Bridgers—I'm weak for her lyrics and sound world. And of course, Kendrick Lamar. I love how he doesn't tie himself to any genre of music. "For Free," my favorite song from To Pimp a Butterfly, is a celebration of improv jazz and spoken word. In a word, it's delicious.

How you get your music these days.

I listen to almost everything on Spotify, but I'm a sucker for a good vinyl.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

I love a good standing-room-only venue that's not too big so you feel like the artist is singing just to you. I have a lot of good memories at Stubb's ATX, like watching Walk the Moon play a late-night show after the ACL festival during their Talking Is Hard era ("Aquaman"—best song ever!).

Your favorite music video.

I'm not really a music video watcher! I'm so visual that I have an idea of what the music looks like in my mind and I find watching the music video can mess with that. That said, all of Lemonade by Beyoncé.

Beyoncé | Hold Up (Lemonade)
Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.

The Why Music Podcast by Nate Holder. He educates children about underrepresented composers and musicians and brings a passionate appreciation to his work. Plus, I have an episode with him! Also, not music-focused, but I really like the music in the scripted podcast Blackout.

A recent project you're proud of.

I wrote an SSAA choir piece called "Eres Niña Encantada" for a high school in Illinois. The text, a poem I found on Twitter called "Jazmine," was set in Spanish. It was my first non-English choral piece and it turned out really magical.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

Daniel Hart's score for The Green Knight. It's truly a celebration of string instruments. It stretches what they're capable of and the sound world he builds beautifully complements the medieval fantasy world of King Arthur.

How musicians should approach working with brands.

Everything in this industry is about relationships. If I were to approach a brand, I would make sure they're confident of two things: that my work would help them fulfill their vision, and that they could easily have a beer with me. There's art in knowing how to communicate and collaborate with people who don't always speak our artistic language.

Showing them you're comfortable around them—and that they can be comfortable around you—can transcend different communication styles. It ultimately creates a better product and hopefully keeps them coming back for more. That, and offering homemade pie during meetings.

How brands should approach working with musicians.

My favorite clients are those that have a good idea of what they want me to create. Even having inspiration playlists can show me how to proceed. I love seeing everything. The deck, the script, the color scheme they've chosen for their project—they all inform my process. Composing, after all, is creative decision-making. I love when clients give me a roadmap of what decisions will best suit their vision.

What music can do that nothing else can.

I have a playlist on my Spotify called "if I had to tell her," full of deeply poignant music that I would play if I had to describe love to another person. To echo the old sentiment—when words fail, music speaks.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.

I own a home bakery business called Sweets by Jocelyn! I would be baking and running a psychology practice dedicated to giving BIPOC uninhibited access to mental healthcare.

Liner Notes is our weekly interview series, publishing every Monday, where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please get in touch.

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