Bentley Jones interview by GamingUnion.net (June 24, 2009)
From Sonic Retro
The following is an interview with Bentley Jones conducted by GamingUnion.net.
Gaming Union: When you started off on OC Remix all those years ago, could you honestly see yourself where you are now?
Bentley Jones: No (laughs), next. When I was doing those remixes, it was more of a hobby. I was at college and after that I was working for a little while, so it was in some wild dreams somewhere, but in my practical plans for the future it was never there. It was only when opportunity and curiosity collided that I really considered doing it full-time.
GamingUnion: Do you think you learnt a lot from doing those works?
Bentley Jones: Yea, I think you learn a lot anyway just by practicing. I write and produce so many tracks and a hell of a lot of them don't ever get used. I'm not happy with a lot of them, so nobody ever hears them, but it's always good practice and it's good practice for production as well because you can experiment with ideas. While you might not be happy with the end song, you can use a technique that you tried in another song, and make it ?all so much better. So yea it definitely helped.
GamingUnion: Would you ever consider doing another remix for OC Remix, just for old time's sake.
Bentley Jones: Maybe, if I could come up with the right track, and I had some free time.
GamingUnion: I'm guessing it would probably be Sonic related?
Bentley Jones: Yea, I'm not sure what the guys at SEGA would think about that, but something Sonic related would be cool.
GamingUnion: Is there a specific track from the older generation of games that you'd really want to have a good go at?
Bentley Jones: Oh man... there would probably be a list, because there are a couple of tracks that I had an unhealthy obsession with. I think my favourite music from the classic Sonic games was from Sonic 3 & Knuckles so there are probably a few from there that I'd like to try if I had the opportunity.
GamingUnion: How did you get involved with working on Sonic albums in the first place?
Bentley Jones: I was shopping around an instrumental album at the time just showcasing my work and I got this email from someone who claimed to be Jun (Senoue). I was really skeptical at first because he was like "Yea, I got your stuff, really like it, do you want to get onboard?" and I was like "Are you really Jun, are you just taking the piss or something?" It turns out it really was Jun though and it was as simple as that. He said "I'm working on a new Sonic game, do you want to be involved?" and I said "Sure, if you really are from Sega". Then the contracts came through and I really started to believe it.
GamingUnion: Have you ever had any opportunities to meet any of the older composers, like the guys from Dreams Come True?
Bentley Jones: No, not yet. Most of my work has been with Jun (Senoue) and Tomoya (Ohtani) and with them originally being based in San Francisco and now being based in Tokyo and me being stuck here in England, our paths very rarely cross. However, I managed to meet up with Jun when I was in Tokyo promoting TRANS//LATION, so that was kinda cool as I haven't seen him for a couple of years. It's always cool to catch up with people in person as it's very rarely done in this job.
GamingUnion: It's public knowledge that you're the first person from the UK to sign a big deal in Japan. Has your life changed much since then?
Bentley Jones: Ermmm, no. (laughs) It was an experience and it definitely ticked off a few of my career goals that I always wanted to do. But unfortunately circumstances with the record label downsizing and the current trends of the music industry means that things didn't quite turn out how I'd planned, which is no-one's fault really. It was a good start for me in Japan and it definitely opened doors for me and it means I'm now doing a lot more work in Japan and, yea, there are forthcoming projects that people will hopefully be pleased to hear about.
GamingUnion: So you don't go out around here and get mobbed by adoring fans?
Bentley Jones: No, and that's the plan. I want to keep the UK as my playground because the later half of this year and specifically next year I'm going to spending a lot more time in Tokyo. So I think it would be nice to stay low-key in the UK.
GamingUnion: I'd imagine you're a bit more a celebrity over there [Japan]?
Bentley Jones: Kind of, but people are different about it over there. I got approached over there and people came up to me, but a lot of people won't come up to you but they'll stand around and talk about you (laughs). I was getting the subway once and there was this group of people, and I could hear they were talking about me, but none of them would come over and say anything to me. I thought it was kinda cute, but also kinda strange compared to western standards. There are a lot of cultural differences you have to get used to when you're over there.
GamingUnion: Did you ever get the chance to meet Ayumi Hamasaki?
Bentley Jones: No, not yet! (laughs) When I heard she called EMI, it was trippy, completely trippy. It was one of those mornings that I worked until silly o'clock in the morning and my manager from EMI called me up and very casually said "we've got permission for this track and this track. Oh, and Hamasaki-san called us yesterday and said that she loves your version of 'Depend On You' and approves your lyrics". And I was like "What, Hamasaki-san personally?", and he replied with "Yea". I put the phone down and it didn't hit me for a couple of hours and then I was just calling everyone.
GamingUnion: So you never got the chance to speak to her personally?
Bentley Jones: No unfortunately, but yea, you never know. I'm doing a lot more work over there this time and I'm going to be spending a lot more time over there. So if our paths cross...
GamingUnion: Maybe when you've sold a couple of 10s of millions more albums she'll want to do a collaboration?
Bentley Jones: If I reached a quarter of her level, I'd die a happy man.
GamingUnion: You've worked on remixes from some big name artists. Have any of them said thanks?
Bentley Jones: No. The bigger the artists, the more likely you'll deal with "their people". I always only deal with their management or record label and they aren't always very grateful. You just have to surround yourself with the right people and I've been really lucky that there are a very small handful of people that have been with me from the start and I can rely on them for anything. In terms of hearing back from big artists, it doesn't happen very often. Especially since, as far as America is concerned, I'm a fairly unknown producer from the UK.
- Original Interview at Gaming Union.net.