The composer known for scoring classic cartoons like Scooby-Doo and The Smurfs, as well as popular shows like Family Guy and Star Trek: The Next Generation, has ventured back home to Western Washington in order to escape the crowded streets of Los Angeles and dance to his own tune once more.
Ron Jones has composed more than 40,000 pieces, according to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Jones credits this tremendous number to the pressure put upon him to create the equivalent of one symphony a week for 37 years. Jones said that, for producers, the quality of music came second to meeting tight deadlines, and he compared this factory-like output to massproduced hubcaps.
Jones recalled stress-induced hospital visits and late-night phone calls to his wife explaining that he wouldn’t be able to make it home, sometimes for days at a time. All of this was caused by the high demands of meeting deadlines. After 15 years of working with Family Guy, the time came for Jones and his wife to leave Hollywood and seek refuge someplace else.
The pair spent time looking for property up and down the West Coast, first searching in Northern California, Southern Oregon, and after some time, eventually landing back home in Western Washington. Jones grew up in nearby Bellevue, so he was familiar with the area. But the pair didn’t relocate to retire, looking instead to create something completely different to what Jones experienced in California.
“A lot of people give up on something—they get an RV, drink beer, and play golf,” Jones said. “We came up here and we’re actually working harder than we were there. We’re actually creating something.”
He called this his revenge for all those years he spent working for networks. In order to counter the scene of extreme pressure put upon artists racing against the clock, Jones and his wife have started SkyMuse Studios. The studio offers artists a different kind of music scene. Located deep within the woods between Everett and Bellingham, the objective of the studio is to create a human-friendly environment that lends itself to creativity.
“When I decided to come up here, I wanted to take the best of what we did [in Hollywood], but do it in a deeper way,” Jones said.
Artists are often in disbelief when they arrive at the studio and experience the welcoming nature it offers, he said. Jones is greeted with high fives and smiles from visiting artists. They are amazed by what ultimately sets the studio apart from others: its focus on the fundamentals of creativity. The same fundamentals first drew Jones to composing all those years ago.
Growing up, Jones participated in school band but it wasn’t until his mother forced him and his brother into Drum and Bugle Corps that his interest in composing was sparked. There, he witnessed highly dedicated musicians who spent numerous hours a day marching and practicing in order to perfect their performance.
Jones, who was talented in many art forms, was drawn to the modular composition of music. He compared the art form to building a house and called the musical components of a symphony an abstract building material, all coming together to make a symphony. Jones said his excitement and drive for composing was fueled by the idea and possibility of what would and could be manifested.
“I fell in love with the idea of creating things, creating the music from a vision,” Jones said.
It’s Jones’ vision that led him to a successful life of composing, earning numerous awards, and guest conducting with the London Philharmonic Orchestra this past November. Jones said that, looking back, his favorite scores were those that moved people to tears or emotion. Music, he said, that touched the heart and brought meaning to listeners.
Now that Jones is no longer held back by the limitations of a show’s tight deadlines, he plans to focus on his new music studio and incorporate a broader, more developed musical format. He plans to create more music for himself, and plans to help other young flourishing artists do the same.