Welcome!

Jake Kaufman is a composer and sound designer in Los Angeles, with a truly heartfelt connection to game music. His versatility, charismatic style, and devoted following make him an essential part of any development team — large or small, epic or fluffy — who want to stand out from the crowd.

Click the navigation dots below for a quick overview, or feel free to explore.

Experience

As a freelancer and an in-house studio employee, Jake has held positions ranging from sound designer to audio director, and worked on over 50 games in his 10 year career. All this before age 30!

Meet Jake

Dynamic Music

Jake’s overall sound is generally “big”, with many layers of intricate harmonies. Continuing the traditions of his own favorite composers, even his underscore is filled with detail. For Red Faction Guerrilla (pictured), he joined forces with a team of composers to write 3 hours of huge and contrasting music, which changes in intensity as the player explores the barren landscape and gets into trouble.

The Composer with a Thousand Voices

Big band, Gypsy Jazz, Surf Rock, 50s Sci-fi, Disco, Bhangra, Mambo, Zydeco, Southern Hip Hop – Jake is able to take the integral harmonies and rhythms of a particular style of music and write strictly within them, or even combine them (often in hilarious or mind-bending ways!)

Sound Reasoning

Jake loves creating sound effects, designing atmospheric audio, and field recording new sounds, from footsteps to airplanes. Jake has created thousands of sound effects over the years, from alien blasters to cat warriors, from scripted noises on a Game Boy to cinematic foley for AAA titles.

Not just a rock star

Jake is himself a hobbyist game programmer, 3D animator, level designer, and visual effects enthusiast. This gives him the unusual ability to communicate with programmers and artists as easily as with other audio people.

For example, click the image to see a video he created to promote his recent soundtrack to IGN’s DS
Game of the Year, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge.

All true warriors

Anyone in the game industry knows that the best-planned project is still a minefield of stress. Jake’s professionalism is tempered by humor, a deep respect for Murphy’s Law, and above all, empathy for fellow developers.

When inspiration strikes and time allows, Jake will stay up way past his bedtime, making great stuff for your dev team to enjoy. Click the image to see an example.

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Latest news

KWAKFEST 6-pack

As a special treat, please enjoy this collection of my recent Kwakfest entries!

- BEARS: Theme was “CARL SAGAN IN SPACE” and unfortunately I was unable to participate at the time, but yesterday I set aside an hour and did a song anyway after a couple of shots. I promise I did not cheat, I took 55 minutes and change, and forced myself not to change it at all after the hour.
- whipswing: This is totally a “90s swing revival everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon hooray” version of castlevania 3 “clockwork”
- HAMMERTIME: The special theme here was NINJAS!!!!! and my special procedure was: drink another shot of Courvoisier every 6 minutes, so by the time the hour was up I had consumed 10 shots. Forget drinking and driving, the real danger in my life is drinking and sequencing, and you can hear my skill and determination fall apart over the course of the song.
- Battak: Battak is, I think, Hindi for “duck”. Yes, that’s the Ducktales theme with MIDI tabla and sitar. Sorry, but this is probably the best one yet, especially the “If I only had a ____” section.
- Three Inches: Standard v-kwakfest style, just particularly complex this time with a well-defined recurring theme.
- Supabonk: Starts out with my take on Super Bonk’s Adventure for SNES, degrades into a horrifying adventure through the sex lives of Metal Gear’s Solid Snake and our own Super Mario. Yes, that’s Yoshi doing Mario in the ass.

Hope you enjoy these. Kwakfest is really the highlight of my life, and the perfect exercise for speed-writing and improvisation.

Diablo

R.I.P. Ben “Diablo” Shelton, 1974-2005, #trax regular, sysadmin guru, beer connoisseur, rally racing fan, telecom geek. Passed away on April Fool’s day, of all the luck. One of the people whose general knowledge I most respected, despite our strongly differing political viewpoints and frequent snarking. He seemed to know at least something about almost everything.

When I got to my computer and saw them talking about his passing, I was already feeling pretty gross, and I just did a triple take and sort of ..quietly retracted into the sequencer and drowned out everything by writing music. I didn’t use a metronome or do any cleanup, I just hit record and played fake guitar because Ben said once that he liked my fake guitar.

Heaven is in Europe, you commie tree-hugging yoga-stretching bastard.

Sorry if I brought anyone down upon reading/hearing this, but I’m a mess right now. Disabled comments, but I’ll be back to my chipper self probably by tomorrow or something. With Kristi around making silly faces and yawning I am unable to remain upset for more than a day or so.

Legend of Kay

big update today. four new arrangements!

The Legend of Kay, which is my first large-scale console title, is out in europe! you can order it by following the links on the official website in the uk and germany.

i’m not sure what the north american release schedule looks like, but hopefully it will come out here soon too. i’ve been sent a copy of the european version, so i’ll have to use a ps2 mod to play it (it has an NTSC option, in case you want to import), but i can’t wait.

in other news, i’m currently in calgary for the next couple of weeks, working on more goodness with orbital media. their first game, Racing Gears Advance, has just been released for the GBA, and while i didn’t do the music (it’s by neil voss, the badass who scored tetrisphere), the game is very smooth and these guys are super talented.

shame it’s up in the frozen north, eh? (it’s actually warmer than baltimore right now, though that could change at any second).

Finally set up a proper weblog!

Thanks to a recommendation by my awesome, local, adorable blog-wizard friend Jay, I hooked up WordPress and jammed it into my current layout. Every time I add a new song to my site or experience a noteworthy career breakthrough, I will post about it here. So check back often, and be sure to leave some comments — I doubt I’ll ever get so jaded that feedback, even from complete strangers, doesn’t help me out.

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