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.
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!
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!)
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.
Guys, whoa. I couldn’t possibly have expected THAT kind of response, we’ve been getting thousands of visitors from everywhere! In no particular order, thanks to my friends at NeoGAF, Destructoid, NintendoLife, GameMusic4All, and IGN for directing people over here to enjoy the free tuneage.
Without boasting about numbers, let’s just say that I’m shocked that so many people who downloaded the album have paid for it. I can’t thank you guys enough — your generosity is seriously going to help me make better stuff. If not for the shiny new gear, then for knowing that you’re actually excited about hearing it. But even if you can’t buy the album, PLEASE don’t feel guilty about downloading it for free. If I didn’t want you to, I wouldn’t have put the link up! The best way you can show your appreciation is to spread the word, show some love for everyone around you, just be awesome.
Anyway, here’s the music video, recently posted on YouTube:
Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame has been released for Wii and DS!
I wrote original music for the Wii (ingame “level” music) and DS (the whole thing) versions of the game, and designed the sound effects in both games (over 700 SFX in the DS game, what the hell!?) except for the ambient environmental “beds” of sound, half of which were handled by our amazing programmer-with-a-music-background, David D’Angelo, and the other half of which were done by our talented Audio Intern, Joe Carlo. If the Wii game feels extra immersive due to the sounds of the city, caves, office buildings, and deserted subway tunnels, please tell me so and I’ll pass it along to them.
To elaborate on the musical side, this is an answer I gave to a magazine interviewer last week:
“For the Wii game, I knew we’d have to match the tone of the show stylistically, just as the characters and writing do. Having seen the whole series, you can imagine my fangirl-squee upon receiving a hard drive filled with hundreds of cues from the actual show. We took this existing material and fit it into areas of the game which were consistent in tone, such as boss battles, menus, or cinematics. For gameplay in the levels, I wrote and recorded original music, aiming for the “crime jazz” style of the show. The game cross-fades seamlessly between several variations of each theme (exploration, danger, and combat), adding that last bit of flourish to what’s happening on the screen.
The DS game, however, is basically a legit early-90s brawler. I spend nearly all of my hobby time writing music which sounds like it’s from early Konami and Capcom games. So I went Super Saiyan, and bashed together the ridiculous combination of classic beat-em-up music and the campy 60s Batman vibe. The result is the best work I’ve ever done, and I strongly urge everyone reading this to find a way to trick someone into paying them for something they already do for free.”
Unfortunately, a soundtrack release is not planned (it’s more complicated than you might think — especially for a large publisher, even an iTunes release involves a lot of red tape, royalty and rights arrangements, and legal documentation — and they’re not just going to let me post the mp3s for free, it doesn’t work that way). So, for now at least, the only way to hear the music is to play the game(s).
I use Company Time VERY EFFICIENTLY:
During early development, before I came on site, the Wii team was using the song “Spy”, from the anime Cowboy Bebop, as a temp track. It was the only music in the game for something like 8 months. Even though it’s an awesome song from one of the best soundtracks of all time, everyone had grown pretty tired of hearing it day in and day out.
The DS game, on the other hand, had been using Contra 4′s music as temp tracks, since they had ported over the audio engine. And they, in turn, were getting pretty tired of hearing the Harbor Stage music over and over again for months on end.
So, when the time finally arrived for me to write new music for the DS version, the very first thing I did should be obvious…
BRAND NEW MUSIC! (mp3 download)
“Bebop Rolling” has now become a fine tradition here at the office.
Hi everyone! Still going crazy with work and rebuilding my health after a crazily hectic, transitional year. Just haven’t done a whole lot of music “just for fun”, so I haven’t had much to post here.
But I had to take a minute to share something with you: If you enjoy chiptune music that is unapologetically funky, nectarine-sweet, and filled with luscious textures, lo-fi samples, and decadent synth ganache coated in luxurious waterfalls of dark chocolate, you cannot miss this album by George and Jonathan. It is truly great.
Also, if you haven’t heard it yet, the Famicompo Mini vol. 7 NSF Competition song pack is up. If you don’t have a player for NSF files, try VirtuaNSF (near the bottom of the page). I didn’t enter any songs, but the entries represent the absolute state of the art in NES chiptune technique, and the bar has REALLY been raised. I’m utterly floored by the stuff that’s being done with the NES these days, and I’m gonna be studying some of these for a long time, to try and absorb some of the cool tricks. I’m honored to share a hobby with musicians who are so talented.
Here are five songs that I’ve released or performed, but have not put up on my site for one reason or another — a couple of them are several years old, but you might never have heard them! I’ve put them in the regular music listing, but also collected them here for your convenience: