- Dj Samples
- Sony Creative Software
- Resident Adviser
What do Loopmasters, Sony Creative Software, Acoustica, Presonus, Sound Trends, Peace Love Productions, and Soundtrack Loops all have in common? Jason Donnelly ( Dj Puzzle) is the answer. Donnelly has produced over 30,000 loops and hundreds of loop packs for most of the world's largest sample companies. It's very likely you've heard Donnelly's music and or sounds already whether you realise it or not. His sounds are heard in TV ads, video games, and TV shows.
He has spun records for many years in the Chicagoland area and in Madison Wi but his focus is on music production. His most recent accomplishments include a new set of loops for Sony Creative called Dj Puzzle: Dubstep Complete and Nu Retro but producing loops is not all he does. He also composes library music for APM in Hollywood. His House song "Class Soiree" can be heard in an episode of popular IFC television series "Portlandia" and his tune Clubland appears in the popular video game Saints Row The Third.
Gear Nord Lead 2x, Virus TI2, Moog Voyager, iPad w/ Alesis iO Dock, MicroX Korg
HISTORY: I grew up listening to Djs on 102.7 WBMX (Chicago) back in the early 80s specifically the Hot Mix Five. My friends and I would tape the mixes every Friday and Saturday night and then meet and discuss what songs we liked and which Djs were our favorite. This was pretty much the only way I could have access to such music because I was much too young to go to clubs and underground parties. I was also very poor as a child. My mother passed giving birth to me and my dad snapped because of it. So you see we never really had stability in our lives which led to not having much money. Anyway long story short, I asked him for a set of turntables and a mixer for my 13th b day and he bought me a $150 Les Paul knock off from the Trading Times. The guitar it self was quite unique as it had an effects processor built in. Effects like distortion, delay, chorus, and flange were all accessible via these tiny little buttons under the volume and tone knobs. This intrigued me so I spent my time learning the guitar. I did not give up on Djing though. I had a crusty old turntable that I used to practice scratching. I put a paper towel down and cut the corners off to create a make shift scratch pad. My first Dj record was Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three - The Roof Is On Fire. Still have it to this day. So you see I was now influenced by both heavy Rock music and House music. My Rock friends all gave me shit for listening to Dance music but I didn't care. I then got a job as a mobile Dj in 1994 and worked three days each week to make ends meet. I could tell you stories from that whole experience but this interview would become a novel in a matter of minutes :P In 1998 I got a job at Sonic Foundry in Madison WI as an audio editor. I was then fired December of 2000 and rehired as a freelancer. They also commissioned me to produce all of the content for Acid Dj 3.0 which was then released to stores like Best Buy and Computer Discount Warehouse all over the US. The gig paid quite well, almost a whole year's salary for about a month and a half's worth of work.
So I must take it back a bit to explain some things. In 1988 (age 14) I visited a little music store in Mt. Prospect Illinois called The Sound Post. My curiosity brought me in to the keyboard room and with my informal training on Piano I plunked a few chords out on every synth. They all had the most wonderful sounds. I had already been a fan of Chicago House producers such as Adonis and Steve Silk Hurley and popular Synth Pop groups such as Depeche Mode and Heaven 17 so the idea of composing music with synthesizers was more than welcome in my mind. My Grandmother loaned me the money to purchase my very first Synth and Drum Machine and so I worked at the local White Hen with permit to pay it off.
I ended up getting a job at that very same music store 3 years later and went to school for 2 hours each day and worked the rest of the school day by means of the High School's work program. The work program allowed me to gain the credits required to complete my senior year and graduate.
I then continued to take out loans and upgrade my equipment and before you knew it I was using a Tascam 8 Track and an Apple PC with sequencing software, Opcode's Vision in specific. My friends were all extremely impressed with my skills and knowledge as I continued to progress.
At age 20 I picked up and moved from Jefferson Park in Chicago to Huntington Beach California and struggled to make it there and returned shortly after my 21st birthday.
I worked as a temp and in corporate offices for a couple of years before getting a job as a mobile Dj which lead me to quit my other jobs and just work on the weekends Dj-ing weddings.
Times were getting tough so a friend, and artist whom I was producing at the time Thomas Carlyle Aires (Arcanta), hooked me up with a job in the shipping department at Projekt Records. I worked there for seven dollars per hour until I spotted an ad in the Chicago Reader for a sales position at a little music store called zZounds Music Discovery Center. Amazingly I got the job. This was a major turning point in my life and the beginning of my music career.
zZounds (now an internet giant) was an interesting little mom and pop store. It was started by an ex-attorney for Jenner and Block named Ray Worthy Campbell. Ray's vision was to open a music store for his kids so they could be exposed to music and have a fun place to practice and explore music as well. I sold midi equipment, software, and taught the occasional student who signed up for my Intro To Electronic Music Composition lessons.
Ray sent me to Nashville in 1998 for the Summer NAMM convention and that is where the story really unfolds. I stopped by a demonstration at the Sonic Foundry booth and listened to their sales rep demonstrate the latest version of Sonic Foundry's ACID Pro. We had already sold ACID version 1.0 at zZounds and I of course was amazed at what this program could do simply because there was absolutely nothing else like it and it certainly was a total dream come true. After the demonstration they announced that they were hiring and if interested they were to speak with a representative back stage. I was the first and only person to respond which almost made it seem as though it was meant to be.
I could hardly wait to return home because the meeting went well and my hopes were high. I followed through with every step immediately upon my arrival in Chicago and to no avail received a phone call from Mike Scheibinger at zZounds of all places, how nerve racking. Mike was interested and eager to meet and interview me at the Madison Wisconsin home base.
My experience in Madison was almost dream like. Mike let me stay at his house the night before the interview, not even knowing who I was. He had a wife, daughter, and a dog all living in a humble home in Cottage Grove Wisconsin. Everyone was so friendly and generous. I awoke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the wet nose of a dog sniffing my face. Mike drove us to Sonic Foundry and we hung out all day interviewing.
My bus ride back to Chicago was not easy to tolerate as I was completely excited about the possibility of working for such a cool company. One hour into my ride home and my mobile rings. I answer it and it's Sonic Foundry's Human Resources telling me I got the job.
I worked at Sonic Foundry for about two years editing and ACIDizing loops, making demo songs, preparing remix contests for ACIDplanet.com, and scoring advertisements. Some of my most adored accomplishments were helping to develop ACIDplanet.com, scoring and producing the Acid MTV commercial, writing the script and music for the Chicago B96 Acid radio commercial, editing the content and preparing samples for the Beck and Beastie Boys remix contests for ACIDplanet.com, and and demoing products at Peter Gabriel's WOMAD tour in Seattle. Working at Sonic Foundry was such a great experience and I learned so much but it was too good to be true. The company went public and became a huge success until the market crash winter of 2000. This is when 200 hundred employees including myself lost our jobs on Christmas weekend do to company downsizing.
Luckily Mike kept me busy with freelance work. I produced all of the loops for ACID Dj 3.0 which was developed specifically to sell at Best Buy and Computer Discount Warehouse nation wide. Sonic Foundry sold it's software and media to Sony.
I then continued to produce 6 more loop CDs for Sony Media Software but this didn't pay the bills so I decided to start my own business producing royalty free loops for ACID and Soundtrack.
The company is called Peace Love Productions. The name was inspired by the conflicts in Iraq. I've been running PLP for ten years from today and it has been a very fruitful experience. I feel blessed every day when I think about how it has helped me to grow as a person both creatively , mentally, and spiritually.
The process was challenging. I taught myself web design and programming by means of the internet. I also had to learn how to market products with very little to fund them. I built PLP up from the ground up and then sold it to a larger company. I still ran PLP under contract for a couple years after that. Since then I've started a couple new sites and labels. I'm still producing loops for Sony Creative. I have a massive release coming out called Dj Puzzle : Dubstep Complete by Sony Creative. I also just licensed hundreds of my loops to Acoustica so they can bundle them with their program Mixcraft 6 when it is officially announced. My sounds are also bundle with Presonus' Studio One Version 2.
I'm usually working on new songs for my publishing company when I'm not working on loops. We recently moved to Los Angeles and I'm really digging it although I'd love to get out and play my stuff live. Still looking for the right MC. Really enjoying life right now as my day is basically all music all the time.