Meeting Charlie Jones, a curious audio/video creative

Recently I (virtually) met Charlie Jones, a gifted person with diverse talents for all things music and video, intense interests in movies and video games, and passion for exploring his creative limits — if those even exist. He’s a really nice guy and so very humble. I’m so glad I got the chance to meet him and interview him.

EG: Who is Charlie? Where are you from?

CJ: Charlie is an audio/video creative and endlessly curious connoisseur of life. Raised in the small town of Eaton, NY, I attended St. Lawrence University for a bachelor’s in Music and Computer Science, and am currently living in Ithaca, NY.

EG: It seems to me that you’re talented in a lot of different ways. What kinds of things are you interested in? What are your hobbies?

CJ: Artistically, my main creative hobbies have been, for many years, music and video. Beginning in high school and growing throughout college, I participated in a number of bands and ensembles, and in my down time have always tried to writing my own music. Growing up, I believe the greatest influence on my musical sensibilities was video game music, and that influence has carried with me throughout my life, as I’ve always had a emotional connection with the music itself (I’ve never really paid attention to lyrics, until recently). So when I began really getting into playing music and learning that I could actually create something, I became enamored with the idea of exploring and manifesting my own emotion through sound. And these sensibilities carried over to my passion for video when I began a deep dive discovering film during college. The fact that movies could be more than just straight forward storytelling, it could be an emotional experience of visual stimulation drenched in atmosphere and fantastical imagery with complex structures and challenging or minimal narratives, blew me away and I was hooked. As I began making my own videos and learning how to edit, the ideas started to flow on how I could express myself through this medium as well.

The first project that really brought those two passions together is my solo effort, Clouds Echo, which began about six years ago. I wanted to explore the possibilities of live perform-able ambient music composition that had equal parts improvisation and structure. While I was working on my first concrete piece, I had some pretty solid imagery floating in my mind connecting to it. The end result was “2AM”, which I released in 2014, in both audio and video form. Since then, I’ve released another single with video, shared several noise experiments on SoundCloud, and performed a handful of small house shows. Although progress has been slow, it’s an introspective space that I feel the most at home in and think is the best representation of myself so far. Undoubtedly I’ll be revisiting it soon.

I also enjoy Nintendo everything, animation, graphic novels, road trips, and outdoor adventures!

EG: What inspires you to keep creating?

CJ: It may sound a bit cliche, but I’m continually inspired by the world around me; things I see, things I hear, things I experience, people I meet, etc. And I’m inspired by all the art I consume; music, movies, video games, books, etc. I find myself thinking deeply, probably too deeply, about simple things happening around me, and it will spark an idea, an emotion, a connection that will take off and I’ll be inspired to figure out how to express it, to try to capture it and make sense of it.

Photo by Erin Farrell

EG: Tell me about Hoarder Nights, your podcast.

CJ: So Hoarder Nights is a music show aimed to curate the late night listening experience. It’s basically a radio show, but instead of being confined to the traditional radio format, I wanted it to have the freedom to become whatever it became, with no expectation of a set time or structure, and to allow experimentation in production. The digital/podcast method naturally fit the bill, also enabling easy sharing and on-demand listening. Then I created the website because I wanted the playlists to be easily accessible, especially while listening to an episode, and to create a hub where everything Hoarder Nights can exist. Not to mention I was looking to get my feet wet with website creation.

Its inception was inspired by so many different ideas, it’s hard to know where to start. My music collection had grown significantly since moving to Ithaca, so I was looking for an outlet to explore and tame it. There are countless unforgettable experiences I’ve had listening to music with my family and friends, especially late at night, and the imagery of these experiences and the places they occurred impacted me deeply. And I’ve always loved putting together mix CDs and playlists for myself and for friends, and I think this has been a way I express myself and feel I can connect with others.

EG: You recently turned 30! (Happy birthday!) What’s something you want to get accomplished in your thirties?

CJ: Thanks! I have a continually growing backlog of ideas for projects that I would like to pursue, most of them audio and video projects, so seeing as many of those come to fruition as I can handle is the ongoing effort. But I believe the most ambitious artistic goal of my thirties that I would like to tackle is to get into video game programming and creation. I’ve loved video games practically my entire life and they’ve had a gigantic influence on everything I do creatively. Especially within the last decade or so, watching the growth of the independent games scene and seeing what’s come out of it has been incredibly inspiring. So I would love to pursue gaming as the next creative outlet in my arsenal and explore its possibilities as a means of artistic expression.

EG: What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever gifted you?

CJ: Back in college, I hit a rough patch late in my freshman year and throughout my sophomore year. I was going through some major depression and struggled to keep going day to day. Luckily, I had some fantastic humans in my life to help me cope with it. One of those wonderful human beings was my mentor and adviser, Dr. Michael Farley, who gave me lots of great advice throughout my years at college, but the one piece that sticks out the most is, as he would tell me, “It’s going to be OK.” Simple, and perhaps that’s why I remember it so well (because normally I have a horrible memory when it comes to quotes), but at the same time it has shaped my general outlook on life. No matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets, it will get better and it will be ok, and you’ll be better for it. Old and wise now that I’m at the age of thirty, I can absolutely attest to that.

EG: Who are your favorite people to make music with?

CJ: Friends! Throughout high school, college, and my time in Ithaca, I’ve crossed paths with so many awesome musicians that are also just great human beings. And I think it’s easy to see why great musicians make great friends. They’re attentive and listen well to others, they’re open-minded, they’re respectful and humble, and they’re in it for the right reasons, to make art and have fun! And knowing people like that makes the process all that more enjoyable and satisfying.

EG: Who are some artists you’re dying to work with?

CJ: As I mentioned earlier, I love creating and collaborating with my friends, no matter what the medium is. Watching people in my life create and pursue what they’re passionate about is so inspiring. So if you’re reading this and you have an idea for a collaboration, get at me! I’m dying to work with you! Let’s do it! 😀

EG: What is on your plate right now creatively? Are you working on anything new?

CJ: Hoarder Nights is one of my main focuses right now. My goal is to keep on the regular schedule of every other week until at least the end of the year, and we’ll see how I feel about next year when it comes around lol. I’m finding it is a lot of work to keep up with it, perhaps more than I bargained for, but I do love it and I think sticking to the commitment for the entire year will be rewarding and fulfilling.

My other main focus is the band I’m in here in Ithaca, Kurt Riley. Kurt Riley is the main guy, the singing-songwriting-guitar-wielding-meta-pop-rock-god I’ve been playing with for the last year and a half. We’ve been playing full band electric shows and stripped down acoustic shows locally and around the state. It’s been an incredible opportunity to make music with Kurt and the fellas in the group and they’ve all become close friends. The experience has gotten me out of my shell and I’ve met some really amazing people along the way. We’re currently working on new material that will take the band in a more futuristic direction, and we have quite a number of shows coming up, starting in May, so that’s all very exciting.

In my spare time (if there’s any left!), I’ll be tinkering with Clouds Echo. I’ve picked up some new equipment recently, mostly for the band, but a few toys I’d like to ideally incorporate into the solo show, so I’m looking forward to working with those and getting to know them. And I’ve had a few ambitious ideas stewing in my head lately of a possible collaboration between Hoarder Nights and Clouds Echo, so stay tuned…

EG: What’s your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor?

CJ: Probably have to go with Cinnamon Buns, though Mint Chocolate Cookie is a real close second, and Half Baked is pretty awesome too.

EG: Anything else you’d like to add?

CJ: Thanks for reaching out and interviewing me! Here are a few links to the creative things I’m involved with:

You can also connect on Facebook and Instagram for most of those things! Thanks for listening!

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