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Successful composer celebrates inclusion with Queensland Museum

Jase Ess is a successful composer who has featured in the ARIA charts, and a multi-award-winning instructional designer and voice actor. The SAE Adelaide grad discussed his latest collaboration at the Queensland Museum with artist, Shannon Novak which celebrates inclusion in the LGBTIQA+ community. It is part of the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT:10), which runs until 25 April 2022.
Queensland Museum - Successful composer Jase Ess

Hi Jase, congratulations on your latest composition, Currents, which features at the Queensland Museum as part of the Biological Exuberance installation. Can you explain a bit about it?

Yes, it’s a collaboration that I did with a visual artist from New Zealand, Shannon Novak. We met 11 years ago when I was working in Auckland at the time, and became friends as creatives with a similar outlook on life. Shannon is an LGTBIQA+ activist, so a lot of his work focuses on the challenges of that community.

The Queensland Museum commissioned Shannon to produce a six-part collection called Biological Exuberance, that highlights and reflects LGBTIQA+ people in the state. I was delighted to be able to join Shannon and create the music for the The Modern Family component of the collection, which I have named Currents (Beauty in Ambiguity).

Can you explain the inspiration behind Currents?

There’s a transitional space between the Queensland Museum and QAGOMA where three humpback whales have been suspended from the ceiling, in this area is some of Shannon’s colourful artwork. My job was to create a reflection based on that work.

Humpback whales are monomorphic, meaning if you see a humpback whale out in the ocean, you can’t tell whether they’re male or female.

This space in the museum is shared by both adults and children, so I wanted to create something that felt like you were on an underwater magical adventure with the humpback whales.

Currents was born. It incorporates whale call sounds and underwater effects – I like to think of it as an underwater musical soundscape.

Why did you choose to call it Currents?

It was a bit of a play on a few ideas. Firstly, it’s underwater so it’s a reflection of monomorphic creatures, and as both humans and animals in nature, we’re constantly evolving, and things are always changing. Sometimes you may not completely understand what you’re looking at, but you can still appreciate the beauty within it.

Having worked in audio and education for the past 25 years, how do these two industries overlap?

Working in adult learning, especially in the e-learning space, there’s a lot of voiceover work. I’ve been able to incorporate my voiceover and professional work as a learning designer.

One of my e-learning creations in 2016, won a LearnX Award for Best Audio, so I’ve been quite fortunate that my passion for audio and music has intertwined for so many years.

Jase Ess

What was your experience studying at SAE like?

I graduated with a Diploma of Music (Electronic Music Production). I had an amazing time at SAE Adelaide – it has a great name in the industry, which has been really beneficial in my career.

Being able to work with a lot of other like minded people made a big difference, because I surrounded myself with people who were passionate about the same thing and were all committed to the learning journey.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I am in the final stages of mixing and mastering a three track EDM project of songs I have written and sung on, which reflects my early days of being a club DJ. This project is called ‘Wildcard’ and will be coming out later this year.

I’ve got a classical crossover meets hip-hop album coming out, which I’m currently mastering. Think big film score sounds, like Hans Zimmer meets Ólafur Arnalds.

Lastly, I’m working with Andrew Devlin, a fellow SAE graduate who I connected with during my diploma. We’ve created a group called 2 Tone Heart, which makes music combining pop with a 70s and 80s sound to it. Our first single was mastered in New York, and we’ve got another six tracks in the pipeline, which is really exciting.

Find out more about Jase’s latest music on his website.

Male student working on a Neve Audio desk

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