Justin Leo Kennedy
Composer | Producer | Electronic Music Performer
Live Electronic Music
I've been engaged in electronic music performance since 2009. I'm equally comfortable performing in commercial and academic styles. My principle tools include a laptop, a MIDI keyboard, a launchpad, analog synths, and gestural sound control devices. Ableton Live and Max for Live are my "go-to" software apps, along with popular plug-ins like Serum, NI Komplete, and Spitfire. I'm currently Director of WCU's Music Technology Ensemble and was previously Co-Director of the Laptop Orchestra of Arizona State. Feel free to view my reel to the right. Click here for full-length solo, ensemble, and networked audio performances.
Research & Scholarship
Currently, I conduct research in the field of accessible music technology, finding ways to interface face- and eye-tracking software with studio hardware. I was Artist in Residence with the Phonos Foundation (Barcelona) in February 2022. During that time I collaborated with the EyeHarp Association and performer Joel Bueno, composing and producing a piece entitled Circles & Circuits.
I'm also engaged in video game audio research. I've presented twice at the GameSoundCon. Click here to learn more about my game-focused work.
Composing & Arranging
I earned a doctorate in composition from Arizona State University, where I focused on composition for interactive media. I've worked in the commercial market as a composer, writing for indie games, films, and sound installations. I feel at home whether sequencing in a DAW, arranging for studio recording sessions, or orchestrating for the concert hall.
Sound synthesis is one of my primary compositional interests, both the academic study of it and its usage in various industry genres. I've done extensive work on analog keyboards, retro FM synths, euroracks, vintage modular systems, and popular wavetable VSTs.
The first six tracks of my reel are each in a different commercial style. The next five are mostly acoustic "classical" works. Though I am most often hired to make electronic music, I still pursue contemporary acoustic projects as well. My avant grade composition Funding Cut was included in Jean Ferris' textbook America's Musical Landscape (8th edition).
Click here to listen to full-length recordings, view complete scores, and see examples of notation work I've done using Finale, Sibelius, and Adobe Illustrator.
Sound Art & Installations
I have served on multiple sound installation teams, both in leadership and supporting roles. I specialize in designing interactive digital audio exhibits that utilize gestural sound control methods. I am comfortable working in surround sound, stereo, and ambisonic formats. My work has been shown at children's museums, fine arts museums, and various community centers. Many of the projects I've been involved in have been collaborations with engineers. These ventures yielded the creation of custom hardware and, in some cases, software applications. Click here to learn more.
Justin Leo Kennedy is a composer and producer specializing in electronic music performance. He is Assistant Professor of Music Technology at Western Carolina University, where he directs the Velocitties Ensemble and teaches private lessons in Performance Technology. Currently, he serves as Co-Coordinator of the WCU's Commercial Music & Audio Production (CMAP) program, which focuses on commercial performance, technology, and music business.
Dr. Kennedy has been invited to show his work at the Spoleto Festival (Italy), ISEA (Hong Kong), SEAMUS (Georgia), MUSLAB (Mexico), and more. His music has been heard at venues such as Disneyland, Hamburger Sprechwerk (Germany), and the Naru Arts Center (South Korea).
Justin's pieces for electronics and Mongolian-inspired vocalizations have earned him a selection as an Alternate for the Fulbright Fellowship, a Title VIII Fellowship, and Ventura's Endowment for the Arts. He holds BM, MM, and DMA degrees in music composition.
Prior to his academic employment, Justin worked full-time in the commercial market as Creative Director at Baltu Technologies, where he composed music for games, did sound design for VR applications, and programmed interactive media installations. He recently helped create a list of affordable software for producers. His current research endeavors are anchored in accessible music technology. In these pursuits, Justin explores control possibilities of audio hardware and analog devices through the use of face- and eye-tracking software.
Justin often gets asked about why he wears a beret. There's a simple answer: his mother. She gave him his first beret when he was 16 and he’s been wearing them since. Justin’s mom is an artist, his father is a software engineer, his wife is a cat lover, and his brother was an IT specialist. He is the sum of those parts: a computer music-making cat lover.
Press & Appearances
Felixstowe Radio, Felixstowe, England, guest on radio show named "DiscoverABILITY."February 2022.
Phonos Foundation, Barcelona, Spain, "Justin Kennedy in short residency to work with EyeHarp Technology." February 2022.
Arc Project Online Festival, "Composers & Technology Panel." December 18, 2021.
Star Wars Music Minute Podcast, guest on episode entitled "A New Hope: Laser Sword Sound Design." December 6, 2021.
Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, "Demystifying Gaming Audio: Sound Design Panel." November 13, 2020.
PhxMobi, Phoenix, AZ, "Phoenix Mobile and Emerging Tech Festival 2017." December 5, 2017.
New Classic LA, Los Angeles, CA, "Preview: CSULB Laptop Ensemble Comes to Tuesdays @ Monk Space This Week." Cristina Lord. January 23, 2017.
The State Press, Tempe, AZ, “Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble to Showcase Student-Written Pieces.” Skylar Mason. April 3, 2016.
KJZZ 91.5, Phoenix, AZ, “ASU Group Making Music ... With Laptops.” Mark Brodie. February 26, 2016.
MUSLAB, Mexico City, MX, Interview for “MUSLAB 2015.” Gabriela W. Pacheco, Maday G. Alfaro, Miguel A. Reyes, Pedro Castillo. February 9, 2016.
Fox 10 News, Phoenix, AZ, On-Air Television Interview with LORKAS. January 2, 2016.
MH Radio, Mexico City, MX, "La Muestra Internacional de Música Electroacústica 2015." Orlando Canseco. (article in Spanish). December 16, 2015.
The State Press, Tempe, AZ, “ASU’s Laptop Orchestra Challenges Conventional Approach to Music.” Isabella Castillo. November 22, 2015.
ASU Now, Tempe, AZ, “Laptop Orchestra Pushes Buttons and Boundaries.” Marshall Terrill. November 4, 2015
ArtWalk Ventura, Ventura, CA, “Artist Spotlight: Justin Kennedy.” July 17, 2015.
Kookmin University Press Release (article in Korean). August 5, 2013.
Bob Cole Conservatory News, Long Beach, CA, “Laptop Ensemble in Collaboration with Singing Actors Group from Seoul.” July 19, 2013.
Spoleto City, Spoleto, Italy, “Cole Laptop Ensambles di Los Angeles e Singing Actors.” (article in Italian). July 12, 2013.
CSULB Scholar of the Month Article, March 2013.