Justin Leo Kennedy
Live Electronic Musician | Composer | Producer
Live Electronic Music
I've been performing live electronic music internationally for almost 15 years. I'm equally comfortable performing in commercial and academic styles. In my live set, I utilize popular tools like laptop, MIDI keyboard, launchpad, and analog synths as well as non-traditional input methods like motion sensors and QR code trackers, mapping the data from those sources to control parameters of virtual instruments and audio plug-ins. I am a seasoned Ableton Live and Max for Live user. My go-to digital instruments include Serum, Massive, Cherry Voltage, Spitfire, and EastWest. Click here for full-length solo, ensemble, and networked audio performances.
Accessible Music Technology
I conduct research in the field of accessible music technology, finding ways to interface face- and eye-tracking software with analog hardware. In 2022, I was Artist in Residence with the Phonos Foundation in Barcelona. I worked in collaboration with the EyeHarp Association and performer Joel Bueno as I composed a new piece entitled Circles & Circuits. Gil Dori, who is EyeHarp's Creative Director, and I programmed and patched a system enabling Joel to control RSF Kobol Expander I & II and Moog Werkstatt-01 analog synthesizers through the use of EyeHarp's gaze-based interface.
The synths were routed into a 5.1 system for the studio recording. I mixed the audio for this video down to stereo, but used a binaural panner in the middle section to maintain the sense of "swirling circles" felt in the 5.1 version. In addition to composing, programming, and producing for this project, I also performed the filter sweeping bass synthesizer part, using the EyeHarp UI to control a low-pass filter cutoff.
In Harmony - Interactive Media Installation
Tetra String Quartet - Sønderho Bridal Trilogy part II (360º Video/audio)
8-Bit Dynamic Notification Sound Effects
Interactive Media & Spatial Audio
I have worked professionally on multiple projects involving spatial audio and various types of interactive media (installations, VR, video games, etc.).
While working for Baltu Studios, I led a team that created an interactive ambisonic installation at the i.d.e.a. Museum of Mesa, AZ. In addition to leading the project, I did sound design, composition, computer programming, and concept design work for it.
Beyond installations, I've done post-pro work on 360 films, VR apps, and games. My field experience informs my game audio research, which I've presented at the GameSoundCon.
Composing & Production
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.
As demonstrated in my composition and live electronic music reels, I can write and produce a wide range of commercial styles, having done client work in cyberpunk, new age, and R&B. I am also classically trained in chamber and orchestral composition. I have performances and publications in that areas as well. For instance, my acoustic work 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.
Justin Leo Kennedy is a composer, producer, and live electronic musician. He currently works as Assistant Professor of Music Technology at Western Carolina University, where he directs the Velocitties Music Technology Ensemble and teaches private lessons in Performance Technology, a 3-year curricular sequence he designed. He also serves as Co-Coordinator of WCU's Commercial Music & Audio Production (CMAP) program.
Dr. Kennedy has been invited to play music at the Spoleto Festival (Italy), SEAMUS Conference (Georgia), MUSLAB Festival (Mexico), and on Fox 10 News. His work has been aired on Arizona PBS and heard at venues such as Disneyland, Hamburger Sprechwerk (Germany), and the Naru Arts Center (South Korea). His composition Circles & Circuits is scheduled to air this summer on BBC Radio 3 as part of a documentary on music and machines.
Justin’s pieces for electronics and Mongolian-inspired vocalizations 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. He picked up a music theory minor during his undergraduate studies.
Prior to academic employment, Justin worked full-time in the commercial market as Creative Director at Baltu Technologies. In addition to carrying out directorship duties, he composed music and did sound design for VR games and installations. He also did concept design work and wrote code.
Believing technology should be for everyone, Justin helps maintain a list of affordable software for producers. His current research is anchored in accessible music technology, exploring control possibilities of audio hardware and analog devices through the use of face- and eye-tracking software.
Justin’s mother gifted him his first beret when he was sixteen. He wears berets in performance as a way of carrying his family with him onstage.
Press & Appearances
Felixstowe Radio, Felixstowe, England, guest on radio show named "DiscoverABILITY."
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.
Image from Performance on Fox 10 News.
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.