An interview with Bentley Jones

Bentley Jones is a recording artist known for his contributions to the Sonic the Hedgehog series, including the theme for Silver the Hedgehog, “Dreams of an Absolution”.

Your first vocal contribution to the Sonic franchise, Dreams of an Absolution, is a fan favorite. With the abundance of remixes of this song, it’s clear that you’re particularly fond of the song. What sort of connection do you have with the song (be it emotional, professional, etc)?

I have a soft spot for “Dreams” because it was my first vocal theme for Sonic, so it’ll always have a place in my heart. I have an emotional connection to all the songs I write because I’ve always tried to write very honestly and openly and “Dreams” is no exception. I wrote it about a break-up I was going through at the time and I was crafty enough to make it sound like it was about Silver’s story too.

Bentley Jones in his home recording studio in 2019. (Facebook)

Speaking of Dreams of an Absolution remixes, there’s been a version of the song floating around called “Dreams of an Absolution (K-Klub Remix)”. Evidently, the song sounds unfinished since it ends rather abruptly. Was production of the remix never completed or was it simply not released?

Oh my gosh… it was so long ago… to be honest, I don’t fully remember!

You’ve participated in the convention Summer of Sonic a times. You performed unique versions of songs from the Sonic franchise (“Dreams of an Absolution ~Ballad Version”, “His World ~Reprise”, an acoustic version of Dreams of an Absolution, and a version of “Escape from the City”). Is there any chance for fans to receive studio versions of these tracks?

A studio version of “His World” was recorded and I believe (if I’m remembering correctly) it was available for limited download as it was the official theme of that year’s Summer of Sonic. I’d be up for recording “Escape from the City” if I found the time/opportunity and people wanted it.

Your covers of existing Sonic songs that appear on various soundtrack albums are some of my favorite parts of those albums, especially “Seven Rings in Hand ~Fairytales in Trance~”. How did these versions of these songs come to be? Were they commissions from SEGA or were there songs you presented to them?

They were commissions from SEGA. I was given free reign with “Seven Rings” and since the original was so high energy I wanted to try something different with a more chilled out version of it. It was fun to do!

Bentley Jones in his home recording studio in 2019. (Facebook)

How has your work with Sonic franchise influenced your current musical output?

I’ve had to learn to compartmentalise. Most of my work is in commercial music and for the longest time (and even now to some degree) the industry doesn’t consider video-game music very “cool”. My association with Sonic (and all my video-game scores) has sometimes been a hinderance to my commercial work, which is a shame… Sonic is a franchise that I love because I grew up with it. Since then I’ve kept these 2 aspects of my work very separate.

How does your success in Japan affect the way you compose music nowadays?

A lot of the music I compose is for Japan, so I have to keep in mind the Japanese sensibility to music. Sometimes the progressions have a little more of a jazz influence, and melodies tend to take the listener on a journey with peaks and breaks – which is something I love! With regards to productions and arrangements, people have said they like working with me because I can incorporate a lot of Western trends with my production style whilst taking a more Japanese approach to the composition at the same time.

If you could remix one song from the Sonic franchise right now, which one would it be?

Just one?? There’s so many!! If we’re talking classic Sonic then maybe something from Sonic 3 & Knuckles… if we’re talking vocal themes then perhaps something epic like “Live & Learn” or “What I’m Made Of”.

Your upcoming anniversary album is slated to have a new version of Dreams of an Absolution. What approach did you take to this version that differs from prior remixes?

I’ve been writing and producing for a lot of pop and electronic artists / bands recently… so I pretty much tried to create what “Dreams” should sound like in 2019. The style is very much in line with the rest of the album and I added in some symphonic elements for grandeur. “Dreams” was such a welcome addition to my anniversary celebrations that I really wanted this version to sound like a celebration of the song.

This interview was originally published by EmerlForgotten on 31 May 2019.

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