Breaking Barriers in Sound Design with Emmy Nominee Jeremy S. Bloom

Posted on: Mar 07, 2024

Photo Credit: Impact24PR

By Steffanie Bradley

Jeremy S. Bloom is an Emmy-nominated sound designer from Brooklyn, NY. His work focuses on crafting immersive story-driven soundscapes for podcasts, interactive installations, films and theatrical productions internationally.

Jeremy’s work includes originally commissioned immersive installations for the Statue of Liberty Museum, the Planet Word Museum of Linguistics, Manchester United, Spectrum Cable, AUDI, TBS, the Tenement Museum. He’s also done design for critically acclaimed documentaries Hail Satan? (Magnolia), FYRE (Netflix), Tiger (HBO) and more. Other collaborations include projects with Google, Netflix, CNN Films and others.

Jeremy is a staff sound designer for WNYC Studio’s critically acclaimed podcast Radiolab and previously contributed sound design and original music for the award-winning Queer podcast Nancy and comedy-hit Two Dope Queens. He took time to share stories with us about how he got into sound design and what he recommends for those interested in the field.

How did you come upon that career path?

I’m a lifelong musician. In college I studied political science of all things, but my campus job was as a carpenter for the drama department. I never took a theater class or anything like that, but I was kind of in with the theater community at my school. They knew me as a musician. I think they saw me playing my accordion on the quad at some point.

How did playing instruments lead into sound design?

I started my career doing theater, and at a certain point I realized that “Oh, you know what I’m doing here? Using sound to further a story or using sound to transport an audience into a different place.” I realized that I was really lucky in that it’s one of the few jobs maybe, where that can be applied to many different industries. Brands are looking to do that with their products and transport the user of a product into a certain world.

In all of them, you’re using sound to build an environment. You’re using sound to emotionally transplant an audience, and really, all you need to learn is the kind of technical differences of the mediums that you’re working in. I learned a ton about telling a story with sound constrained to the frame of a film and using that in museums. I try to research the world that we’re depicting. Chances are, there’s something that I don’t know about it that I will learn, that will heavily inform the soundscape that we make together.

How do you hone your craft?

I teach at NYU. When I started teaching, I started thinking about this more and making it less internalized and more thinking about how it comes together. I can break your question down into two real answers.

I see a lot of people who are early in their careers or a lot of people who, when they’re looking for inspiration, are only turning to the medium that they’re working in. I encourage people to be aware of what’s going on in other films because you’re in cultural conversation with them. 

I think the sound kind of lives within the story already—it lives within the script. As a designer or as a director thinking about the sound design, your job is to uncover what’s already there. Sit with a story and ask it questions like, “Okay, what’s beyond the words?” 

Is there a project where you learned a lot or that you’re particularly proud of?

I learn a ton from every single project I do, and that’s what keeps me going and that’s what I really love about this work. Recently, I sound designed an IMAX film called Deep Sky. It’s about NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

I was invited to do that by Robert Hein, supervising sound editor at Harbor. That was a great example of learning all this technical information about the telescope itself, the pictures it’s capturing and about space and science and taking that and figuring out how to translate it into tangible kinds of sounds. 

This film was very unique in that it was essentially commissioned for science centers around the world. At present, it’s only playing on IMAX screens, so we could take full advantage of the immersive capabilities of IMAX.

Is there a dream project on your list?

Yes. The Sphere in Las Vegas. It’s a really exciting new format. It’s kind of like the biggest, blankest canvas you could paint on, but one that integrates all the senses. The sound system is called the HOLOPLOT. It’s really on the threshold of technology, it can beam sounds to discrete places in air. 

You can be walking through a silent space and then you cross into its beam. It’s highly focused and targeted and can make it feel like you’re passing through a jungle and then you leave it and the sound stops when you pass out of an area.

What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in sound design?

I really like to encourage people to find peers that they respect, who are at the same point of their career as you might be. Go through your network of friends and ask, “Is there anybody who’s making a game or short film I could work with?” 

The awards come and go and are fleeting. The prestige of an audience watching a thing is exciting in the moment, but it wears away. The most rewarding things are the collaborations you have and the people that you meet. 

In terms of sound design, you really have to observe and listen to the world. Spend time outside. How [are sounds] different after it rains than before it rains? How are [sounds] different through the seasons? Listen to your city. A great way to listen is to practice field recording. There are very affordable handheld recorders that are perfectly sufficient.

What can we look forward to from you next?

There’s an audio drama that I worked on called Hot White Heist. It’s an amazing, queer audio drama with the most incredible cast—Bowen Yang, Cynthia Nixon, Jane Lynch.

During the pandemic we released season 1 and it’s one of the most creatively challenging projects for me—in a good way. The writer, Adam Goldman, is a creative genius who really pushed me as a sound designer to depict all sorts of crazy stuff through sound. Season 2 is now available on Audible.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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