An Interview with Jeff Clement of the NoSleep Podcast

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Photo courtesy of Jeff Clement

As we continue on with our NoSleep series of interviews, we have with us today, voice actor, producer, YouTuber, musician, audio mixer and much, much more, Jeff Clement!

Having been with the show since 2014, Jeff has lent his voice and talent to the show since then, helping with voice acting and as his main role of audio producer. Jeff works with Brandon Boone to bring the stories to life with mixing and mastering the audio and adding sound effects, music, and specialization.

Jeff is one of the last cogs in the machine before the final product hits our ears. At the time of this writing you can listen to his latest voice acting in the story “Look Behind You” from Season 16 Episode 13.

Anthony:
Jeff! Thank you so much for joining us in our NoSleep Podcast series of interviews. It’s truly a pleasure to have you with us among the other many talented people we have! How have the past couple of years been treating you during this seemingly never-ending dumpster fire?

Jeff:
Hi, Happy to be here! The last couple years have been treating me well, actually. I was one of the lucky ones during the pandemic who could work from home full-time and I’ve been loving that because I get to be home all the time with my family. I can also switch gears from the day job to the podcast quickly so I can pace myself work-wise a little better than I was before.

Anthony:
Before we get started, let’s get to know you a bit first. Who are you and where are you from? What were you doing before you became a part of the NoSleep crew?

Jeff:
Well, my name is Jeff Clement and I’m from Ontario, Canada, currently living not too far from the podfather himself, Mr. David Cummings! 

I’ve dabbled on and off with digital music since 1996 and self published a concept album from my parent’s basement in 1998. After that, I took on any composing roles I could in student and indie film projects during my college years and had the opportunity to help score a few different small films.

I created my own YouTube channel in 2013 where I make audio productions with dramatic performances of horror stories; short fiction and monologues; remixes and cover songs; original music and game playthroughs. 

The channel has always been a pet project and not a super serious pursuit, but it caught the attention of Craig Groshek, owner of the popular Chilling Tales for Dark Nights YouTube channel. He liked my cinematic approach to audio horror and invited me on as an audio producer for his channel. I worked as Executive Producer alongside Craig and my NoSleep colleague Jesse Cornett from 2013-2016. I learned so much about so many aspects of digital entertainment, audio production and voice acting there and became good friends with some very talented people.

Anthony:
Much like many of the others we’ve interviewed so far, you also have a background in many other things and are quite the accomplished content creator. You’re a man of many hats, aside from NoSleep, what else are you a part of that you’d like to share with us?

Jeff:
I’m a bit of a jack of all trades in that respect: I do web design and development, graphic design, video editing, voice acting, audio editing, sound design, sound mixing and mastering, and music composition. Aside from my YouTube channel and my involvement with Chilling Tales I’ve been a contributor to several other podcasts such as The White Vault, Congeria, Small Town Horror, Less is Morgue, Sirenicide, Simply Scary Podcast, Alexandria Archives, The Oyster, The Hidden Frequencies and Liberty: Vigilance. I’ve also had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing musicians like CRUX and Edvin Camema who have featured my voice in their music.

Anthony:
You’ve been a part of NoSleep for quite some time and do so much for the show. How did you become a part of the show and what are your roles?

Jeff:
I debuted with NoSleep in 2014 when I performed and produced “Dust” by Cameron Suey in S04E03. David and I had collaborated previously in a couple of Chilling Tales for Dark Nights productions and he was gracious enough to allow me to contribute to his show. For the next couple seasons I contributed on and off on several productions. I joined NoSleep fully when I was transitioning away from my role with Chilling Tales in 2016 and I’ve been a voice actor and producer on the show ever since! 

I love contributing whenever possible as a voice actor and love to perform. My primary role on the show, however, is that of audio producer. I’m responsible for taking all the vocal files from the various actors featured in a project, editing their audio, cleaning it up, and assembling it into a multi-track mix. From there, I put on my sound designer hat and add in sound effects, foley, ambience and spatialization. Once Brandon, our composer, has completed his score for the story he passes it to me and I mix it into the production. Finally, I master and publish the finished production and send it off to David to include it in the episode.

Anthony:
Following up on my last question:
Do you make any of the sound effects yourself as some horror movies do, or do you have a database or library of sorts with pretty much everything you need?

Jeff:
Almost always I use sound effect libraries for my samples. Though I do heavily edit those and combine them to create new sounds. I do record the odd bit of foley here and there. It’s something I want to do more of in the future when I’m able to.

Anthony:
So, you’re also a composer for the show, do you work with Brandon Boone? What parts of the show do you compose vs what Brandon Boone does?

Jeff:
I’m only a composer in the loosest terms. I’ve composed music for only a small handful of stories since I started with NoSleep, mostly from productions I had created outside of the podcast which were featured by David on the show, like the Danny’s Story series. I do sometimes create “dietetic” music (music that’s part of a setting), like a track that would be played at a nightclub in a story. Other than that, it’s all Brandon. The guy is a prolific composer and absolutely the heart and soul of the show. He’s what gives NoSleep its signature sound. Collaborating with him every week is a real pleasure and one of my favorite parts of the job.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Clement

Anthony:
On your musician side, what kind of music do you perform? What instruments do you play?

Jeff:
I’m pretty firmly rooted in Electronic music (Electronica, New Wave, Trance, House, Big Beat, Industrial, etc) and I like Rock or a combination of the two. I especially like Electronic music that features an orchestra, probably because I love things that sound cinematic. I primarily play guitar, though I can also play a bit of piano.

Anthony:
One of my favorite questions to ask here, what equipment do you use to record? I love learning about all the different stuff people use to record!

Jeff:
Recording: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Harlan Hogan’s Porta-Booth Plus isolation shield.

Microphones: CAD E100s (my primary mic), AKG C1000 S (desktop recording & streaming).

Monitoring: Mackie MAMR5MK3K studio monitors, Sennheiser HD 558 headphones.

Mixing: Cockos Reaper (my primary DAW), Adobe Audition.

MIDI: Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61.

Anthony:
What draws you to the horror genre? What are some of your favorite genres and subgenres? What does horror mean to you? Lastly, what are your favorite ways to consume horror?

Jeff:
I think what draws me to horror is that I’ve always had a preference for storytelling that’s on the darker side. Almost all the classic stories and movies I grew up with had an element of horror to them. I love being scared and unsettled by a good story. 

To me, horror is a remarkable super-genre in the sense that it is so vast you can tell literally any kind of story within it: survivalist, sci-fi, western, drama, romance, comedy, historical, action, you name it! I especially love that while horror stories can be intense and dark and terrifying, the very best ones are about the human condition and have an emotional core to them that everyone can relate to. Horror can be gruesome, nasty, evil. But it can also be beautiful, touching, moving. I love that. And now more than ever horror is becoming inclusive and diverse. More and more BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ storytellers are enriching the genre and taking it in new directions.

The thing I think many non-horror fans don’t get is they only see titillation and camp and consider it a lesser form of genre storytelling. While those things are definitely fun, just like any literary genre, horror can be really complex; loaded with metaphor, symbolism, satire, and it can say really deep things between the lines. I think our podcast does a really good job of showcasing the whole spectrum of horror storytelling.

I really enjoy the works of short fiction from the many talented authors we work with, but my favorite ways to consume horror are video games and especially movies. Doesn’t matter how trashy or high-brow; I love movies and I especially love horror movies. While there’s a lot of great podcasts out there, for me, movies are what informs my approach to how I produce audio horror the most.

Anthony:
Horror seems to come and go in waves and it seems we may be seeing a resurgence of the genre. How do you feel about the current state of horror? For me, it seems very formulaic and unoriginal. Not to say reboots, remakes and sequels are a bad thing, but it’s the originality of NoSleep that keeps me coming back every week.

Jeff:
I actually think we’re in a new golden era of horror movies, TV, and online storytelling. Especially when talking about streaming services and the vast array of options we now have! Sure, there are some unoriginal duds and remakes out there, but that just goes with the territory. 

It’s remarkable that living here in Canada we can consume totally original horror content from places like Korea, Iceland, Indonesia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Thailand, Germany, Ireland and so many more. Growing up the only way you’d ever see stuff like that is from limited repertory cinemas or maybe a really good out-of-the-way video store. Good luck finding that in small-town Ontario! Throw podcasts into the mix and now it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, everyone can enjoy remarkable, original horror storytelling. And it’s only getting more diverse and sophisticated, I think.

Anthony:
What are your favorite types of characters to play on the show? Is it easy for you to get into the mindset needed for certain characters or narrations? Are there any voice actors or narrators you look up that inspire any of your work?

Jeff:
My favorite characters are ones that have strong personalities. I LOVE playing villains. I also really enjoy playing characters that have distinctive voices. Whether or not I’m successful at it, I really enjoy playing around with vocal tones, manners of speaking, lisps and other affectations. I try to let the story tell me how to play a character. I think of their motivations, their history, what their day to day life might be and try to find the sound of their voice through how the story is written. And then I just play pretend. That’s the best thing about being a voice actor. It’s like putting on a costume and being another person for a little while. 

There are a bunch of voice actors I really like. Robert Paulsen, Steve Blum, Dave Fennoy, Nolan North, Phil LaMar, Clancy Brown and Troy Baker are just a few. Kristen Schaal is hilarious. Mark Hamill is a bloody chameleon, he’s so good. I admire their work very much and I always enjoy when I can pick them out in a movie or a show I’m watching. I think I lean towards Troy Baker more than most. He’s got this very naturalistic, dynamic way of acting and isn’t afraid to get really quiet and emotional. Performances like his role of Joel in The Last of Us really show how subtle and nuanced you can be as a voice actor. You don’t have to go big all the time.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Clement

Anthony:
Having been on the show for so long, what are some of your favorite memories working with NoSleep? What was it like watching it grow to what it is now?

Jeff:
Some of my favorite memories are being able to participate in a few live shows during the NoSleep Live tours of 2017 and 2018. I got to go on stage and perform alongside my colleagues to packed houses and it was amazing. The 2017 live show was extra cool because we got to visit LA and perform at the famous Largo Theatre where we got to meet horror director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House) and his wife Kate Siegel (Hush, The Haunting of Hill House) at the show. I also got to perform at two shows here in Toronto and seeing that many Canadian NoSleep Podcast fans in one place was really awesome.

Another favorite memory is the Season 13 premiere when I had the opportunity to work with Elijah Wood for the story “Shreds” by D. Williams. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with a few different celebrities in the past, but Elijah is one of my personal favorites. He and I are the same age and I’ve watched him grow up in the movies as I was growing up. And of course, as a massive Tolkien fan, working with Frodo Baggins himself was a dream come true! On top of that, Elijah is a huge horror aficionado and even runs his own production company called SpectreVision that is helping make some of the coolest horror movies around these days. Fun fact: he asked to be part of the show because he’s a big NoSleep Podcast fan. How crazy is that?

Watching the podcast grow over the last 7 years that I’ve been involved has been surreal. The show has always had really loyal and avid fans, but when you’re heads-down for so long making the show it’s easy to lose track of how much it’s been growing. Just the fact that David was able to quit his day job and do the podcast full time is a huge achievement, but he’s gone even further to include three full-time producers (myself included), an executive administrator, a full-time composer, a content manager, an editorial department and a full roster of voice actors and illustrators, all of whom are paid for what they do. From humble origins, the NoSleep Podcast is now a full-fledged brand. That’s mind-blowing to me. I’m so proud of what David and the team have accomplished over the past 10 years.

Anthony:
With about a dozen episodes out so far for season 16, what have been some of your favorite stories thus so far? If at all possible, what are some of your favorite stories altogether?

Jeff:
Some of my favorites from Season 16 have been “Manifestation” written by Morgan Koch, “The Black Silo” written by Blair Wolff, “The Hole in the Great Grass Sea” by L.P. Hernandez, “Final Investment” written by Melissa Mason, “I Will Always Love You” written by Veronica Carhill and “Sirens” written by Bill Schwarz. The writing for all of those is just so great and some of them are among my strongest productions to date from a technical level.

Some of my favorite stories altogether is a tougher question because there’s been just so, so many. “The Crawling House on Black Pond Road” written by William Dalphin is an oldie but a goodie. “Toothache” written by Carlos Rivera is one of the best vampire short stories ever. “Correspondence://” by bloodstains was a great early example of just what a great performer and producer David Cummings is. “Blue Ridge” by C.K. Walker will always be dear to me because it’s my first major NoSleep production. “Mummer Man” by David Sharrock stands out as one of the trippiest stories we’ve done. The entire “Dearest Summer” series by Marcus Damanda is just so, so good and some of the most challenging work I’ve done for the show. Henry Galley’s “The Eastwoods” is another favorite because it’s essentially Helm’s Deep but with a family of frontier women fighting an army of zombies. “Danny’s Story” by M.J. Pack, of course. “Sisters in the Snow” by James Dominguez is a great emotional gut-punch. Gosh, there’s just too many to name!

Anthony:
Being in music yourself, do you collect any music on vinyl, cassettes, CDs, tapes or are you all digital? Who are some of your favorite artists and albums?

Jeff:
I have two boxes totaling about 200-ish CDs. I digitized them all just so it’s easier to listen to them. I grew up in the 80s and 90s so my musical preferences are pretty firmly rooted in those eras. My favorite artist overall is probably Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails, especially Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral. Those were so influential in my youth. He’s turned into such a great contemporary composer, too. I’d say if my music was inspired the most by anyone, it’d be Trent. 

I’m also a longtime KMFDM fan. I started out as a casual listener when Nihil came out in 1995 but I quickly became obsessed with collecting their entire discography. I even managed to find the ultra-rare Naïve album in a used record store. 

Other artists I like in no particular order are The Cure, New Order, Catherine Wheel, Juno Reactor, Björk, Matthew Sweet, Front 242, Radiohead, TOOL, Underworld, The Prodigy, Junkie XL, Hybrid, Leftfield, Killing Joke, Aphex Twin, Beck, Ulrich Schauss, Ministry and The Crystal Method.

Anthony:
Are there any podcasts that you’d like to recommend to us?

Jeff:
I’m not a big podcast consumer, surprisingly enough. I’m so busy all the time I barely have time to listen for fun. In the audio fiction realm I highly recommend The White Vault, Less is Morgue, Creepy, Dark Dice, The Grey Rooms, Shadows at the Door, The Hidden Frequencies, Congeria and Welcome to Night Vale.

I also enjoy TV & movie review podcasts. Among the best of these is The Weekly Planet, which is so, so funny. Another amazing now-defunct movie podcast is What Are You Doing, Movie?. The /Filmcast is another good one. And I do enjoy Office Ladies because I’m a fan of The Office.

Anthony:
And last but not least, where can we find all your various works and projects that you’ve worked on?

Jeff:
The best place to find all my stuff is at http://jeffclement.net. If you’re into the socials, I’m on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AuralStimulate, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuralStimulations, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/auralstimulations, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/auralstimulations and on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/auralstimulation.

Anthony:
Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with us. Is there anything else you’d like to add that we may have missed or didn’t get to mention?

Jeff:
Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me, I really appreciate it!

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Clement

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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