Jacob talks about his recent release of Without You, and his creative process leading up to this point. He shares his dedication towards his music, some upcoming projects and tips for musicians struggling to stay focused.
Q: When did you start producing and what or who were your early passions and influences?
A: I started producing at the age of 12. I always had an interest in songwriting from an early age. When one of my classmates told me about FL Studio I had to try it. I remember spending hours trying to figure it out. I watched countless tutorials and probably spent a lot of my years in High School on FL. I sometimes wish I had access to those old beats. In the early stages, Dr. Dre was a major influence. I use to always try and recreate his beats. I still believe Dre to be one of the greatest producers to ever live.
Q: What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
A: I will always start with chords. I feel that a solid chord progression is what will carry a song. After I decide on a chord progression, I try to make melodies and other textures that will fit around the chords. Then I will try and get a basic 4-8 bar groove. That is my usual approach.
Q: You released Chapter IV 4 months ago. How has your artistry changed throughout these past months to now?
A: Chapter IV was a good basis, but it was not my greatest music. Far from it. I think the flaw of that project was me focussing on who should master it and who should be on the songs. Waiting for the vocals, etc. Anyways, I’m not going to bash my debut mixtape, but I’ve learned a lot from the flaws of it. Lately, I spend a lot more time on the music itself. I find myself brainstorming a lot. Also, I will only spend segments of time working on one song and I keep coming back to it through time to keep it fresh. Sometimes, I’ll make a song, love it while making and hate it a day later. Or the opposite. I feel like working on it over a course of a time helps figure out the gems from the rest.
Q: Leading up to the release of Without You, what has been your creative process when creating this single?
A: I started production on this single about 8 months ago. I think I made the song in one day and did a super rough mix of it. I held onto it for a long time. To talk about the creative process though, I started with the piano chords as I usually do. Then built pads, synths, and more off of these chords. Drums and fx always come last for me. After that, the mixing took me awhile. I went through about 5 different mixes before I settled. Q: Who are some of the musicians that have been your main source of inspiration during the production of Without You?
A: Flume and Kanye West. Around the time I was making this, I was listening to Flumes most recent project, “Skin," literally on repeat. The synth work on that project has inspired me majorly for both this song and a lot more of my recent work. “Numb and Getting Colder” is an incredible example. Also, I felt that a lot of the sound design was very Kanye. In a strange way, drums off of “808s & Heartbreaks” inspired these drums. Q: This song would sound great with vocals on it. Is there a reason you chose not to include them?
A: It’s funny you mention that. I actually sent this song out to various EDM blogs. A lot of them loved the song but would not accept it due to “having a focus for vocal tracks," which makes a lot of sense. On this single, I wanted to keep the song just me. The production, mixing, and mastering. I think in electronic music it is important to collaborate, especially with vocalists, but it is also great to see what the artist can do when it is just them in the room. Q: What are the themes that are portrayed through Without You and will your future releases have similar tones to this track?
A: I wrote this song in B minor. I feel it’s a very melancholy key. Although this song is a bit on the joyful side, it still has a lot of dark undertones. For future releases, I do plan on making a lot more music on the darker side of things. Q: Being successful in this field takes a lot of commitment and a strong work ethic, how much time would you say you dedicate towards your music?
A: All the time I’m not at work. Even at work, I can sometimes be brainstorming in the back of my head. On my days off, I always try to get a list of stuff done, like finishing a mix, starting a new song, sending emails to blogs, etc. Q: Do you have any projects that you want to talk about that you are currently working on?
A: I’m currently working on a Collab EP with bass artist RedOption. I have been experimenting with some different sounds within working on this. Mostly Electronic, Drum & Bass, Dubstep, etc. It’s been cool to watch this project form and see both of our styles of music combine. Expect that to be available early summer. Also, I am working on my own solo project. I recently had to restart the entire project due to a hard drive dying on me. It disheartening but I feel sort of excited having a blank canvas now for the project. Q: What are some tips you have for people struggling to focus on their music? A: Just get out of bed, open your daw and have fun. Music should be a fun creative outlet. You should be excited to work on stuff, excited to go out and network. I understand that life gets in the way of it all sometimes. Always try and stay organized and make a plan for every day that involves music.
Q: Can you talk about some of the struggles you have faced as an artist?
A: Well as I mentioned earlier, I recently lost pretty much all of my work from 2017-2018 due to my hard drive dying. This was definitely a setback. When things like that happen, you need to look at it as a positive or else it will eat you alive.
Q: What is your process like when deciding a song is finally in its completion stage?
A: I think I speak for all artists when I say this part is hard and sometimes we have to realize when it is done. When I’m mixing and mastering a song I need feedback. As much as I love the songs I’m working on, I need for other people to like it. I always send it to some of my closest friends for feedback. I usually decide if it is ready once I show them and I only get good feedback. Shout out to the people I bombard with multiple mixes in this process.
Stream "Without You": smarturl.it/l1zqyu
Photography: Tyler Pengelly
Cover Art: Sarah Bernstein