An Interview with James Farrell

I saw James walking to Worner through the windows on the first floor. He was coming to meet me for an interview I had asked him about a few days prior. He looked down when he walked with his hands in the pockets of his brightly colored shorts. He was wearing a faded red sweatshirt with a colorful hat that had a stitched weed leaf on it. He slid into the chair across from me at exactly 4:30, when we had agreed to meet. As I explained to him the purpose of my interview and my intentions with the article, he seemed a little uncertain. After we started speaking more openly, however, this vanished and he answered my questions honestly and enthusiastically.

James’s musicianship started in high school when he played bass in a band. He says this was fun for a while, but working with other people has never been one of his strong attributes, and he grew frustrated with the lack of originality they held. Around this time, he heard dubstep for the first time. He was in his friend’s basement, and the exposure to the music sparked an interest almost immediately.

“I had no idea what I was listening to, and I didn’t even like it at first, but I was so interested because I’d never heard anything that sounded like it before. It was dark, not like the candy house bullshit that we listen to clubbing, which I never really liked. It was different and dark, and I really liked that.”

He began working out little songs on Garage Band, but soon learned that you can’t really make good music on Garage Band, so he switched to a more official program that allowed him to create the music he wanted to. He taught himself how to create, watching videos and reading forums. He began with a focus on producing, learning new things constantly as he continued to experiment. James has a variety of ways that he goes about creating and producing his music. It can be linear and calculated, or emerge organically, but he made it clear that he never forces anything.

“Sometimes I’ll find vocal samples in someone else’s song that I can use, just like a snippet or something, and take it and slow it down or speed it up or make it go backwards, and then chop it up and make my own melody out of it, and then figure out a beat to go behind that. Sometimes I’ll just think about an idea for a feeling and take a whole bunch of sound bites that will lend themselves to that and throw them together and see where it goes. I find it’s easier to work, especially recently, where I don’t have an end goal in mind. I start with an idea and let myself take it wherever it goes. It ends up sounding more natural that way.”

If you want to see James DJ live, it’ll most likely be at a house party under the name “Sleepy James”. He says that this is where he primarily is able to showcase his abilities, however DJing at a house party has its benefits and drawbacks. As a DJ, James accepts a responsibility to ensure that guests have an enjoyable time. This comes at a cost to his creativity sometimes, for a medium must be achieved between what he really wants to play and what the guests want to hear.

“I can’t always play what I want to. I have to make the party happen and make sure people dance and have a good time. I can’t freak people out with the stuff that I only like. I’m trying to strike a balance between not being too weird so people can dance, but also play things that people haven’t heard before.”

At parties, James does all his mixing on the spot. He has routines that he knows well, such as what songs go well together or lead into each other, but his sets are not normally planned out or practiced. Other than his performance at Battle of the Bands, he tries to stay away from a laid out set, and finds that the longer sets where he can improvise lend themselves to more interesting and unique creations.

James says that creating music is both a routine and a distraction for him. When he starts making music he can get lost in it for hours and forget about anything else of importance. As he continues to talk about why he chooses to make music, I watch a wide grin spread its way across his face. Soon, I’m not asking any more questions, and he’s staring into space talking about the feeling he gets when he creates and DJs.

“It’s satisfying to create something from scratch and from the sounds I hear around me. There’s something in the artistic process that’s very satisfying. It’s cheesy to say I’m expressing myself, but I guess so. DJing is fun- I hope it makes the party better, and people have a great time and have something to dance to- I can make them move. I have control over the mood of the whole thing. I can get really really dark, and bring it to a place that’s happier. I can build up a drop and not drop it and everyone yells at me. It’s really fun to fuck with people like that. That sounds bad, but it’s actually really cool.”

James can fill up a house party easily. Not only is he talented in his creations and performances, but he exudes a passion that the audience can sense. I was surprised by his enthusiasm during our interview, but I realized after that I shouldn’t have been. Seeing him talk about his music openly and honestly made me understand how important it all is to him, and I hope to see him perform again before he graduates.

After graduating this spring, James plans to move back to Paris where he grew up. He’s going to continue to create music, and is hoping to find small venues in Paris to play at and showcase his work. He’s also finally going to make a soundcloud.

An Interview with Eliza Densmore

I walked to Eliza’s house in an aggressive down pour of soft snow. One of her roommates let me in, and as I adjusted to the warmth the smell of something delicious being cooked trickled into the room and soon engulfed the entire house. We sat down in her living room, me on a wooden table and her on an oversized beanbag chair in the center of room. I asked if she could play me some songs and she pulled out her guitar, placing it on her lap. She played three originals. She looked comfortable singing to me in her loose jeans and wool socks, like an impromptu solo performance for an audience of one was no big deal to her.

The first thing I noticed was that she moved her toes a lot when she sang. After the first song she said she preferred to stand and walked to the center of the room. She stood in front of me, silhouetted against the pastel light behind her.  When she sang her face was full of expression. Her eyebrows moved up and down with the music. Her eyes opened wide, closed suddenly, and opened again more slowly. She looked down, out and down again. During the last song there was a moment when her voice got loud. It was controlled and sudden, and it surprised me. She quickly diffused back into a softer tone effortlessly. It was beautiful, and I wanted to hear that power behind her voice again.

Eliza has been musical since a young age. She started taking piano lessons when she was six, learning by the Suzuki method, which focuses on the development of a musician’s ear rather than their ability to read sheet music. Her musical journey was largely independent. She listened to a wide variety of music growing up, building a repertoire of different styles and techniques. She taught herself guitar, and learned how to harmonize by singing along to songs she heard. Her only formal training was chorus.

“I didn’t really consider myself skilled at singing until late in high school. I was sort of a loner in high school and I would come home and be angsty and play the piano to myself. I would try and belt it all out. Eventually you learn how to work with what you have and adapt and find your own sound.”

Eliza first started writing songs on the piano, but switched to the guitar her junior year of high school. The piano was framed in her mind as a more classical instrument, and the guitar lent itself more useful for the singer-songwriter vibe she wanted. She wrote her first song when she was fifteen. She laughed when I asked her about it, and offered to play it for me. It’s called “Out of Here”. It’s angsty, and the lyrics are hilariously trivial, but behind is an impressive chord progression that Eliza says she still enjoys.

When Eliza came to CC she hesitantly entered the music scene. She started with nervous performances of covers at open mic and ended up in a few student bands her freshman year. It wasn’t really what she was looking for, but eventually she met the right people and found those that had interests more aligned with hers. She is currently in the band Randy and the Reptiles, and is a member of Room 46, an a cappella group on campus.

“I don’t know if I ever felt totally comfortable voicing what I wanted to do at the beginning. It was definitely hard. A lot of the guys wanted to play their electric guitars super loud and told me I could do the ‘belty singing’ part on the side, but I wanted to be more involved than that. I think Randy is really good about that.”

Eliza thinks that singing with other people is about community. Once she started collaborating more and forging new relationships, she grew more comfortable in her abilities. Her songwriting followed suit, and since her high school years she’s developed a more advanced approach to writing.

“Songwriting has gotten a lot less ‘me me me I I I’. It’s still a little that way- when you write a song I feel like that’s what’s relatable, but it’s more subtle now and I’m looking more at the details of things. I have a long way to go and grow as a songwriter and I think it progresses with each song. The way I would have written “Out of Here” is to just have written it and not gone back at all or reedited. Now it’s a lot more of piecing things together. I’ll write for five pages and take bits and put them together.”

Between her group musical commitments and her classwork, Eliza’s found that she hasn’t had as much time as she hoped for. She wants to focus more on her own work and get a better grasp on what exactly she wants to be doing. Her songwriting, while advancing, hasn’t been as much of a center point as she wants it to, and in the months to come she hopes to learn more about who she is as a musician.

“I was scared about post-grad in the fall but now it’s sort of fine. Working on music is something I’m thinking about, and I feel like at CC I’ve taken advantage of all the musical connections I’ve made with people, but haven’t focused on myself as much. But I don’t think that will hurt me at all. I do want to spend more time alone, reading and writing.”

I asked Eliza about her emotional connection to music, like what purpose it serves for her and why she engages with it. She thought about it for a moment and stumbled on her words as she tried to articulate her thoughts. She decided to tell me about the times she plays piano by herself in Shove, and the feeling it instills in her when the sound fills the room.

“Sound fills up a space with something. It’s physical, it’s emotional, it’s everything. I feel like I have to do it. It’s comfort, emotional stability, relationships with people. Everything. It’s discipline, it’s something you work at, it’s a craft. Especially with song writing, you can piece everything in there. It’s simply everything.”

Eliza’s commitment to her work shows clearly in her compositions. She does not rely on her natural talent to carry her forward, she works for it- meticulously and persistently. Her devotion reveals itself in her creations and performances, and in the coming months I look forward to seeing what she comes up with. If you haven’t seen Eliza perform, you should really try and catch her before she’s gone.

 

 

 

An Interview with Bo Malcolm

I interviewed Bo in his room. It was small, incredibly neat, with more books than decorations. He sat across from me at his desk chair while I sat on the bed. He asked me if he should play some of his songs and pulled his guitar out from under the bed.

“How can you interview me without knowing the music, right?”

I said of course, and he proceeded to play me two songs. When he plays he looks down, out into nothing, or at the window, but never at me. He has a look of deep concentration with hints of ease in it. Something is going on in his head, but I have no idea what it is. He smiles to himself occasionally as he’s playing, but I’m not sure if he notices he’s doing it. Most of the time his eyes are wide and open, concentrating, expressing.

Bo’s parents bought him a guitar when he was young, around eleven years old, and after taking classical lessons for a year he decided to drop it. He says he wasn’t passionate enough, for the mind of an eleven year old is busy in the imaginary world. Now playing guitar helps him rediscover that feeling, but back then he didn’t need it for that purpose. He didn’t pick the guitar back up again until the fall semester before he came to CC as a winter start. It was at this time he wrote his first song.

“It was kind of an exorcism. I felt really troubled I was a bit heart broken you could say, but there was more than that going on. I was very isolated. I’d been thinking for a while. I had an internship on a farm for a few months and that whole time I was thinking about music and really wanting to involve myself with music. I had remembered 3 or 4 chords so I just played those until lyrics occurred to me.”

He played that first song for me. It was melodically advanced, honest, and beautiful. When he finished playing I wished he’d play it again. Bo approaches his songwriting in an incredibly mature way. He seems to have a tight grasp on where he stands in his musical capabilities and knows what he wants to keep working on.

“I still work on annunciation. I think singing has been a visceral act, it’s very cathartic, but I also like to write lyrics and be very deliberate with what I sing. I’m trying to find a balance between losing myself and singing and conveying a message to an audience.”

I asked Bo about his influences. The first few that came to his head were Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, and Marvin Gaye. Talking about his influences brought up a concept that he referred to as the “anxiety of influence.” He talked about the pitfall of touching too much on your influences and never achieving a sense of individuality- something that happens when you’ve been too cultured into a movement of singer songwriter. It’s not definite, but rising above it requires practice, attentiveness, and time.

“I think it has to do with really… it has to do with practice, and close attention paid to your influences. It’s tricky in that way because many say that the beginning is imitation. All you can do is imitate the greats and maybe create something that touches on the excellent qualities that you admire so much, but at a certain point after you’ve read and read and are a more experienced player and writer, I feel that those artists are in dwelling, you know, you carry them with you and you’re unconsciously writing with certain turns and techniques that they used. But because you don’t realize it, it’s something unique and original. It’s applying a different aesthetic quality than your own to your perception of the world. It’s really living with those subjects.”

Bo says he is still working towards achieving an individual style. He doesn’t think he’s old enough or that he’s had enough experience. I understand what he’s saying, but I don’t think I’m a close enough listener to really notice this lack of uniqueness. I’m inclined to disagree with his assessment of himself. I haven’t heard another performer at CC that sounds like Bo, or even comes close to echoing his creative ability. His lyrics are honest and creative, and he delivers them in a way that is incredibly deliberate.

I’ve only seen Bo perform a few times outside of our interview, and every time he was alone. I asked him about it, and he told me he’s started to play with other people more recently. Bo isn’t musically educated, he plays by ear, and so in the past he hasn’t been confident in his abilities to play with other musicians. As he’s grown more experienced that’s changed, however, and he’s even given some thought to starting a band.

“I’ve thought about cover bands, that’s a really interesting idea to me. A band that would do all rockabilly music, like Buddy Holly, of Chuck Berry, those kinds of songs. It’s part of my music preference, and it’s also music people still dance to even though it’s 70 years old, which I think is fascinating.”

Bo says that music is about sharing each other’s creative work, and that sometimes the music scene here can be too exclusive.

“We need to engender creative conversations, and that starts with people wanting to share.”

Bo says he’s going to continue playing open mic at Sacred Grounds, and maybe even try to play at Coburn Unplugged. If you’ve never heard Bo play, you really should try and go see him. He has a sound that will make your heart hurt- not in a bad way, but in a way that’s incredibly vulnerable, even meaningful. Listening to Bo play alone in his room left me feeling inspired, and all I can say is that I am waiting to hear his voice again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Austin Langsdorf

I know Austin pretty well, so when he told me he wouldn’t let me interview him unless I bought him a banana I reluctantly handed him my gold card. He came back a few moments later with no banana, reporting that none were ripe enough to meet his satisfaction. He slid into the seat across from me, folded his hands over one another, and looked me straight in the eye.

Austin started playing piano when he was five, was singing before that, and learned guitar when he was twelve because he thought it was cool. He started writing his own songs on a camping trip when he was fifteen.

If you watch Austin play it’s easy to notice his impressive musicianship. He plays by ear, having never taken a real formal lesson until this year, and lets the music flow through him in a way you can see by the expression on his face.

“I’ve always played by ear and had a very moderate scale knowledge. I’m taking jazz lessons now to bridge the gap between feeling the music and playing by ear, and having some structure with a more theoretical basis. More scales diversifies what you can play so much.”

When Austin came to Colorado College he underwent a yearlong hiatus. Years of untrained playing were catching up to him, and as he continued to play more in college he found that his shoulders and hands were in pain from improper technique.

“I don’t think it was totally physical. At some point I decided that I couldn’t play anymore and just made it so I was either playing or not playing, instead of that I was doing it wrong and needed to learn to do it better.”

With the introduction of new lessons and a little alternative physical therapy, Austin has picked up his guitar again and formed a group on campus called Randy and the Reptiles. The band was formed last spring semester with a few different members, but only this year has the band found stability. Having a reliable group of people to practice with combined with a formal practice space has propelled them into new territory, allowing the members to feel comfortable with one another and progress musically.

“I’ve always wanted to play music with other people. I didn’t push it for a really long time and I would play by myself or with one other person. It’s a lot different to jam and present your music to an audience. It’s kind of selfish to be a talented musician and not share it with other people. Music isn’t just about having a hobby, for me, it’s a powerful tool to bring people together. To have tons of people dancing and smiling together is an awesome thing.”

Randy and the Reptiles has filled a void in the music scene at CC. The current bands on campus are full of good musicians, perform well, and are fun to watch. However The Reptiles offer an emotional experience that is not found in many other groups. When they’re performing they give off a vibe that instills a sense of ease in the listener. By presenting themselves in a fun, comfortable, and relaxed way, they allow the listener to tune into this mindset and forgo any fear of judgment in a way that feels incredibly inclusive.

“There are bands on campus that I think are a lot better than us technically. Their musicianship and what they can play together is much tighter. I think honestly there’s a long way to go in the development of our sound. I also think that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. The actual notes that you’re playing are maybe a quarter to half of what’s going on. The way that you present yourself and the dynamic of the band is vastly more important.”

If you’ve ever gone to a Randy and the Reptiles show, what Austin is saying becomes evident. They cover songs that people know and aren’t that technically complicated, yet the audience is incredibly receptive to their music. There has yet to be a Reptiles show where people aren’t generally having a fun, carefree time.

“Even when we play basic covers that we learned two days ago and practiced once, as soon as we present them in an open and relaxed way where we’re not worried, it feeds with everyone there who can open up and have fun.”

So what’s in store for Austin’s future? He plans to keep playing with Randy and the Reptiles until the end of this semester when most of the members will be graduating. After that, Austin has no idea.

“I have no fucking clue what I’m going to do. I’ll be playing music all my life.”

 

Photo Credit: Richard Forbes

An Interview with Shane Lory

I was waiting for Shane downstairs in Worner when I felt my phone vibrate. It was a text from Shane, saying that he was waiting upstairs for me in the ballpit. I walked upstairs and found him neck deep in an inflatable kiddie pool full of colorful plastic balls, reclined and relaxed. I took off my shoes and climbed in next to him.

Shane’s musical career started at an early age, experimenting with the recorder, the clarinet, and choir by the time he was in fifth grade. He decided he did not like any of these that much, but when his granddad gave him a guitar in sixth grade he found something he wanted to stick with. While teaching himself how to play the guitar, Shane also began writing his own songs and lyrics. Shane described his creative process to me, and although I had trouble following his initial explanation, after some further clarification I realized how unique an approach it was.

“A way that I’ve been going is instead of writing a song that necessarily has a meaning, is starting with the instrumentals, figuring out what the song sort of feels like and then singing nonsense babel until it sounds good, then figuring out what the nonsense babel sounds like in real word terms and ascribing real words to the babel.”

It may sound confusing, but this approach lends itself to songs that stray away from specific intentions that may restrict potential and creates songs with a more vague meaning.

“I read something somewhere that said, ‘you really mature as an artist when you can write songs that aren’t about yourself,’ so I try to do that more often that not. However, I don’t really think I’ve gotten to that maturity yet because they always end up a little autobiographical.”

Shane’s skill as a performer reached a new level when he took a year off between high school and college. He originally intended to spend the year working on farms, but after getting kicked off a farm in Canada full of “hardcore, post apocalyptic, punk, redneck, Canadians,” he found himself in a country he was not familiar with and without any means of making money. All he had with him was his guitar, so he decided to utilize his talent and became a street performer. He paid $20 to get a street performing license and began to play in the Canadian city streets on Victoria Island, learning how to attract an audience and make a good bit of money doing it.

“When you’re on the street it’s important to be louder than everyone else. That only lends itself to success if you can also be really animated and energetic. I got into the style of playing really loud, jumping up and down, dancing, and I was usually barefoot, too, which got a lot of people’s attention.”

He also made his way down to Boulder where he performed on Pearl Street, focusing on improvisational playing on his acoustic. His guitar became the focus of his year abroad, allowing him to make some money while exploring a different style to his musical composition.

Shane has found a confidence in his singing, utilizing it as a way to express his opinions. For Shane, writing and performing are a way to convey his thoughts and ideas to people in a thoughtful and calculated way, whether it be standing on a corner or playing for friends.

“It’s an opportunity to yell my opinion at people and not have that seem like I’m forcing anything on anybody, but also being to premeditate how I’m going to articulate those emotions, which is pretty cool. It’s great to be able to stand on a street corner and express myself to strangers in a way I can’t even express myself to my friends.”

Despite his talent, Shane has been largely absent from the music scene this year. Between running Colorado Springs Food Rescue and the woes of being a junior, Shane has little free time to devote to his music nowadays. He’s hoping to change this and get more involved (heads up to any low commitment bands or musicians searching for a partner). Look out for him at open mic, Food Rescue events, and occasionally downtown playing on a corner. Shane is a really talented musician and songwriter, and if you haven’t heard his stuff I encourage you to check it out. His music is easy to listen to, thought provoking, and has a specific style that is reminiscent of how Shane carries himself day to day.

Link to his music page: https://www.facebook.com/Guitarmonies/info

 

 

But Who is Randy?

LINEUP
Nic Titus – Keyboard, moral support
Emily Naranjo – Rhythm Guitar
Eliza Densmore – vocals
Kyle Lutz – Bass, chief negotiator of internal affairs
Austin Langsdorf – Guitar and Vocals, Keeps the reptiles blood warming up to survive

It’s 6:30pm and I’m sitting in the main room of some house on Monument, as Randy and the Reptiles get set up to play. I have never been to a band practice, but the imagine of teenagers banging on instruments in someone’s garage while the neighbors cringe in fear always comes to mind. However, Randy and the Reptiles were a bit better than that. In this room clad with blue walls and stained with the smell of cigarettes, great music was created.

“I think it’s the full moon, I’m feeling crazy” says Austin. Maybe it was the full moon or maybe we can blame everything on the weird telekinetic vibes that were occurring between members in that room because the music was electrifying. There was not a moment when my foot was not dancing and tapping to the tunes. This is the music that people want to hear: good music from good people. If you ask them how to describe their sound they may use terms such as “mediocre,” “demonic,” or ” or even “cold-blooded.” However if you ask me, I’ll be a bit boring and say funky, soulful and electric. In many ways the sound was warm and vibrant, but this would be interrupted with a nice strong attention catching attack. An attack that had the potential to send your body into chills after being caught by surprise.

Oh and how could I forget about the vocals? Eliza Densmore, although small, packs a big punch and has the power to knock you off your feet. Combine that with Austin’s bluesy voice and Kyle’s vocal pizazz and you get the creation of something like hard cider, sweet and delicious yet powerful.

So, how did these wonderful people all come together? Apparently Austin asked Kyle, who was playing his guitar in Rastall, if he wanted to play in a band. Then on a separate occasion Nic drunkenly explained to Austin that he really wanted to be in a band and it turned out that they were looking for someone to play the keyboard. Depending on whom you ask, the big group came together out of love and mutual passion and it’s a good thing they did because they are definitely going to bring more to the music scene at CC.

What’s next for the group? Kyle screams out “World Tour” and Nico replies “The International Expo.” Apparently they are both wrong and Acacia Park is really what’s next. Are they actually serious about this, I’m not really sure but I guess we will find out soon. More realistically, they are planning to write more originals this semester and practice some new covers. Lastly, Austin explains that they are planning to “create a safe space for people to get groovy without fear of judgment, competition, repercussions. We would really like to be just a fun band that everyone can get down to. We aren’t trying to do it for being cool or winning or being the best band. We just want to get down.”

Honestly, I’m excited to see more of Randy and the Reptiles playing this year. If they are anything like what I saw in their band practice then we all should be excited. As for who Randy is? That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. Kyle explains, “We had just climbed Mt. Everest and Eliza was half dead on account of oxygen.” Nico adds, “A lizard scurried by and we thought wait. Reptiles.” Somewhere along the way Emily realized “that’s the only life up here.” There you have it. Randy was born. I do not know how legit this story is and you do not have to buy it, but you can buy their music because that was something honest and pure.

Photo Credits: Hannah Fleming

An Interview with Ken Arimura

When I walked into Ken’s apartment on Friday afternoon he was in the middle of cooking himself lunch and the smell of sizzling olive oil and fresh pesto filled the room. I took a seat on the couch and when he was finished cooking he sat on the floor cross-legged, a bowl of salad in one hand and eggs in the other. He looked up at me nervously as we began talking.

Ken started playing drums when he was in sixth grade and picked up the guitar a couple years later. He currently plays guitar for the all junior band Touch It, although drums are his favorite to play.

“Ever since I was a kid I would take out metal bowls from the kitchen and use chopsticks to play with them. I decided to have a jam one day with two of my good friends and after that I figured this is what I want to do.”

When Ken came to CC he jammed casually with friends in the Mathias basement, and eventually the people who showed up to jam became consistent and Touch It gradually formed. Ken has played in a band before, specifically a death metal band called The Trees, but this is his first time playing guitar for a band full time.

“I used to only play drums, so this is a whole new thing. You’re much closer to the crowd. It makes you a lot more nervous. If I look up at the people and not at my fingers it’s like ‘ahhh’ I’m going to look over there and adjust some stuff.”

Ken’s mom has largely influenced the way he plays music. He says she has always been encouraging and open to new styles, even going as far as to listen to his death metal. She also is largely responsible for Ken’s interest in guitar; she gave him her old acoustic and introduced him to an 80’s power funk band called The Extremes that has heavily guided his style.

“I like finding repetitive patterns and milking it. I’m kind of a cheap bastard like that. To me, repeating a groove over and over again really gets you moving. It starts getting catchy and you start thinking, where can I go with this specific melody and harmony and what not, and what can I put on top of it?”

Ken plans to continue playing with Touch It but would like to start something new, too. Mainly because he wants to play drums more.

“I play guitar like a play drums, I don’t play drums like I play guitar.”

Ken is an incredibly talented musician who continues to impress his audience. Those close to him know how hard he practices and how this practice has paid off.

“Surprising yourself is worth it for me. Like whoa did I just do that? And then you try it again and you mess it up and you do that over and over again until you can add it to your dictionary. If I was jamming with someone I know that they’d throw stuff at me during the jam that I wouldn’t know how to respond to, but I want to know how to respond because then you can communicate. Learn music for the sake of sharing it with other people.”

An Interview with Jake Sabetta

I met Jake the first day of school in my FYE “Emotion and Meaning in Music.” He wore a humble grin that stretched across his face, the same grin that greeted me in upstairs Worner over the weekend as we sat down on the couches to talk.

Jake first started playing guitar when he was 11 years old after being exposed to legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He became well known in the music scene at CC when he began playing with YouJazz, filling in for their guitarist Phoenix.

“I had played in front of huge crowds before but I never played to a crowd that was so receptive to the kind of music that I enjoyed playing. It gave me hope to see that kids my age like the same music that I enjoy playing.”

Jake now plays in Funkdozer, one of the four finalists in Battle of the Bands. Their group originally started as a trio with saxophone player Brian LeMeur and drummer Jake Lauer. Once they found a bassist, fellow freshman Dylan Pearl, they became a band.

“When we got back from Christmas break Brian got us our first gig above the Preserve. Kids really liked it! We were so surprised because we put all the songs together in five days, and just thought holy crap people actually liked it.”

This modest attitude that surrounds the all freshman band keeps them practicing, playing, and gaining more popularity on campus. Jake continues to shy away from compliments and shakes his head when anyone tries to give him one.

“We all think we suck.”

After their win at Battle of the Bands Jake and the rest of Funkdozer are still reeling. They played a risky set, choosing a 20 minute long jam session instead of a preset list of songs, that ultimately propelled them to tie with YouJazz for the most votes.

“Guitar is an instrument that is unexplored. With a lot of instruments there’s a method to how you get good at them, but with guitar it’s up to the player to figure it out themselves. You have to mess around and explore the fret board yourself. That’s so cool to me. I’ll sit down and figure new stuff out every time I play. I kind of don’t understand why I like it so much, but I just know the instrument has done a lot of good to me and that’s why I love it so much.”