Meet Jakob Russell.
A third-year Bachelor of Music student who enjoys writing and creating music. Even though he plays many instruments, there’s one where his passion lies, the guitar.
For almost eight years, Jakob has been playing the guitar and focusing on getting better at his craft.
He agreed to do an interview with us where he shares his passion for music and advice for student musicians who are looking forward to working in the industry.
Let’s see what Jakob had to say and why music is more than a hobby for him.
At what age did you develop a passion for music? And how?
“When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mother was in a band. Every Thursday night, they would practice in our basement. They used to practice so loud, and I would sit and just watch their band practice. My mother would make me wear these huge construction earmuffs. Even though I wasn’t playing the guitar yet, having that room in the basement full of music gear, huge amps, guitars, and basses struck a chord in me.”
Is there any particular artist that inspires you or who you feel has influenced your music?
“When I was a teenager learning how to play guitar, I listened to a lot of metal. Metallica was huge for me when I started playing and [I] learned a lot about their rifts. Nowadays, a couple [different] guitarists and artists give me a lot of inspiration. Plini is a big one for me, definitely a big inspiration for my lead playing. I also really love Masayoshi Takanaka’s guitar playing…[and] a lot of the indie stuff I write takes some inspiration from Boy Pablo.”
You play many instruments, but what separates your relationship with the guitar from other instruments? Why is this the instrument you have focused your passion on?
“It was the first instrument I picked up. My dad always had his guitars lying around the house and one day, I just decided that I was going to pick it up and start learning. However, I started learning different instruments to be able to record by myself, which included the bass and drums for music creation. But, the guitar is truly where my passion lies.”
How do you balance school and working on your craft?
“In many ways, my schoolwork and my craft blend together, [but] I realized that it’s important to separate them as best as I can. If I didn’t give myself dedicated “me time” in terms of music, I would start going a little bit crazy. My routine consists of working on what I need to do and having enough time to [still] work on what I want [to do].
How did you know that Humber’s Bachelor of Music program was the right fit for you?
“I spent a lot of time in high school looking at different programs in Canada. I wasn’t interested in studying classical music and knew I wanted to study jazz. Humber seemed like the best fit, and I wasn’t interested in any other programs. I spent a lot of time getting ready for my audition. I didn’t know how to read music before getting ready for Humber, [but] my teacher at the time, Eric Treleaven, helped me tremendously with theory and ear training, everything I needed to get ready for my audition. Humber was the only school I applied to. I’m fairly certain that if I didn’t make it in, I would’ve just tried to get in the next year.”
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
“I think that if you want it bad enough, anyone can make it work. I think that if you have the drive and want to be a working musician, I think that’s all you need to do it. Working musicians come in all shapes and sizes, and you might just need to find out where your strengths lie and where in the industry you might fit.”
What are your goals for the future?
“I want to keep on doing what I love and enjoy. In the short term, I want to keep writing and start to release some of my songs. In the long term, I want to support myself with music. This is something I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I [also] want to stay healthy; I’ve struggled with repetitive stress injuries in my hands and want to keep from those types of injuries. Finally, I want to keep on playing, practicing and getting better!”
So far, Jakob has been working toward his goal! He has produced a song which will be released soon!
If you are interested in listening, follow him on Instagram to know when it’s out!
*This interview has been edited for clarity*.
Here’s how you can turn your passion into a business.