Jake’s Story: Making Me

For someone that is so passionate about music now, I really didn’t have a lot of musical influence growing up. My life was centered more around sports. On the radio, the family listened to sports talk and on television we watched so much ESPN that the logo wound up burned into the bottom right corner of our fifty-five inch LCD screen.  Sure, every now and again the classic rock station or 90’s alternative/pop station would make an appearance, but it certainly wasn’t often. I’ll admit I didn’t really too much care for music as a young boy. I loved sports. Well, I still do, but back then, sports were all that mattered to me. I spent my time fantasizing about championships to be won, All-Star teams to be made, and legacies to create. I was a jock; but something was never quite right. I didn’t completely fit in with the other guys who also obsessed over and played sports. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends but I was more undoubtedly more sensitive and it left me feeling a bit lost.

I wandered my way through my early adolescence playing sports, predominantly baseball. I had been gifted enough to realize my dreams of making All-Star teams, and things were great for me as an athlete. However, something lacked in me. I hadn’t discovered every part of myself yet.

One night, I was texting an old friend from elementary school and she insisted that I took a listen to a song called “The Girl’s a Straight-Up Hustler”. After receiving the message I thought to myself, “Oh God, not another rap song.” (I never did connect with rap or hip-hop like so many of my friends who had tried to push the genre on me had). Based on the title, I thought it would be a waste of my time. Reluctantly though, I searched the song on the Internet and promptly found it anyway.

I know this may sound a little dramatic, but after hitting play my life was genuinely changed forever.

The mid-tempo, brightly toned guitar riff started in and I quickly realized it was far from hip-hop. When Alex Gaskarth started in with the vocals, I lit up. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. I followed his diction and tone intently and it was all so perfect in that moment. As the song went on, I grew more and more excited realizing there was more music to be heard from this band, All Time Low. Song, after song, after song, I was overtaken. I finally felt like I had something that I could connect to; an outlet to express my more sensitive side. Something that made me…me.

As I began to discover the musical half of myself more and more, I soon realized that not only did I love listening to music, but I (arrogantly perhaps) felt I had the gift to vocally create it as well. I kept this thought to myself for a while but through time, I opened up to some friends and they were genuinely impressed. I opened up to some more people and starting singing with some newly made musician friends. I continued to open up and up until I (somehow) found myself winning my high school talent show. I had been blessed with all of this music inside of me and if it weren’t for All Time Low, who knows if I would have ever found it.

Fast-forward to today and my musical interests have matured a bit. I wound up being recruited to sing in an A Cappella choir, which not only helped me strengthen my gift, but also opened my ears to a whole other musical world filled with harmonies and rich tone. While artists like All Time Low obviously hold a special place in my heart, my favorite artists now consist of groups like The 1975, The Head and the Heart, Local Natives, WALK THE MOON, and Young the Giant.

I believe music has had such a profound impact on me because it always gives me something I can relate to. When I feel like no one gets it, music does. Whoever the artist, whatever the song may be, I like it ultimately because I can see myself in it in one way or another. It lets me escape from, and even sometimes confront, my reality in a way that is amazingly empowering. It helps me realize who I really am on the deepest levels. With each new musical discovery I uncover yet another part of me that makes me, well, me.

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