Music can be a topic as touchy as who to vote for, or whether or not you like mayo. For Jacob Hudson, however, talking about music is as easy as talking about breathing–because for Jacob, music is breathing. Somewhere in the City met with Jacob a few years back, when he was at a different stage of his life. It’s always good to catch up with our favorite locals, particularly when something new and exciting comes their way. For Jacob, it’s the completion of his record “The Tomb” and his first music video for “The Dirt.”
The two of us met in Vagabond and chatted about his upbringing, his influences, and the fact that we’re both cat people. I’m always curious about people’s “How’s.” How does someone decide to be a musician? How did Jacob know this was something he wanted to pursue? Well, like most stories, Jacob’s doesn’t have a single, defining moment; rather, his story is one that progressed through time, with a little bit of help from family, church, and his own bravery.This Jacksonville native was homeschooled, meaning that he’s smarter than most of the people his age, and probably people older. Despite doing his studies at home, he didn’t dabble too much with music until his church, Celebration, recognized his potential and invested in his skills. He started messing around with drums and playing at Sunday services at Celebration. This familiarity with instruments grew until he’d picked up the piano, guitar, and singing to boot.
Things got serious when he was 16. Jacob’s family has always been supportive of his musical abilities, so much so that his brother loaned him the money to buy recording equipment so that he could record his first album. Jacob didn’t stop there, either. At 17 years old, he was confident enough to book himself for a 15-day tour around Atlanta, Nashville, Asheville, and Savannah. Remember, this kid’s 17. Jacob discovered then that he was great at networking, but not so good at balancing performances with his passion for writing. The tour left him drained and without the drive to write songs. He stayed in a rut for awhile, until the inspiration kicked back in and he wrote his next record, entitled “The Tomb.”
At this point, you may be wondering what type of music Jacob writes. A few of his role models are William Fitzsimmons, whose soft and raw voice was the inspiration for Jacob’s own voice (“He’s Iron and Wine softness divided by 2,” Jacob told me); Sujan Stevens, where Jacob found his quirky way of writing; Nick Drake; and Simon & Garfunkel. We discussed the frustration of trying to classify ourselves into specific genres that may be too narrow or too broad for our liking. In the end, Jacob settles for folk, though he acknowledges that his music doesn’t fit with all the motifs of folk music. He doesn’t classify himself as a Christian musician, though he says his pieces may have notes of Christian influence. He’s a fan of the 1970’s folk feel, with warm and darker tones that aren’t crisp and perfected like a conventional studio-recorded sound. With “The Tomb”, Jacob steered away from the feel of ’60s Gospel and opted for the roomy, organic sound of a record made in a cabin in the mountains–which was exactly where he recorded “The Tomb.” His record shows his journey from the bitterness of a past relationship transformed into honest introspection and acceptance of how he has changed, and for the better.I wondered if Jacob was writing every day, or if he had to wait for some magical inspiration to kick in. He says that he can go months without writing, and then suddenly songs will pile on him at once. He admits that he feels things very strongly and wants to put his feelings onto paper, but in a way that others can relate to. “I try to be imaginative,” he says, trying to broaden his current emotion so that it’s a situation wide enough for anyone to understand.
For someone brave enough to go on tour at 17, Jacob is surprisingly shy when it comes to his family. “I was terrified to sing alone with my parents,” he says with a laugh. The first time his family heard him sing was when they listened to a song he’d recorded. He showed them how to access the song, and then avoided his parents for the rest of the day. Good news–they loved his music. His family is his biggest fan and is sure to be at every show. After 3 tours, Jacob has gotten back into doing local shows, though he acknowledges that Jacksonville’s music culture isn’t very healthy right now. He’d like to see smaller house shows that don’t drag until it’s super late at night. He’s a fan of an intimate performance setting, a community-based one where he can build relationships with a few fans, rather than call out generic greetings to hundreds of fans. It’s the “I’d rather have a few close friends than a million acquaintances” philosophy, which makes sense when you understand Jacob’s introverted personality. His tendency to keep to himself means that his fans don’t know too much about him. I did the hard work and asked Jacob the questions that others might not know the answers to.
Favorite part about Jax: Murray Hill, where his studio is. He likes Murray Hill at night, when the neighborhood gets dead, and he can have theological discussions in the parking lot until it’s way past bedtime.
Favorite food: Southern breakfast with a nice cup of coffee. Maple Street is his go-to. We now know why his studio is in Murray Hill.
Things that terrify him: Cockroaches. He won’t even pick up a dead one, he’ll just kick it until he can’t see it anymore.
For Jacob, it’s not about the success; it’s about making his music and connecting with others. Make your own connection with Jacob by checking out his Spotify. See his latest music video for “The Dirt” here. You’ll want to watch it again and again (see if you can recognize the setting!). Kick back with some coffee, and maybe a biscuit from Maple Street, and get to know Jacob. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.