RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW NASHVILLE ARTIST JACOB HUMBER
Hiya Jacob, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you become a musician?
When I was little my sister started taking piano lessons. I remember waking up to her practicing and thinking it was the coolest thing. I wanted to be like her, so I begged and begged my parents to let me take lessons, and they finally caved!
Introduce us to your musical history?
From bopping around the house to the 90’s christian music as a toddler, to maintaining piano lessons through grade school, I always found myself gravitating toward where the music was.
There were a lot of life transitions that went on for me during my college years, and learning to write music during that period of time was helpful in processing it all. Toward the end of college, I met some Nashville musicians who lit a fire inside me with their set and convinced me to move to their city. That was in the Fall of 2018, and ever since then I’ve been here in Nashville figuring out how to improve my songwriting and enjoy living.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Favorite movie – everyone knows you can’t top The Road to El Dorado!
Nashville has a rich music history, how have you seen it develop over the years?
I only just moved to Nashville in terms of its history as a city and really haven’t had a chance to see much development over the few years I’ve been here. However, learning about Nashville’s history as Music City is both humbling and inspiring – from the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Ryman, all the way to the recently designated Music Mile. This city was here long before me, and will be here long after!
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
While I’m not particularly gung-ho about any certain conspiracy theory, I’m often intrigued by what other folks believe in – hand me a beer and you’ve got my attention!
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
I may have gotten a bit excited about house plants …
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
Athletics played a huge role in my life growing up, and continues to be the most effective way for me to prioritize my mental health. I give off a bit of a security guard vibe in person, but like, of a library.
If you had to describe your music to an alien, how would you describe it?
I would try to make gestures that symbolize thinking and connectivity. But I’d probably end up getting carried away and communicating something similar to NASCAR.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I’m more of a gatherer than a performer. The songs I share don’t raise their hand much and will probably always remain relatively unknown. I want to be a student of the trades and people I pursue, and learn how to serve my listeners in what I create.
Right now, what’s annoying you the most?
Lately I’ve realized that I most easily write heavier songs. I still think those are important, but I’d like to write songs from a place of gratitude more often. Especially in a live setting, it’s tough to string together a narrative that keeps the listener in a serious place the whole time.
Whats your favourite song to play live and why?
At the moment, it’s a song by John Craigie called “Dissect the Bird.” It’s often my opening song of a live set with its duality of humor and emotional approachability.
Tell us about your new single ‘Jesus At My Dining Room Table’.
The song considers that Jesus is more human than we make him out to be, which is crucial to having an actual relationship with him. The shift from the opening ethereal instrumentation and atmospheric vocals, into creating space for the listener to engage and question the lyrical content is intended to reflect what my relationship with Jesus has looked like. Growing up, I had the understanding that life brought little trouble beyond understanding inside the belief system our community shared. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. The harder life hits, the more I long for simpler times.
Talk me through the thought process of the single.
I was raised in an evangelical christian home, and so faith was all around me growing up. The older I got, the more common it was for me to encounter christians who didn’t seem to know much about the love of Jesus. Instead, these folks I came across seemed to know more about following a subset of rules than what actual relationship with Jesus looks like, shown by an absence of love they show.
Although the songwriter asks Jesus questions in this song, most are asked with a glint in the eye. Regardless of the answer to any of these questions, the point of it all is the necessity of bringing difficult and real issues into one’s spiritual connection. Though I can’t speak for other systems of belief and religion, I have experienced that christians often have difficulty talking to people as people, as opposed to projects. The point is connection, not conversion.
Though the song ends with, “Something isn’t right here, just seems like you disappeared. I miss the way it felt to live a lie,” one can hear the conversation sample continuing in the background as the song ends. Despite the amount of anger, doubt, and cynicism that continues to take root, it’s all a part of my relationship with that man.
What was the recording process like?
Smooth and meaningful. We recorded this tune in its producer’s home, and the dude really knows his stuff. I’m pretty sure he’ll never read this and so I’m comfortable sharing – he and I share a similar sentiment on this facade of the christian life, though he carries more cynicism than I. We have trouble connecting on a personal level, but had more to talk about with this song than at any other time. When I asked him to let the conversation sample continue through the end of the song, some pretty intense emotions came up for himl. We didn’t talk about it, and I don’t think we needed to. We share the unspoken longing the song offers passage to.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
Talking about heavy things in an approachable way. There are a lot of really difficult things going on in the world today, and finding the sweet spot between avoidance and over-seriousness is easier said than done.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Yes and no. I think the studio recording is what it needs to be, but I enjoy changing verses when I play them live, based on whatever seems most important at the time.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
My first record project comes out in October, and I’m currently finalizing plans for the fall tour! Other than that, maintaining a steady output of writing and learning new songs.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Don’t let not having it all together keep you from being who you are out in the world right now. Who cares? Put yourself out there. We need who you are, and we need the things you offer. A lot. Right now.