I have a very special treat for you all today. I’ve done an in-depth interview with my brother, Jake Mooneyham, who is the artist behind Trapper Capper, as well as a band member of Monostatic and The Vintage Season. He’s given us an inside look at what it means to be a student, a musician, and a human trying to survive. This interview was really fun to conduct and he’s so very forthcoming about all he does in his day-to-day life and what it means to juggle work, school, and the art of trying to get into the music biz. I’d love to hear some feedback from you guys and gals, letting me know what you thought of the interview and maybe any insights you may have about the music industry in general. As always you can just leave a reply in the comments below. Thanks so much! Now, on to the interview!
Do you remember the first moment you decided you had a passion for creating music? “Probably when me and Zach were at Mom and Dad’s house and he had the Casio keyboard and he had his drum sounds loaded into the keyboard. I was playing an electric guitar, trying to come up with riffs and stuff like that. We actually ended up with a goofy little song. It was pretty cool, though, and insanely simple. Even that was enough to hook me. It was a lot of fun.”
What/who are your biggest influences in the industry? “You know one of them. Haha. Jack White, of course. His music is what made me interested in trying to make music in the first place. Before I listened to his work, I played around with teaching myself guitar, but never had a full direction I was going. Right now, I really like Tame Impala for their psychedelic rock, yet they are also sort of in the EDM realm now, with their infectious grooves.”
You’ve been going to school for music for a little over a month now. What is the biggest thing you’ve learned so far? “I think Einstein said, ‘As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.‘ The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Even though I’m hitting the ground running with theory, I still realize I am a fumbling amateur. The main thing I’ve learned is I still have far to go.”
What genre // type of music are you most interested in creating right now? “That’s tough to say. I’ve been asking myself the same question. This goes back to when that band asked me to open for them and canceled. When I thought I was going to play live, I had a plan of how I was going to perform, using live instrumentation and DJ equipment, too, so I could launch different bass lines on that while playing guitar at the same time (uses wild hand gestures). I think it would be a fusion of rock and the wild dance music that’s going on right now. I thought of working on a whole EDM thing, but at the same time I really like playing guitar. I would also like to take some vocal lessons, to get better at that as well. Playing with a band is so much more athletic, though, too, because you all sync up with each other and it is less lonely. It’s a tough call, and it’s still up in the air right now.”
Where can we find songs that you have had a part in creating? “There are three groups you would want to search for on bandcamp: The Vintage Season, Monostatic, and Trapper Capper. The Vintage Season, as my interviewer knows, is the band my brother-in-law, my sister, myself, and our friend Zach play in. Monostatic is just me and Zach, while Trapper Capper is me doing my own thing kind of in the genre of EDM, or maybe trance music. It’s mostly me experimenting and learning as I go. My song “You Live and You Lie”, I feel could be improved and I will probably re-record it, but that’s far off for now. I’d like to record it in less of a sample-based way. I’d really love to make sure I do a version that has mostly live instrumentation. Maybe if I meet up with someone at school or with you, Zach, or Derek. I just want to make sure I don’t just focus on painting music on a grid for that song. I just want to make that song with actual live instruments.”
How much time do you think you spend on music per week? “[goofy laugh] Counting class? Okay, take 168 hours in a week minus 30 (my work hours), so now we have 138. Minus that by 28 (which is 4 hrs x 7 days for how much I sleep), then I’ll roughly subtract some time for doing everyday tasks and keeping in touch with people via my cell phone…I’d say I spend about 70 hours a week on music, that’s including classes, music homework, and my own music exploration.”
What are your goals in the future as of right now for music and its roll in your life? “Well, there are ideal goals, and there are practical goals. There’s what I want to happen, and there is what I will do in the meantime to survive. So, I’ll be going to school for now to learn how to teach music theory to maybe high school kids or at a community college. Of course the IDEAL goal would be to be a working musician and making money creating music. With that, there are several different levels — from making commercial jingles all the way up to being a rock star.”
Have you made some valuable connections while in school? “I’ve gotten to know a couple people. I’ve met a guy named Bo. I watched him at the Guitar Center drum-off the other day, which was awesome, and he made it to the store finals. I’ll be watching that this coming Tuesday. There’s another student who is a really good guitarist. His name is Tanner. I don’t know him that well yet, but he is a really talented guy. I also thought about studying abroad. There are so many countries to choose from. And the school program would pay for half of it. I think my conductor for the guitar ensemble is going to Brazil. He’s a really cool guy. He’s a wild-eyed crazy music nut. I think he may have perfect pitch. He seems like he has his head wrapped around music really well, too.”
What advice would you give other aspiring musicians? [laughs] “Go to school? I think a lot of musicians fall into a self-constructed trap of saying, ‘I don’t need to learn how to read music.’ Take it from someone who is just now starting music classes at school. I know I am learning as I go, but I have already learned a lot being at this school. I think a lot of people are afraid that learning the official established music technique is going to take away their individuality or some stupid nonsense like that. You’ve got to learn from the greats to really get going, and there is nothing wrong with learning from others. In fact it’s important to do so.”
What improvements do you hope to make involving your different skill sets? “I want to know the letter name of the note I’m playing at all times. When you’re on a piano, it’s more automatic, because of how it’s laid out. I want that with a fret board like I do with a keyboard. I want to immediately know all the time. I want to get better at keyboard and singing. I would love if I could have absolute pitch some day. If I heard a tone, I’d love to be able to tell you exactly what pitch it is without a reference point. I don’t know if it’s something people just have, or if you just have to train yourself up to it. It would be so much easier to dictate music, though, if I had that skill. I also need to get better at sight-reading. I know how, but I’m still very very slow at the moment.”
In the past, you’ve been involved in making movies and short films. Do you still have a passion for that as well? “I’m really glad you asked that. I actually just wrote a paper about shooting a movie with Jeff, called The Compassionate, and how horrible the filming went. [laughs] But I LOVE movie-making and film. There’s so much emotion and you can create an entire moment, but it’s a HUGE project anytime you want to do a short film or anything like that. With music, you can do anything you want with pretty much no limit. Any musician can do WHATEVER they want on their own. With movies that’s not necessarily true in the same sense, unless you have skills in animation. I love movies and music-making, but movies are less feasible for me, and I do think I have a bit more of a passion for music anyway. Music affects me more than anything else. It effects me in a multitude of ways, and I love just picking it apart, in all of its pieces. I’ll play a song several times in a row just to listen to every little part, and study it. It’s cool because of all the senses that are specific, hearing is specific but abstract. Sound is all about these vibrations traveling through the air and all these different frequencies. It’s like magic.”
If so, what do you think you’ll do in the future to satisfy that passion of movie-making? “Music videos are always an option. When I create a song, I’m always like, ‘what could this look like.’ Music videos are fun, and a great way to make people pay attention to your music. It’s a way to get visual and to also advertise. I do like to also write scripts sometimes. I’d like to make movies. It would be in the future, when I had more time and money.”
Thanks so much, girls and guys, for reading my interview with Jake! I hope you all enjoyed it and maybe received some inspiration?
If that wasn’t enough, I’ve got some FREE SONG DOWNLOADS for you! Check out:
This first one by Monostatic is FREE and is a cover of a song written by Roky Erickson, originally performed by the 13th Floor Elevators. The second one by Trapper Capper [Jake Mooneyham] is free as well, but we would greatly appreciate your support of even just a small amount of money for the song. No obligation to pay for it by any means, but I’m sure he would greatly greatly appreciate it!
xoxo — MaceyLou