Jake Robison is a talented songwriter from Fort Worth with a sound that screams Fort Worth. Mostly folk, but occasionally tripping into more traditional country music, his debut album, Como Mansion, released in December, is calm and lovely take on alt-country. Jake sat down and took the time to answer these questions that I didn’t take the time to come up with specifically for this interview.
Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?
JR: I joined a couple of bands playing as a sideman for several years when I moved to Fort Worth after high school – that really helped me cut my teeth as a performing musician and singer..fun times. Somewhere around late 2012, after the last band I was in dismantled, I started writing and performing as a solo artist. With the support and encouragement of a lot of local musicians, I started growing little by little and finally cut an album of my own last year. I can’t say that I do this for a living as I work full time at a motorcycle dealership to support my family. I’m a father who writes songs in the spare bedroom about experiences I have had or have experienced through people I have met. My wife is extremely supportive and now that the record has released, I look forward to playing more live shows again, getting back out there, and taking it all day by day. I would love to somehow find a way to write music for other people or get involved with placing songs on television, movies, etc, along with performing live, so that I could always be close to home.
Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
JR: I never know how to answer that question, but I guess the standard reply is typically “folk” or “singer-songwriter” stuff.
Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?
JR: I fell in love with music after hearing the Beatles, so they probably get credit for starting to listen to music differently than I did before that. My main influences though, would be John Prine, Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams, Wilco, and a ton more Americana/Singer-songwriter types – I really just love music that makes me feel something – and that is a pretty broad scope.
Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?
JR: That is a hard question as I have emotional ties to a lot of my tunes and typically I love the most recent one that I ahve written. All in all though, I would probably say “Blue & Trains” as I wrote it about my wife when we were dating when I felt like I had finally found someone who understood me….and put up with my antics. When I sing that song live, I tend to connect more frequently than with other tunes.
Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
JR: 100%, it would be John Prine. I would love to have the opportunity to hang out with him and my father would be even more excited as he showed me a lot about writing through Prine’s albums as a kid…even if I didn’t understand what he was showing me at the time.
Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?
JR: I don’t know how “new” all of them are but there are tons of local guys and gals from Fort Worth who are amazing musicians and writers. It’s crazy to me how much talent is right here in town and from neighboring cities. Jacob Furr and I have become good friends in recent years and I love what he does. Thomas Flynn is one of my favorite writers and was one of the original people who encouraged me to take a stab at serious songwriting – he is busy behind soundboards a lot these days, but when he performs, it’s greatness. I know I will miss people and regret it later so I hate to even attempt to make a list of everyone – they all know who they are as I try my best to support them anytime I can by going to their shows or reaching out to let them know I dig what they are doing.
Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?
JR: This is almost impossible to answer, but if I must, I’d say the white album [Beatles]. I’ve love that record since I was a kid.
Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?
JR: I don’t think I have a least favorite thing – from the music venues to the musicians, everyone is extremely supportive of each other – I love it.
Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?
JR: My heart lives at Magnolia Motor Lounge – they have supported me since day one, the sound is always great, the staff is awesome, and you can typically find musical gold there seven days a week. That being said, I really think all the music venues are very supportive and offer a great place to perform and listen.
Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?
JR: I recently discovered Garrett Owen and was blown away – super nice guy as well. Taylor Tatsch turned me onto him as he recorded his record at Taylor’s studio after I did — I’ve heard it…and when it releases, I expect great things for him. He has mastered his craft as a player and performer and it’s awesome to see live — go see him next time you can.
Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
JR: Some people in Fort Worth remember me as a comedy musician. I did a duo thing for a while with a buddy at comedy clubs and such and then after that I played a lot of open mics around Fort Worth because I loved being on stage and making people laugh. I even took a stab at stand-up comedy for a bit. Every once in a while, someone will request a “funny song” at a show, but I typically decline…those usually only come out at late night jams with friends…which probably means I’ve stayed up a bit too late.
Shout out to Jake Robison for wasting time with me. Everybody should go check out his record, Como Mansion, which I’ve conveniently attached below. It’s pretty great. Also, get out and catch Jake at a show in support of the album. He’ll be performing at Magnolia Motor Lounge for their Holiday Hangover Recovery event on New Year’s Day.