Local musician and Douglas alum
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
If given just a few words to describe his work, Vancouver-based musician/Douglas College student Jason Knapp would call it, “Pop music with a slightly more cerebral feel to it.”
Knapp first studied at Douglas College for a diploma in Therapeutic Recreation, then moved to Ontario to develop both his musical and professional careers, including obtaining his Master’s in Social Work. He’s now back at Douglas for an online postgraduate program for Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, as well as making music in the local indie scene.
Knapp released his latest single, “Perfect,” an upbeat track with a soulful pre-chorus and lively chord progressions, earlier this year. Last week, the Other Press had the chance to interview Knapp about his work and his music.
In the late ’90s, Knapp was part of a band called the SkyFishermen, which received a bit of airtime on Vancouver radio station CFOX. In the late 2000s, he was part of the Toronto-based band The Mellow Revs.
Knapp has spent the past few years as a solo artist, performing and creating songs all on his own—writing, recording, producing, mixing, and releasing his music, as well as doing all of the instrumentation on recordings, aside from drums. While he’s really enjoyed the control that comes with working solo, he said it’s also had its challenges.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s also very insular, too,” he said to the Other Press. He described running the entire creative process on his own as “kind of gratifying and kind of scary too, because if it doesn’t turn out very good, I can only blame myself; I can’t blame bandmates.”
Knapp lists a wide range of artists and groups as musical inspirations. Growing up, he said he learned how to play guitar largely through listening to Beatles records, but that he’s also been shaped by a lot of early ’90s music, such as Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden; British bands like Oasis and Radiohead; some more obscure, experimental stuff like Beck’s earliest underground records; and an array of other genres and sounds.
He especially enjoys music that is familiar and approachable, but still has a tinge of something less obvious, citing The Police as an example of this style.
“For me, the best kind of music was the music that was pop and totally accessible, and yet it somehow had a little bit of originality pumped into it,” he said—a feeling he aims to convey in his own songs.
Knapp said he also finds that his career as a social worker is starting to show up more and more in his music, often unintentionally. Songs like “Perfect” and “My Right of Way” directly speak to his day job of supporting people through their struggles.
“A lot of the work I do is helping people to get out of situations that they’re in, that are very challenging in terms of how they deal with other people or systems,” he said. “I find that my lyrics this past year or two [are] really focused on that now.”
However, now that he’s had a few years to work on his own things, Knapp said he plans to get a band together and start collaborating again.
“I think I’ve made my statement of making music completely in a solitary nature,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where I think I need to get out there and expand, have a band.”
He’s aiming to find a few like-minded musicians and hopefully make a full record together—a process that should also go a lot faster with a band, rather than just one person.
To check out some of Jason Knapp’s music and keep up with his work, you can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jasonknappcanada/ or on Bandcamp at jasonknapp.bandcamp.com.