By KARA POUND
With three kids and a full-time gig at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre as marketing and client services coordinator, Jake Brown doesn’t have much time to play music these days. But that doesn’t stop him from bringing a bit of it into everything he does. For starters, Brown will be DJing the St. Augustine Record Fair Sunday — his fifth time doing so.
A St. Augustine resident since January 2001, Brown was born on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and spent most of his childhood in Niceville. He has played bass guitar, keyboard and drums and has sang in bands such as Twothirtyeight out of Fort Walton Beach, Decahedron and Frodus out of Washington, D.C. and St. Augustine groups like The Eastern Wave, Dredger and Veranear. Compass caught up with Brown to learn a bit about how he made it to the Nation’s Oldest City, his musical history and the art of DJing. Here’s part of that conversation.
Compass: Why did you move to St. Augustine?
Jake Brown: After graduating from Niceville High School in 1999, I had the opportunity to join my favorite band in Northeast Florida — a band called Twothirtyeight. We wrote an album called “Regulate the Chemicals” and toured extensively during the summer of 2000. Though I was extremely proud of the work I did with Twothirtyeight, I felt the need to follow through with my education. At the time, my best friend was attending Flagler College and St. Augustine seemed like an intriguing place to be.
Compass: Tell me about your musical background.
J.B.: As a senior in high school, I started a record label with my best friends called Computer Club Records. Initially, the plan was just to release our own bands’ album, but I fell head-over-heels in love with the process of designing and hand-packaging physical releases. I quickly started taking the label more seriously. I started with short-run releases for local Northeast Florida bands and as my world expanded from touring with Twothirtyeight, the variety of bands I worked with grew. Also, at the time, I loved working with HTML and doing Web design. Having a Web presence in 1999-2000 was awesome. I would get the weirdest demos in the mail from all over the world because of it.
Compass: You’ve played in a bunch of different bands over the years.
J.B.: In 1999, when I joined Twothirtyeight on bass guitar, it was a dream come true. They were the reason I started going to shows and getting involved in local music. They gave me the opportunity to record an album in West Palm Beach with the amazing James Wisner (Further Seems Forever, Dashboard Confessional) and create lifelong friendships with other Florida bands that I loved. In 2002, I started Moments in Grace. Initially, I started the band as a vehicle for Jeremy Griffith’s music. He’s a friend and incredible singer-songwriter whose solo music I’d released on Computer Club. We were shocked at how quickly the band gained momentum. In 2005, I joined Decahedron, which was a big deal for me. In 2006, I started En Masse, which later became The Eastern Wave, and had the chance to work with my favorite drummer, Steve Kleisath of Further Seems Forever and Strongarm. We recorded our first EP, the “Alarm EP,” at the Magpie Cage Recording Studio in Baltimore with J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines), which was another pivotal experience for me.
Compass: I know that you have three young kids. Do you still find time to play music?
J.B.: Veranear is my main project currently, but I’m taking a break while the kids are still so little. I have a full-length album that’s been 99 percent complete since October 2014. Three kids are no joke. Also, Moments in Grace has talked about working on some new music. Not sure what will happen with that just yet.
Compass: How did you get into DJing?
J.B.: I don’t think I ever would’ve been interested in DJing if it hadn’t been for Dan McCook at WFCF 88.5. As a communications major at Flagler College in 2006-2007, I had to take a radio class. Dan quickly noticed my experience with music and gave me no option but to host a radio show and become the student music director. I was hesitant at first but absolutely loved it. I DJ’d beyond graduation — I had a show called “Hyperventilation System” on WFCF until 2011. In 2012, I decided to start DJing live for events and weddings. My wife and I started a business called Hear Hear DJ Services.
Compass: How do you choose what music to play? Based on the audience, on your own likes, or a combination of the two?
J.B.: It depends on the event, I guess. When I was on WFCF, it was purely my own likes, which typically is a moody and weird listening experience. As it turns out most people don’t want to hear lots of Tears for Fears, Black Heart Procession and whatever weird thing I’m listening to on cassette lately. Nowadays, I’m much more of a facilitator for the audience, which is great. I love it. I just want people to have a great soundtrack for their time hanging out, dancing, drinking, buying records or whatever. Luckily, there are things I genuinely love and appreciate across all genres of music.