Published: Thursday, February 12, 2009 in the Crimson White
Computer programmer by day and singer/songwriter by night, David W. Jacobsen has been writing and performing his own music for more than 15 years.
Jacobsen, an independent recording artist from downtown Jersey City, uses his music to cover a wide range of topics, from comedic anecdotes to more serious social commentary. The music is predominantly acoustic but with some synth-pop and rock thrown into the mix.
He writes both music and lyrics which he records on his own label, Zbokth Productions, (meaning ‘dandruff’ in Albanian).
Jacobsen attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied music theory.
His album “Footprints” was voted 10th in the top albums of 2005 by Upstage Magazine. His song "Christmas in Jersey City" received an award in the Great American Song Contest, according to his Web site, davidwj.com.
Jacobsen has produced nearly an album per year since he began recording. His most recent album, “Walking Away from Wonderland,” debuted in 2008.
The album is a follow-up to “Footprints,” and it deals with losing touch with friends, lovers and often yourself as time passes.
CW: Can you compare yourself or your music to any other singer/songwriter?
Jacobsen: Dan Burne, but he’s not the most well-known guy. He’s more famous than I am but still no one’s ever heard of him. And Phil Ochs, who was a contemporary of Bob Dylan. There aren’t a whole lot of contemporary top-40 people who sound like me.
CW: How would you describe the feel of your music and lyrics?
Jacobsen: It’s sort of a mixture of singer/songwriter folk music with an element of humor and poetry and a quirky nature. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time it isn’t a complete joke.
CW: What inspires you to write your songs?
Jacobsen: Some of it is just from the daily aspects of life. This album is mostly about letting go of people who move in and out of your life, like when friends wind up in relationships and they’re not there anymore. I try to write songs that aren’t entirely biographical. I get inspiration from watching the news and reading books and watching movies. In my song “By Sunday,” some guy owes money to people who could break his legs if he doesn’t pay them back, and that’s definitely not an experience of mine.
CW: What kind of venues do you perform at?
Jacobsen: Bars and cafes throughout New Jersey and New York. Every now and then I’ll do a little trip. I tend to try and play where there will be people I don’t know instead of traditional venues in N.J. and N.Y. I like Starbucks shows because people usually write them off. They’re not there to hear music; they’re there to drink coffee, but sometimes I can grab someone’s attention and sell a CD to a person who didn’t know me before.
CW: How is your newest album different from your past albums?
Jacobsen: I made more of a conscious effort to keep it stylistically consistent on this one. A lot of times I mix it up with a rap track, a synth-pop track, or a piano ballad. I did break out the mandolin for this album because I’m trying to use more folksy and rootsy stuff to get a different sound.
CW: Is making music your career or do you do something else as well?
Jacobsen: Software. Music is my second job in a sense, but it’s not particularly lucrative. I do have friends who have made a living through music, but they’re generally not writing their own music. It’s hard to make a career out of it unless you really compromise what you’re doing.
CW: Is it your goal to hit it big or would you rather stay local and keep playing where you have been?
Jacobsen: I’d like to become more popular little by little.