Jake Sorgen
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Jake Sorgen

Saugerties, New York, United States | SELF

Saugerties, New York, United States | SELF
Band Americana Avant-garde

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"Jake Sorgen Appears on Coffee House"

...Once he began to perform, it became clear how far he has come. It was then that he ceased to feel like a peer, and took on the presence of a notable musical figure.

The first song Sorgen performed, titled “Demons”, is from his upcoming follow-up EP to his debut LP Sudden Myth. About the process of making the new EP, Sorgen said“ I’m definitely approaching it with this concept of it being minimalistic, with as minimal stuff as possible to get across what I want to get across.” This idea was reflected in the performance, which was vocally driven. The dynamism in his guitar strumming paralleled the intensity of the lyrical content, creating a minimal yet cohesive musical message.

His next song, again from the upcoming EP, showcased what he learned at Emerson as a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major. The poetic lyrics were rich with imagery and flowery language, and his eyes-shut performance style made it seem the images were stimulating to him as they were to the listener. The depth of the lyrical content, however, in no way sacrificed accessibility. The song was complete with a memorable and infectious melody, which was highlighted by his newly adopted minimalistic style. He is recording this song, and all of the songs from his upcoming EP, in a way much different than prior recordings. “On this I’m working in the studio and with a producer,” said Sorgen. “From start to finish I have someone saying ‘we’ve got it, we’ve got to move on.’”

Sorgen closed his set with the song “Barcelona Before”, a prelude to a track released on his LP. The song is a lyrically narrative, chronicling his experiences in Barcelona while studying abroad. Much of the inspiration for his music comes from his experience traveling in Europe, and, surprisingly, the product of the inspiration is undeniably American. Sorgen explained this saying, “there is something about being away from home that made those roots stronger, it came together as writing American music about places that are not America.” This contrast in cultural influences makes for an interesting dynamic that sets him apart as a songwriter. - WERS


"Jake Sorgen Live in Studio"

Jake’s songs aren’t your usual three chords, verse-chorus-bridge-chorus affair – he spins tales and sings long-form poems that tell a story. His writing is influenced not just by his life here in Boston, but his world travels in Europe and his home in Woodstock, New York. Jake weaves his lyrics in and around intricate fingerpicking patterns, but not at the expense of the occasional full-on power chord chorus. Sudden Myth is the first LP from Jake, but he’s no newcomer to songwriting: over the last few years, in order to get to the songs on Myth, he wrote over 300 others. We expect big things to come for Jake Sorgen. - WERS.org


"Jake Sorgen Live in Studio"

Jake’s songs aren’t your usual three chords, verse-chorus-bridge-chorus affair – he spins tales and sings long-form poems that tell a story. His writing is influenced not just by his life here in Boston, but his world travels in Europe and his home in Woodstock, New York. Jake weaves his lyrics in and around intricate fingerpicking patterns, but not at the expense of the occasional full-on power chord chorus. Sudden Myth is the first LP from Jake, but he’s no newcomer to songwriting: over the last few years, in order to get to the songs on Myth, he wrote over 300 others. We expect big things to come for Jake Sorgen. - WERS.org


"The Steadfast Songsmith: Folk Musician Dabbles in New Sounds, Instruments"

Some musicians scrape together a meager fanbase by covering Top 40 songs on YouTube. Some try to propel themselves quickly to fame on shows like American Idol. And some just give up. Jake Sorgen is none of these — he prefers constant hard work.

The son of a musician, Sorgen started early, learning to play saxophone at around age seven, he said. From there, he ventured into bass guitar and mandolin, teaching himself through trial and error. He said this is a method he still employs today with new instruments.

“There’s a real joy for me in sitting down with something I’ve never touched before,” he said. “I’m pretty confident that within about 20 minutes with any instrument I could figure out enough.”

His new album, Sudden Myth, which he said incorporates sounds of folk, Americana, and country, is the result of a songwriting binge while studying abroad Kasteel Well. True to genre, the songs have a common guitar-based sound with gentle vocals. Sorgen noted the progress he has made since Glasco, his 2009 EP that featured minimalist instrumentation.

“I think that’s online somewhere, but I hope to God no one hears it,” he said with a laugh. “It was my first attempt.”

He said the making of his first record was a necessary step in the learning process of being an artist. Through it, he learned the basics of recording. He said his second release, Remarkable Feeler, includes demo versions of sounds from his current album, although they’ve been almost completely altered.

“That was my first time on my own,” he said, having recorded the album over a span of a couple days in his empty apartment last January. “It taught me a lot of self-discipline, saying ‘now we need to add stuff’ or, now we need to stop.’”

Despite Sorgen’s natural affinity for music, he admitted there was a time he considered giving it up during high school summer “band camp” at the Crane School of Music.

“It was very intense and very classical-based,” he said. “We’d get a break for the evening and I would want to go do something … and everyone there was like, ‘I’m going to the practice room. I have to do this.’ And it was like, ‘Whoa, that’s just not me.’”

At first, though, he took the crisis too far.

“From then I sort of falsely took that to mean music in general is not for me,” he said, “not seeing that it just isn’t that path that’s for me.”

Instead, Sorgen chose to incorporate music into every other aspect of his life.

“In the same way that I am interested in the way that non-musical projects inform my music, I am equally interested in the way that I can use music in a variety of settings, whether it be in an academic environment, composing for theater, film, or TV, or any other opportunities that could arise,” he said in a follow up email.

At age 16, Sorgen got a high school internship at a hometown radio station and fell in love with the medium. By the summer after graduation, Sorgen was promoted to the position of Production Director of the station.

“It’s pretty incredible to be 18 and to be running the production department of a radio station,” he said.

Now, as a web editor in the music department at the college’s widely popular station WERS, Sorgen incorporates his previous radio knowledge and music expertise into his work.

Of course, he’s already moved on to his next project, a venture into unexplored territory: reworking traditional Irish songs in the WERS studios.

Sorgen said his interest in a culture that is not his own stemmed from the Irish origins of the folk music he already plays. He added in his email that he isn’t transforming his entire sound.

“I think that my playing,” he wrote, “while rooted in that Irish tradition, is still very distinctively ‘me.’?”

What Sorgen says really sets him apart from his contemporaries is not his range of knowledge in different musical and non-musical subjects alike, but the “release of preciousness” in his music.

“I’m playing the whole instrument. I’m not just playing the strings on the guitar. The buzz, my elbow knocking up against it, that’s all part of the sound,” he said in the interview. “To some people it may come off as unpolished, but to me, that’s the real thing.”
- The Berkeley Beacon


"Album Review: Sudden Myth by Jake Sorgen"

"Layered and experimental, Jake Sorgen’s new album Sudden Myth offers an intriguing flavor of folk. Sorgen’s diverse instrumentation and artful arrangements add depth to this debut full-length. Evoking peaceful images of mountaintops and moonlight in one song and painting a bleak picture of city streets in the next, Sorgen takes us on a colorful and original sonic journey, with his guitar as the guiding light..." - The Berkeley Beacon


Discography

In Transit (2013)
Sudden Myth (2012)
Remarkable Feeler (2011)
A Night at the Opera (2010)
- (featured saxophonist with BLOB)
Glasco (2009)

Photos

Bio

In one evening of solo music, Jake Sorgen has the ability to take audiences from lyrical folk to avant-garde improvisation without skipping a beat and without diluting either one. His sound is distinct and seamless as he moves from guitar to saxophone and delivers lines of hard-driving lyricism and lyrics with an intense musicality.

With his upcoming project, In Transit, Jake has begun to merge his somewhat unorthodox musical upbringing in free improvisation with his ear and academic-like knowledge of American and Anglo folk music. Of the new songs, recently fine-tuned on a New England tour, one writer said The dynamism in his guitar strumming paralleled the intensity of the lyrical content, creating a minimal yet cohesive musical message.the depth of the lyrical content, however, in no way sacrificed accessibility.

Veering away from the electronics-driven world that more and more drives "experimental" music, Jake Sorgen's sounds are organic and all the more powerful to audiences for what he achieves through body, breath, and mind.