The Power of Music
For some of us, music is an outlet to let our emotions run wild. For others, it is just something soothing we listen to here and there. For 23 year old NYC-based producer Jake Vichnis, it’s all that’s keeping him alive. “(Music) changed my life. It really enlightened me. Once I saw Jimmy Hendrix perform at Woodstock; I knew I had to be involved with music one way or another,” he recalls.
Growing up in Eastern Long Island in the small town of Sound Beach, Jake’s family took good care of him, although he claims his family was wealthier with love than they were with money. "Life was simple and we managed,” he says. But upon entering high school, finances were the least of his problems. He had trouble in the social world.
“I struggled a lot with social anxiety… I was barely passing with D’s and F’s in school. I was 228 out of 232 in my class rank. I remember coming home every day in high school getting yelled at by my parents saying I was a ‘bum’ and that I was never going to go anywhere,” says Jake. Jake’s school struggles weren’t necessarily the result of lack of knowledge, but lack of effort. He believes if he had had some idea of what he wanted to do with his life, high school would have been much different.
“It was like an Einstein effect,” says Jake. “Einstein claimed he hated math when he was young, but something clicked with him, and well the rest is history. For me, I played in the orchestra playing violin for 15 years and I hated music. Hated it! I didn’t see the point in it, and everyone always looked at me funny for that,” mentions Jake. It was only after his parents showed him a Woodstock documentary in the summer following his junior year of high school that he found inspiration in music and realized what music could do for him. “I got a job, worked, and saved all my money and bought my first guitar and amp. It was the greatest feeling in the world. Before that, I would come home from school and just sulk. I was depressed, wondering where my life was going to go. I never really found myself but music saved me,” says Jake.
Jake says that music let him identify with a feeling that he had never felt before. Jake says, “I feel that everyone can identify with music in one way or the other. After I got my guitar, I wanted to experience it all. I wanted to learn how to read and write music. Music became the only thing I wanted to live for.” After realizing this, Jake never dealt with anxiety. Nor did he feel like he had to impress anyone else. Although he was discouraged about never having dated a girl, that was not nearly as important to him anymore.
Jake put this newfound determination to learn about music in action after high school, but it took some time. His grades weren’t good enough to get him to a university. He did two years at Suffolk County Community College to try to bolster his resume for a good enough school to chase his dreams at. After receiving his associates, he took a whole year off from school, but took no time away from music. That summer following his community college graduation, he got a jazz mentor who taught him the deeper roots of jazz, a sector of music which has sprouted many stars and influential figures. He also met rap music mogul Sam Sneed, who has worked with the likes of many rap industry gods, including Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and even Jay-Z.
It was then that Jake delved into hip-hop, and mixing that with his budding knowledge of jazz gave him a unique perspective of music and the kind of music he wanted to create. After his year off he applied to nine major schools for music, Berkeley University and City College of New York being among them. He was accepted at both of those schools. Two of his top choices, and those two acceptances marked some of his biggest accomplishments to date. “I didn’t end up going to Berkeley (the bigger of the two schools) because I decided it wasn’t the right path for me, but it was an accomplishment for me that told me that I could do anything I put my mind to,” says Jake confidently.
After applying to the Sonic Arts Center at City College in his first semester and getting denied in Fall 2013, he reapplied in Winter 2014 and was accepted. Now Jake is a part of a multi-million dollar program in the Sonic Arts Program and chasing his dreams as a hip-hop producer, having interned at Sony Records and making connections in the industry, thanks to CCNY’s top-notch program.
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