Our interview with Buffalo-based artist Jacob Didas, whose track “Rise & Fall” presents a visceral, consuming meshing of rock and hip-hop.
“Rise & Fall” meshes hip-hop precision with riveting elements of rock and electronica. What inspired this eclectic mish-mash of styles?
When I’m in the creation mode of the song, I think I get bored quite quickly unless I’m changing it up. In an effort to keep myself engaged I switch and mash up genres and styles. This can often be a bit much for a first-time listener, but after you’ve heard a track a few times it becomes a bit more welcomed, and accessible. I just love how different styles can complement one another and I like to keep it fresh.
You note how Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism influence some of your lyrical content. Is there a particular ethos, or philosophy, presented in “Rise & Fall” that you’d like listeners to pay attention to?
The beginning of the song had some strong philosophical themes. Starting off, the mention of “you know you’ve been here before right?” is a nod at reincarnation and experiencing life from many perspectives, many times over. “Come to realize I’ll never be lost, only I roam” references our subjective sense that we are lost and searching, although this is an illusion. We were always home, and playing a game, or free to “roam” this life. Feeling lost is part of the allure of being human, and the greatest illusion! If your true self had peace for eternity (as is pointed to in Hinduism), the only thing more interesting would be to feel as if you didn’t, aka living life. My lyrics are always revolving around these topics, as they are incredibly interesting and impactful for me. The rest of the song is a deliberate transition into a focus on getting overly intoxicated and being very human. It’s all about balance!
What are your thoughts on how psychedelic therapy, in combination with music therapy, can be an effective means to treat depression and anxiety?
Psychedelic therapy (using lsd, psilocybin, etc. in a medical setting) opens your mind up to experiencing unfiltered stimuli and connecting various parts of your brain that ordinarily do not communicate as much. This opens the doors to perception and results often in the deep spiritual states that people claim to experience with these substances. The addition of calming, creative music can help aid in this process as music can deeply influence the individual’s mental state. It’s like hearing sounds more deeply and meaningfully. Not that drugs are needed for this, but it facilitates the exploration of the patient’s inner experiences and, ultimately, the nature of life itself. This reflective experience helps the person to begin to heal the recurrent and difficult thought patterns associated with anxiety and depression.
What recommendations, music or otherwise, do you have for first-time visitors to the Buffalo, NY area?
While I grew up in Buffalo, I admittedly have not lived there in over a decade. I’ll be moving there next year after our twins are born. I get back there about once or twice a year and have seen some really encouraging change and growth, especially in downtown Buffalo. There are really cool, unique musical and social events on the waterfront. Also, Allen Street has a very eclectic, classic feel to it as you explore it’s various bars, restaurants, and hidden music venues.
Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?
I realized I am mainly drawn to the creation portion of music (not a big fan of editing for hours). I enjoy writing a script and lyrics for a song that also leaves space open for improvisation. For this reason, my new stuff is written and performed entirely on a looping machine. Each “session” is probably going to be around 20-30 minutes, comprised of three sections that can be performed separately on their own. Together it will be one long journey! It’ll be cool to build the whole track live in a performance setting. Maybe someday I’ll make more songs in a standard 3-4 minute style, for now I’m loving this process.
Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?
When I’m listening to music now it’s pretty much EDM, chillstep, and instrumental-type music.
If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?
Twista, gotta love the chopper-flow! He was probably my favorite artist growing up. I’d frequently bounce between his albums and punk rock.
What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?
I like being able to create sounds and rhythms from scratch. It is a true expression of my inner world. Some might find it to be too much, but so is depression. After I learned the technical side of making music from trial and error (and YouTube), it freed me to write, record, and master all my stuff independently from home. What came after is a very personal, enjoyable creation that doesn’t fit in many boxes.
What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?
I can’t say I have any experience with the professional side of the music industry. My focus was solely on creating music. I think the real challenge lies in getting your music in front of people. For better or worse, the industry is saturated with music and artists. There are plenty of schemes promising to get your music in front of many people; few of which are worth anything. The goal now is just trying to keep doing what I love, which is creating and playing music, while not worrying about the rest. Life has a way of leading itself to where it needs to be, ultimately.
What’s upcoming for the project?
Me: 20-30 minute psychedelic hip hop journeys coming to a small-medium stage near you!
Really though, it’s nice when no one has a clue who you are because you are free to create yourself as an artist. After years of traveling with the military, I’m excited to move back to Buffalo and have a bit of stability and support. I’m looking forward to establishing myself
musically in a region instead of bouncing around the country, as valuable as that experience was. I feel good about the new style of writing because it’s keeping me engaged and resulting in tracks that will certainly be more accessible for people. I’m creating it specifically for live performance so I’m excited to bring it to others.