Jacob Taswell Wide.jpg

I am a Washington, D.C.-based composer and producer making music that does not adhere to conventional genres. My music opens private spaces of possibility in a mostly public and defined world.

I work primarily in the non-performative, individually experienced medium of recorded sound, making music for my own albums, as well as for video, dance, and other disciplines. My work frequently references the sounds of rock bands while creating new organizational structures and meanings for these sounds through digital musicmaking techniques. This approach involves processing acoustic and electronic sound sources and patterning these sounds across complex, flowing rhythmic spaces with the aid of software.

In 2019, I released the five-track EP Jamais Vu on New Amsterdam Records’ Windmill Series. The music on the EP came out of a long effort to articulate my evolving sense of artistic identity. During this project, which lasted for about two years after I graduated from college, I repeatedly wrote and rewrote the songs on the EP, working to shape a swarm of influences, inclinations, ideas, and ambitions into something substantive and authentic. In the process, I learned how to use Logic (software) to much greater effect, and I developed my ear significantly. My compositions also exceeded the scope of what is feasible for me to perform live.

On a personal level, I began having increasingly severe feelings of anxiety and sadness during this period. These feelings were more than a marginal part of my experience as a composer. If I made any creative progress on a given day, my sense of satisfaction was quick to evaporate in the face of negative thoughts. Unproductive days were worse. Still, composing electronic music was absorbing, even if my thoughts turned sour when I stopped. In the moment, composing gave me access to fascinating virtual spaces. It was a temporary departure from my reality, which at times became unbearable.

As I worked — or, more accurately, as I lived my life concurrently with this project — I encountered the vast divide between my music and the outside world again and again. I had great privilege to be able to undertake a project like this, and I wondered how isolated experimentation and self-expression could be valuable to any larger contingent of society. In particular, how could this sort of project be worthwhile today, as our society and our physical world plunge ever deeper into crisis?

Jamais Vu captures the tension for me between private consciousness and shared reality. Music can be a protective envelope — with the potential, ultimately, to be suffocating — or it can be a powerful source of healing, creating an equilibrium between these spaces. It must be true, even if indirectly, that the healing and strengthening of individuals makes the collapse of our society and the destruction of our planet a shred less likely.

Artwork & photos on home page by Shu Ohno