Student Story: Jo Jakubowski Discusses Music Community in Denver and at DIME

Jo Jakubowski is an MSU at DIME Denver Music Industry Studies student and was a member of our very first cohort at DIME Denver.

Jo sat down with DIME to discuss his experiences as a student and the similarities and differences between the broader local music community and the DIME Denver student music community. He also shared insight from his experience as the event organizer of a DIME Student Showcase at Denver’s Seventh Circle Music Collective.

Jo said that attending school encouraged him to connect with musicians he’d seen around but never networked with. “Alex Morales and I have been in the same DIY Circles for 10 years…but we’d never talked. But when I found out he was going to school [at DIME] too, we just hit it off.”

DIME: What do you think keeps people from connecting when you’re in the same music scene for so long?

Jo Jakubowski: It can be intimidating. It’s one of those things where if you don’t get introduced, it usually doesn’t happen. In the local music scene, it’s very secular. Depending on what genre you play, those are the people you hang out with.

DIME is somewhat odd. I expected it to be more similar to the local music scene when I started, because I’m used to DIY shows at Rinoceropolis, and going to weird noise shows. So, when I started I just expected to meet freaks like me, who were into making experimental music. But when I got here, I met people from genres and styles that I never thought existed in Denver at all.

For example, I met (DIME student drummer) Levi Herring, who’s in the band Money Thinks I’m Dead. I’d never gone to a local show where I’d heard a band like Money Thinks I’m Dead. So, in the local music scene it’s really easy to stay where you are and not know there are other musicians out there doing it differently than you.

Would you say there’s a value to immersing in a very specific genre and to getting a sense of what musicians in other genres are up to?

Absolutely. It’s a give and take thing. Sometimes I get uncomfortable when I listen to other people’s music, because I wonder if I could do that. I’m an experimental artist. When I listen to something easy to listen to that’s great, it intimidates me.

I think that’s one of the most important experiences you can have at music school- to be intimidated by those around you so you can push yourself further. So, recently, I have tried to make the music that I like to make and know how to make, but then take elements I’ve learned from other students here and add that in.

So I think it’s only improved me as an artist… I haven’t met anyone here that I’ve been put off by their music. I have genuine respect for all the musicians at DIME.

You took the initiative to put on a student showcase at Seventh Circle Music Collective in your first year at DIME which has now become an annual event. Can you tell me about that?

It’s so much fun to put on. I started doing it because in my first semester I realized there were a lot of genres and a lot of music here and I wanted to see it all at one show. Also, there were some musicians who had never played a show before, so I wanted to put together a showcase opportunity for them.

How did it go?

The first one was tragic. It was organized poorly- by me [laughing]. I blame myself. On top of being three days before Christmas, it was really cold. It was being put together less than a month ahead of time. And there was a blizzard, so half the bands couldn’t make it. The only people there were the few bands that actually made it there to play.

The second one was better. It was a summer show, closer to the weekend and the end of the semester. I learned a lot that first time, and the second time went so much better. Keeping on time and making sure you don’t cut anyone short is challenging. We had ten bands this last showcase. But this past one was amazing. Bands like Waxcat and Sugarweather and Desert Locals. It’s fun to put on and to hear everyone’s music and see everyone get so into it.

Did you know Aaron Saye from Seventh Circle before coming to DIME?

JJ: I did. He’s what everyone in music should strive to be. He’s incredibly kind and generous, and he’s such a hard worker. If a band says they want a tour, he’ll book them a tour. Since he started running Seventh Circle, he’s put on shows about five days per week. In 2017, I played there at the ten year anniversary.

What I love about Seventh Circle is…It’s so easy to be selfish in music, because you’re worried about your own livelihood. Aaron Saye figured out that it’s easier to help everyone around you and be DeFacto held up by them than it is to only push what you’re doing in music. That’s why he does Seventh Circle. It’s an all-ages space, and he doesn’t limit bands from playing just because they don’t have a record or lots of fans already. It’s a great thing for a scene full of talented, emerging artists.

Want to learn more about what MSU Denver at DIME students are up to? Join us each First Friday for live music from local and student bands! Learn more >>