Some musicians live for the rush of a sold-out crowd and an audience cheering their name. Guitarist and singer Jake Boyer is most comfortable when nobody is watching.
Boyer, a local singer-songwriter, said he hates the label but struggles to qualify his style otherwise. He said he doesn’t disparage those who know who they are and what their niche is, but he has immense respect for musicians who float freely across genres, something evident in his personal style.
“I don’t want a brand that I have that I write from,” Boyer said. “I want to do projects with people that are more about coming together and creating something that’s its own album, its own EP, its own work of art, rather than it just being about the artist.”
The desire to draw focus away from the artist in favor of the project at hand is a philosophy that runs deep in Boyer’s artistry.
Boyer said his music is an amalgam of planned chords and improvisation, especially in his lyrics. He has trouble writing lyrics that stick and said he prefers to draw his words from the here and now.
Boyer’s free-flowing songs match the open chords and soaring vocals of his pseudo-compositions. His music is a catharsis for him — a kind of therapy he said can make him feel naked on stage.
“I use music, I think, to feel better,” Boyer said. “I want to say these things that I feel like I can’t say, or I’m scared to say, or I don’t know how to say in a context, so I’m just gonna make a context and then say them in that context.”
Boyer’s reserved, unassuming demeanor melts away during performances that are equal parts explosive and soothing, but always deeply emotional. His raw, dynamic delivery belies a musician who said he isn’t entirely comfortable playing for an audience.
“I just get nervous in front of crowds,” Boyer said. “Not because I think they’re not gonna like it, but because I know its hard for me to stick to something.”
This performance anxiety is coupled with a fear of compromise. Boyer said he worries his music will become something else in order to please the crowd. As such, his performance for Columbus’ Own is only his second in over four years. The first took place in late October at Kafe Kerouac, a campus mainstay for small-time musicians. He said he plans to start playing more open mics at local venues like The Shrunken Head.
Despite his apprehension for playing on stage, Boyer has been playing to himself for years. He said he picked up guitar in middle school, combining his adolescent love of alternative pop and Christian music with the broad, classic influences of his beloved guitar teacher. Boyer said his teacher exposed him to everything from Bob Seger to The Faces to Pink Floyd.
Boyer said he now listens to a wide variety of music and takes heavy influence in his playing from English singer-songwriter Ben Howard and American indie-folk group Fleet Foxes, but he tries to learn from everything he hears.
“I think piecing together all of the things you love about every single piece of music you listen to is how you make your own music,” Boyer said. “Especially for someone like me, who, I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure out what my voice is.”
Jack Long, Lantern TV special projects director, and Oliver Boch, Lantern TV arts and life director, also contributed to this story.