We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacob Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacob, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe with any chosen career path, there are bound to be risks that you come across. Whether you’re in entertainment, tech, education, etc., there will moments where you need to assess what is to be done next, and why. In my personal experience playing and writing music professionally for the last 10+ years, I have experienced various stages of growth that have each come with their owns risks and rewards. Folks say the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.. I’m suppose that is true, but I’ve found that regardless of what risk you happen to be taking it is of vital importance to remain as true to yourself as possible and accept the challenge with your whole heart. Authenticity is something that you can’t buy, and it leaves a lasting impression on folks. Last year, I was asked to audition for NBC’s The Voice which I was initially very hesitant to do as it didn’t line up with my goals in the “type” of musician I strive to be. Upon receiving overwhelming encouragement from my inner circle I decided to accept the audition and try out. Moving forward into this new experience I made it my greatest goal to be as authentically “me” as I could throughout the process. It required me to be very honest at times (sometimes uncomfortably so) in situations where it was difficult, but when all was said and done I was able to express myself in a completely unfiltered way. I sincerely think people recognize unmoving authenticity, and have a great respect for it. Everyone is special and individual to their own person and when you honor that, it can really shine through.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a singer/songwriter from small town Wisconsin – having lived in Portland, OR for over a decade now. My personal goal with the art/music I make is to connect with listeners and create something that belongs to everyone. Music is an incredibly useful tool to both connect and empower community. I strive to use my music as a vehicle to comfort, calm, and connect folks who may have not felt recognized or understood before. The personal interest I have in playing music started when I was a young boy, singing in the church choir back in Eden, Wisconsin. When I was 12, I started playing guitar and writing songs for fun; it was a new and exciting way to express myself when sharing words alone was difficult for me. At 19, I moved across the country to Portland, OR and studied American Traditional music independently for several years before traveling/bumming the country various times, which is when I started to find my voice and perform original music/collaborate with others. After returning from travels to Portland at 21, I started a 6 piece jazz and roots band. For 7 years the group toured around the country and released 4 records. I wrote for, conducted, booked, led and managed the group during this period which was an extreme chapter of musical growth for me personally. It was a tremendous amount of work, but I viewed it as my “collage” experience in professional musicianship (i.e. running a band, composing, booking tours, etc.). In 2017 I disbanded the group to pursue my own solo career as a singer/songwriter. Since then I have released a full length album, toured the US and Europe several times, performed on national television, and worked with artists like Nick Jonas and James Taylor. It’s been a strange and learning journey, but I only view it as the beginning to a long and winding road of creative fulfillment.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I wouldn’t recommend a friend visit during these strange pandemic times – but if things were different I would have a pretty extensive list. Portland is well known for a solid music scene, delicious food and equally good coffee. Again, if COVID-19 was not an issue I would recommend the following spots… Laurelhurst Park – big lawn with pond, dog park and lovely trails Heart Coffee Roasters – top notch coffee and minimalist digs Wonderland Arcade – a nickle arcade…need I say more? Laurelthirst Public House- a go-to spot for americana, gypsy jazz, singer/songwriter and folk music Pambiche – Amazing Cuban Food Doug Fir Lounge – one of the cities greatest music venues, any night of the week there’s a solid band/act playing Powell’s Books (downtown) – a three story book shop with anything you could desire (reading-wise) Lone Fir Cemetery – super old and equally beautiful cemetery. Great for walking through or sitting down and having lunch These are a few of my personal favorite places in the city! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout my sisters, Molly and Katelyn, both of whom are my best friends and greatest source of encouragement.
Photos of black shirt/red background – Courtesy of NBC Photo of Guitar w/two other dudes – Taken by David Neff Photo of yellow shirt/white brick wall – Taken by Andrew Snyder Photo of guitar / black & white – unknown photographer