Interview: Country Newcomer Dylan Jakobsen Writes Songs Inspired By Country’s Storytellers

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By Angela Stefano

Seattle, Wash., native Dylan Jakobsen was born during the height of grunge in the mid-’90s and grew up listening to a combination of classic rock (Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen are two artists he mentions as favorites) and “Pearl Jam and all that stuff.” He didn’t discover country music until he was a bit older, but once he did, Jakobsen found himself admiring the genre’s artists’ storytelling abilities.

“I’ve always been writing songs, and it developed into something where I’ve always wanted to tell a story in my songs,” the 21-year-old Jakobsen tells The Boot, “and country really captured that for me.”

The country newcomer released a five-song EP in November, and in comparison terms, you can hear everything from Brantley Gilbert to Blues Traveler in its tracks. What’s most impressive, however, is that Jakobsen played “absolutely everything” — every instrument — on the record.

“Growing up, I was always doing music, so I never really saw myself doing anything else, and I was like, ‘I learned guitar, now I want to learn drums; now I want to [learn] this and that and that,’” Jakobsen says, explaining how he developed his musical abilities. “I just slowly picked up my repertoire of instruments I was doing … took it one instrument at a time.”

Jakobsen is accompanied by a full band when he plays live — during his shows, he focuses on guitar, harmonica and vocals, though he admits that he’d like to try jumping to different instruments on stage in the future — but he enjoys trying out new arrangements to bring his music to life in concert.

“What you’re hearing on the record isn’t necessarily what you’re going to hear live. I’m always looking for something new and something different so you get the live experience,” Jakobsen says. “I’m not just playing the record up there; I’m actually telling the story of the record.”

On his newest single, “Can’t Believe You’re Gone,” Jakobsen shows off his skills on both guitar and harmonica. The lyrics speak of the loss of a loved one, and while they’re obscure enough to apply to many different situations, Jakobsen says that he was inspired to write the song shortly after a friend lost his grandfather.

“It’s always been something that really stood out for me as not just relatable to them or relatable to me, but relatable to a lot of people out there,” he says.

Jakobsen notes that while he’s big on storytelling in his songs, his inspiration doesn’t just come from his own life.

“With the amount of songs I write, I don’t think I could tell just my own life stories,” he says. “I’m always looking for other people’s stories and things I hear about, things my friends are going through, things people in my family are going through — really anything that draws inspiration to me.”

The Dylan Jakobsen EP is available for purchase on Jakobsen’s website; a music video for “Can’t Believe You’re Gone” is coming soon. Jakobsen has been spending plenty of time on the road, playing shows across the U.S., and will keep touring this summer; a complete list of dates is also available on his website.

Watch Dylan Jakobsen Perform an Acoustic Version of His Song “Working Man”: