Live Bold: Interview with Jacob Wilson

How did you first get into the music scene/world?

My mom introduced me to music at a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are listening to classical music. As I got older, I remember my mom introducing me to the greats; Santana, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, classical rock and pop music. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I started to grow a love for rock and roll. I got into all the bands that were big back then. Green Day, Hoobastank, Nickelback (which I’m embarrassed to say now haha), System of a Down. As I got more into high school, I really got into the heavy bands; Underoath, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Every Time I Die, Attack Attack. Really, it was just my upbringing and a few friends during my teen years. When I was about 16, I started my first band and it’s all craziness since then haha. It’s been really cool to get to open up for some of the artists who inspired me throughout my music career. My first band opened for A Skylit Drive, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, The Sleeping. Other bands of mine have opened up for Get Scared, The Word Alive, Jamies Elsewhere, Veil of Maya, Erra, After the Burial. It’s been a wild ride, and this is only the beginning 

Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?

If we’re speaking personally, my grandparents were some of the biggest influences of my life. My grandpa taught me what it is to be a man. Not in the bullshit societal definition of masculinity though. He taught me how to be strong, but gentle. He taught me what it was to have integrity and honor. My grandma taught me to believe in myself and just go after what I love. My parents were more like, “go do something more realistic, go to law school.” There’s a lot of money in that, but I just never wanted to spend my life behind a desk. It was never my thing and I always knew that. I just wanted to be an artist, I could feel it in my bones and my soul. My grandma always believed in me and supported me in that way, Musically, System of a Down was some of the first “heavier” music I got into. I remember listening to their albums Hypnotize and Mesmerize. It blew my mind how they could go from absolute chaos to these beautifully constructed minor key harmonies. Then, Underoath came around. They were really one of the first “screamo” bands that I heard. They heavily influenced my first band and they just were musical innovators. They did things, sound wise, that really no one had done before. I remember seeing them live for the first time in high school and just being in awe. Their energy and presence was through the roof. I had chills the whole time. Recently, they just got back together and I’ve gotten to see them a couple times.  I actually covered one of their songs, “Writing on the Walls.” The video got over 18K views on Facebook and even gained the attention of some of the band. Definitely a surreal moment of my life, looking down on my phone and seeing one of the members tag their vocalists on my Instagram and say “you fired.” I almost spit my drink out hahaha. I got to meet up with them last weekend at Chain Fest and they all said my cover was amazing. It was like, a major woah moment. To pay homage to one of the most influential artists in your life, and to have them acknowledge it is truly an incredible feeling. 

Who are some of your biggest influences now? 

As I’ve grown up, I don’t really limit myself to “screamo” or metal anymore. I literally have everything from Britney Spears and Lady Gaga to Slipknot and Of Mice & Men on my phone. I think it’s really helped me grow as a musician too. I always challenge a lot of my friends in music to try to expand outside of their comfort zone. Don’t just limit yourself to one genre of music. I listen to literally almost everything; metal, rock, EDM, hip hop, some rap, soul, R&B, pop. It gives you a lot more to be inspired from and almost every innovative artist or band has combined a couple genres together. Personally, my parents have grown to influence me a lot recently, too. When we are younger, we don’t really see the sacrifices our parents make for us. Now, I see, even when I thought they were nagging or not supporting me when I was younger, they really just wanted the best for me. I think most parents are that way, and we grow up to see that later. They’re so supportive of me now and are just happy to see me happy. High school era was a rough patch for all of us.

How did you come up with your clothing line Live Bold

I was working with a music and entrepreneurship mentor who challenged me to create something for supplemental income. I always wanted to do a clothing line, but the market is so oversaturated right now. There’s so many different brands out there, and most of them fail. I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down all these different brand names I could think of. Live Bold just really stuck. Personally, it means to do everything you do with boldness, confidence. Don’t be ashamed of who you are inside, live your life boldly. If you want to do something and other people tell you its unrealistic, do it. Chase your dreams and take risks. You might fail a few times, but use those failures to learn and move on. That basically was the idea behind it. 

Why does Live Bold, your clothing line, matter so much to you? 

I think that’s a very important question. Throughout my life, I’ve always been told I wasn’t good enough. As I stated before, I was told that what I wanted to do was unrealistic. I listened to that for a while and it really got to me. I started to believe the lie, ya know? However, I changed my mindset and the people I hung around with. That’s seriously one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to anyone. Do not surround yourself with negative people with no ambition. Surround yourself with positive, hard working people who are willing to take risks; willing to live bold.  Coming out was also not an easy process. My family is kind of religious, but they’ve grown to love and accept me regardless. I lost a few friends, but the ones that matter and truly cared stuck around. It was definitely a bold process. This is who I am, and if you don’t like it, there’s the door; kind of thing. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 

I really try to keep my mind open to questions and thoughts like this.  As well as my music endeavors, I’m also studying theatre with an acting emphasis at Fresno State. I’ve been in several shows this last year, including a Rocky Horror tribute, Blue Willow ( a world premiere at Fresno State) and The Who’s Tommy with StageWorks Fresno. The ultimate goal would be to do basically what Jared Leto is doing. He is such an incredible artist, musically and dramatically. His performance in Dallas Buyers Club was so beautifully done. 30 Seconds to Mars is rocking the world. What more can you ask for, that’s pretty awesome!

I just want to be the absolute best I can be in every craft I take on. In the next 5 years, I hope to see myself having steady acting gigs and touring the U.S. (and eventually the world) with a killer rock and roll band. I’ll be moving down to Los Angeles after I graduate next year to put the pedal to the metal (all puns intended) and I couldn’t be more excited. 

When you were in high school, what did you think you wanted to do in college? 

Man, to be completely honest, I had no idea. I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I think most high school kids feel that way, especially towards the end of their high school career. Going to a community college and really figuring out what I wanted to do was one of the best decisions of my life. That’s another piece of advice I could give to younger kids, go to a community college! It saves money and gives you time to really figure out what you want to do.  I went from wanting to do theatre, to music, to journalism, and then back to theatre. I don’t think I was ready to move out into the big world back then either. 

What would you say to others out there that are struggling to embrace themselves or their identity? 

I’d say the biggest thing is to know you’re not alone. Find a support group. If your family or friends don’t offer that, its especially imperative that you talk to others and find that support. Find meetings you can go to. Make new friends that will support you. Facing identity struggles, whether with gender or sexuality, can be tough at first. It sounds cliché, but it truly does get better. There will always be narrow minded people out there, but it’s who you surround yourself with that makes the difference.

My last piece of advice: Don’t ever turn to unhealthy coping habits. It may seem to make things better at first, but it’s truly just a Band-Aid fix that will cause lots of problems and hurt in the long run. Find healthy ways to deal with life’s dilemmas: paint, go on a run, form a band, work out, draw, write poetry. I think that’s a huge problem with struggling youth in the LGBTQ community. Just know you’re not alone and there’s people out there who want to help you and who WILL love you, no matter what.