In this instalment of Earmark we get questionable answers to unanswerable questions, as Associate Composer Quinn Jacobs filters our interview through a rather unique lens.  

CMC: What is the most important lesson you would share with your past self in regards to your music? 

Quinn Jacobs: This would really depend on the form of my past self. If I was a human, I would tell myself that I would eventually be a composer, so I should start studying toward that goal as soon as possible in order to give our lifeline an even deeper connection to music. If I was a non-human animal, I’d play myself the beginning of a video featuring my music, and continue or stop based on my response. If I was an organic plant, I would hum myself the first piece of music I ever wrote. If I was an artificial plant, I would improvise a piece with myself live. 

CMC: What is a significant insight that a mentor withheld from you that has guided your practice? 

QJ: I always assumed that my 8th grade English teacher Mr. Vink was hiding things from us because he muttered a lot under his breath. Was he revealing additional important information about our assignments in secret? Was he judging us from within the anonymous haze of near-silence? I’ll never know. Unfortunately I picked up Mr. Vink’s nasty habit of ending select sentences as personal asides, which has led to, at times, full-on half-vocalized internal dialogues between Quinn and Mr. Jacobs. Although these auto-conversations don’t guide my practice, they have misguided it on more than one occasion. 

CMC: What is an important music concert you didn’t attend? 

QJ: The only concert I ever bought tickets to and then missed was Pearl Jam in 2006. My friend and I excitedly bought tickets months earlier, completely forgot about the show, and were mildly perturbed when we realized we had missed it a few weeks later. The show itself may or may not have been important. 

CMC: Tell us about a project/work of yours with which you are particularly displeased. If you feel at all inclined, you can share documentation from that project/work. 

QJ: The most displeasing projects for me are completed commissions that fail to reach their performance dates: a trio that decided they didn’t want to play my piece in 2014, a string quartet which disbanded during rehearsals of my piece in 2015, a saxophone orchestra which stopped returning my emails in 2015, a trio in 2016 that disbanded prior to rehearsals of the same piece from 2014, a university ensemble that didn’t secure the correct performers for my piece in 2017, performances that didn’t happen in 2020/2021 due to the pandemic… I WISH I could provide links to recordings of these works!! 

CMC: How have you been adapting to the pandemic? Are you still eating a lot of pickles, impulse-buying artificial plants, muttering secrets to yourself, obsessively playing the most recent Pokémon game, and re-organizing your elastic band collection? What has been your form of aristocratic enragement? 

QJ: Poorly.
Impulse-buying artificial plants. 

CMC: What haven’t you been listening to lately? You can share some links to streaming audio or video if you like! 

QJ: This is a bit of a strange question… there are so many things I haven’t been listening to! I don’t listen to podcasts, although I’ve heard from many people that I should. I also don’t listen to much music written before 1950 or after 2022, so that’s potentially billions of years of music I haven’t been hearing. As much as I can help it, I don’t listen to advertisements, and I also try to tune out the various hums of household appliances. You can easily find links to all of these things except music written after 2022, although I suspect this will change in the near future. Unfortunately none of these things don’t make their way into my music, as my practice is constantly swaying to the sounds of the past, present, and future simultaneously. 

CMC: What will get you excited about music in your next life? 

QJ: Again, this really depends on my next form. If I’m an 8th grade English teacher, I’ll be excited about quiet vocal music. If I’m a Pokémon, I’ll be excited whenever I hear the music at the Pokémon Centre. If I’m a pearl earring, I’ll get excited by musical vibrations. And if I’m something that never happened, I’ll get excited about the possibility of one day taking place.