By ZOE BERGER
University High School student Jake Wigal (Sr.) is a singer-songwriter with professional albums on iTunes. He has recently performed in venues such as Chain Reaction in Anaheim, as well as in school-related events, like the Hope Festival. His music is continually evolving as he explores his talent, and he was kind enough to share his experiences and influences as a musician.
Wigal credits his older brother as his main musical inspiration and looks up to him as a role model in his music career. “My brother is a singer-songwriter in Nashville and seeing him write songs and play in bands while he was in high school really impacted me and helped me explore my own musicality,” said Wigal. His other musical influences include Chance the Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Elliott Smith, FKA Twigs, Lauryn Hill, Jaden Smith, Vampire Weekend, Kanye West, Yung Lean, Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan. He describes his music style as “2000s vibey rooftop dance club lounge hip hop.” As he explores different genres, he blends styles from all different eras to create a unique sound.
Wigal draws from personal experience as inspiration for most of his songs. “I do my best to communicate how I’m feeling, and I find that I’m best at expressing myself through music instead of any other medium,” said Wigal. “One song could take me a few hours to write and from 30 hours to 100 hours to produce; it really depends on the complexity of each one.”
As rigorous and tiring as creating and performing original music may be, Wigal considers the process very fulfilling. He said, “Writing, recording and producing every part of every song myself and doing it all on my dollar makes the experience worth it.” He created a home studio entirely dedicated to recording and producing his songs, completely decked out with all the necessary equipment. The time, money and effort he pours into his work demonstrate his passion for music and show his dedication to his craft. “The most rewarding experience for me is going into my bedroom studio and creating something entirely new,” said Wigal.
The originality of his work is apparent in his distinctive sound, shown in his second album, Nala. “Nala came out in September and is some of my most upbeat music I’ve ever made; it just makes you feel good to hear it. I also gave all the proceeds from the album to the Precious Life Foundation, which helps women and children suffering from abuse in Zimbabwe, Africa,” said Wigal. He raised over $300 for the Precious Life Foundation, which he first interacted with when he spent three weeks in Africa over the summer on a mission trip. He previously released his first album on iTunes, Scavengers, in October 2013, and this album was also well-received.
Wigal recently released his newest album, Thrill. “Thrill has a darker sound to it. The album has these floating, ethereal melodies contrasted with really brash, wounded vocals and raw moments. I really pushed my boundaries in the writing process for Thrill. I’m not a rapper, but I’m rapping to push my boundaries as a sort of self-experimentation,” he said. Thrill is autobiographical, in the sense that Wigal put details into his songs that reflect what happened in his life during that time. “Lyrically, it’s a poetic look at life’s unpoetic moments. The songs are about relationships, but they’re more about the feelings in the moment than they are about a person. I really like that whole ‘the fall’ kind of imagery, like where Eve handed Adam the apple, where you’re taken from heaven to hell, that whole idea that love is corruption and also salvation. There’s a lot of duplicity in the songs’ characters, especially in ‘Ignite,’ where I refer to her as my angel but also my temptress.”
Wigal also worked on the visuals for Thrill, including the album art and the music video. He recently started selling t-shirts on his website, iamscavengers.com. “Expanding into different fields like this is teaching me how to make business decisions and market myself,” said Wigal.
He considers himself very fortunate to be able to work on his career and grow musically as he goes through high school, but he has big plans for the future. He has decided to attend University of Texas, Austin and major in Urban Studies and continue his music career. “The majority of the turning points in my life have been recently. I’m evolving now a lot musically and individually,” said Wigal. His enthusiasm is evident in his music, which is available for free at soundcloud.com/iamscavengers.