Jacob Critch might remind you of someone. It may or may not be his comedian dad, Mark, but it might also be someone else; a different Canadian celebrity, known for his music and his hairstyle — and his bad boy antics and the hordes of screaming girls.
“If he turned out like Justin Bieber, I’d tell him what Dad told me when I was starting,” the elder Critch said of his son. “Always be aware of how you act in public because even when you don’t know it, people around you will know who you are. And be careful to the people you meet on the way up because you’ll meet the exact same joes on the way down. Dad told me that when I was about Jacob’s age in the mall one day when buying socks. Then I’d ask Jacob how much he weighed to see if I could pull off spanking him for the first time without getting a hernia.”
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Jacob, 17, is an aspiring singer/songwriter and music producer who has just dropped his debut album as part of this year’s RPM Challenge. Started in 2008 by The Wire alternative newspaper in New Hampshire, the challenge sees musicians and aspiring musicians attempt to write and record either 10 songs or 35 minutes of music during the month of February.
As of last week, Jacob had three songs to go. He’s been doing everything by himself, from the writing to the music (both digital and acoustic), to the recording and mixing, all on a little set-up he has at home in his room.
Jacob’s love of music started in Grade 4 guitar club, he said.
“I stopped guitar lessons and started taking piano lessons, because it’s just so useful for recording,” he explained, adding he now takes voice lessons as well.
He got his own recording gear about three years ago and started producing other people’s music, namely his cousin Cody Winsor, a.k.a. Tony Delicious. Eventually he got into singing his own stuff, although his main interest still lies in production.
“I’d listen to some R&B artists and try to copy their vocal runs,” said Jacob, who admits he’s influenced by Bieber, but more so by artists like Usher and Brian McKnight. “I heard about the RPM Challenge last year, but I guess I thought I wasn’t ready at that point.”
This year, having already recorded a fair number of tunes — including a Christmas recording with his piano teacher, Andrew Reid — which he regularly posts on SoundCloud, Jacob felt ready to give it a shot.
“I go in and try different ideas out, different melodies, and then I’ll add drums. Sometimes I’ll have the whole track done before I write (the lyrics),” he said of his musical process.
“The RPM Challenge forces you to make songs so quickly, it’s really been a learning process.”
This is the last day to submit an album to the RPM Challenge, and Elling Lien, who has organized the local challenge since 2009, since the response has been great so far.
“I’ve been hearing from a lot of new people who are trying the challenge for the first time. It’s gotten to the point where I can overhear strangers talking about their projects, say, in a café or something. It’s just incredible to me that the RPM has that kind of impact.
“I’m really excited to hear more of what Jacob has recorded. What I’ve heard so far sounds really cool, and it’s really different than a lot of local music. There’s hardly any contemporary pop R&B happening here. Encouraging diversity in the music scene is one thing I think the RPM has been able to accomplish here, and I’m happy about that — more young people, different genres, more women.”
Lien is recording his own RPM album with the help of a tiny piano and the feathered patrons of his backyard birdhouse bar, Junco’s Pub.
“The Junco’s Pub RPM turned out to be harder to accomplish than I thought, but I have it running now and we’ll see what we get by the end of the day. Maybe a blue jay will come bang out some jazz.”
There’s still time to submit your RPM album, if you’re still putting on the finishing touches — the finish line event will take place at the Rocket Room, above Rocket Bakery (where there is also a drop-box set up to take albums on CD or jump drive), from 4-5:30 p.m. You can also submit your album online— visit http://bit.ly/1Qhekhp for more details.