Working for the Weekend with Jason Corbett

By Johnny Papan

by Shannon Hemmett

VANCOUVER – Jason Corbett has been an established name in the Vancouver music scene for over 20 years. Beginning as a long-haired shreddy guitarist during his angsty teens, Corbett’s style would soon evolve into something on the opposite end of the musical spectrum.

Currently the owner and operator of Jacknife Sound, his own recording studio, Corbett has produced various Vancouver artists including: LEATHERS, Sex With Strangers, Art d’Ecco, and his own band, darkwave synth-rock group ACTORS.

Corbett is a full-time working musician and composer. When he’s not recording his own band, or producing other artists, Corbett scores music for entertainment. He has done work for big-time video game companies such as EA Sports and Sega, and scored seasons one and two of the Canadian TV series Letterkenny, just to name a few of his many projects.

It’s clear Corbett eats, sleeps, and breathes music. BeatRoute got the chance to ask him a few questions about his journey.

BeatRoute: Your biography says you were once a long haired shredder. Your current dark, new-wave synth style sound is far from that you would hear at a Slayer concert. Can you talk about your influences from your long-haired days to some artists that inspire you now? Do you still listen to those bands from your youth?

Jason Corbett: The more I look back on my influences, the more I realize that the 80s synth sounds were always a part of what I was listening to. As much as I was into metal as a teen, I was just as into Depeche Mode or Duran Duran. David Bowie is tops for me though, even when I was learning Master of Puppets on guitar at 14 years old. I think what ties it all together is that there has always been an element of darkness to what I enjoy and create.

The Soft Moon, Drab Majesty, Cold Cave, and Exploded View are all examples of contemporary
artists that I find inspiring musically but really there’s so many more. And yes, I for sure still listen to bands from my youth. Right now I’ve been on a Celtic Frost and The Danse Society binge.

BR: To support yourself, you used to be a restaurant manager. You now work in music full-time, how long did it take you to get to this point and can you talk a bit about the journey? Did you have any other sort of day jobs?

JC: I worked in restaurants for so long I wasn’t sure I would ever get out.

I tried construction, retail, and a few other odd jobs when I came back to Vancouver after attending music college but there was nothing else that I enjoyed or could stick with. It’s a flexible enough job that you can work on albums, play shows and tour. It’s also a very social job and I really enjoyed that aspect. I essentially worked double duty between restaurants and music until music just took over.

BR: Are there any similar parallels between working in the restaurant business and music business?

JC: Late nights and rampant alcohol and drug use? Just late nights for me!

Aside from making music with your group ACTORS, and producing for other artists at your studio, you have also done music for film, television, and even big time video game companies like EA and Sega. Was this something you anticipated being a part of your career? What led you to composing for entertainment?

JC: I joke that I’ll develop a successful music career in film by accident. Really it’s been about relationships and the support of some great people in my life that have exposed me to these opportunities. For example, to be a part of a show like Letterkenny in my small way is super exciting and rewarding. I love it!

BR: You own your own professional studio, Jacknife Sound. How long did it take you to build this studio, what are some things about it that separate it from others?

JC: My home was overtaken with synthesizers and guitars so it was time to move into a space I could work out of 24/7. I found a cool room that worked and named it Jacknife Sound. I’m perpetually in gear acquisition mode so I don’t think I’ll ever stop “building.”

People tell me it’s a fun and relaxed space that they enjoy creating and working in. I’m proud of that.

BR: You also take part in promoting live events such as “Jacknife Sound Presents…” as well as “Common Courtesy,” a show in which 100% of the proceeds are donated to charity. How did you get involved with Common Courtesy, and which charity/types of charities are donated to?

JC: I was involved with charity work in the DTES at my last restaurant management job. I found it rewarding so it just made sense to incorporate that element into some of the work that I do with music. My Common Courtesy partner and ACTORS bandmate Adam Fink is an amazing guy who works tirelessly to help make these projects a success. I couldn’t do it without him. We’ve worked with Kids Up Front, A Better Life Foundation, and most recently Girls Rock Camp Vancouver!

BR: What do you think are the basic necessities for a musician just starting out in building their own studio, whether it be at home, on a budget, or otherwise?

JC: I think you should ask yourself how serious you want to get and what kinds of music you are going to be doing. A good computer, quality interface, and the best headphones and studio speakers you can comfortably afford would be a safe first step.

BR: Your whole life seems to revolve around music, what else do you enjoy?

JC: I was thinking about this question for a while. It seems at the moment, music is getting 110% of me and I couldn’t be happier.

Jason Corbett is performing with ACTORS on June 8 at Fortune Sound Club.