JahkR has always been an outsider. Bullied at a young age for thinking and speaking differently than his peers, he poured himself into the one thing that would never make him feel ostracized: music. Inspired by his love of running track and field, he turned EDM (fast music for fast feet).
Soon, he began creating his own tracks, merging the electronic beats with hip-hop and pop to generate something uniquely his. “My music is unlike any other,” he says. “Just as I am.”
His new album, Catharsis, channels that leftover bitterness into positivity, preaching the message of rising above and realizing your destiny. Between tracks entitled “My Inspiration,” “Anxiety of Life,” and “Sunshine and Freedom,” listeners get the sense that they’re hearing JahkR’s life story — even though the album is largely non-verbal. Its heart-racing beats are as perfect for a hardcore workout as they are for a contemplative midnight drive and showcase a depth that goes beyond any singular genre.
Because of that mature depth heard in his music, we asked JahkR to name influential songs that helped shape him into the artist he is today. His picks run the gamut from classical to textbook pop and give interested audiences a brilliant insight into his artistic blueprint.
“Choosing these songs was quite the task,” JahkR says about this list, “but each one has been a major influence on me more than just my music. Creating music is more than just a good beat. It is passion. It is memories. It is the language of our feelings. It is what connects me to everyone else.”
“I’m the Melodyman,” Frontliner
Hardstyle is a beautiful and underrated genre to me that combines fast, heavy kicks with free-flowing and emotional melodies. This song is one of my personal favorites that bests represents this genre to me. It is wonderful reminder that even fast songs with heavily distorted kicks can still aid in driving fantastic chord progressions.
“The Angels Among Demons,” Instrumental Core
I have a deep passion for orchestral strings and choirs, and this song combines the classic epicness of the orchestra and the hard baseline of dubstep. This song was very influential when making “Future of Doom.” It was a great example of dramatic instruments mixed with popular drops of dubstep. I used this as a focal point in my transitions. I wanted to avoid too much bass dropping while still having effective transitions throughout the song.
Everything Michael Jackson ever did
Michael is the morality behind my music. His lyrics and production quality always had a purpose. Every song touched someone on a personal level. Since I started making music, I learned how to convey emotion the same way he did: through my own passion I put into my songs. He was the epitome of putting your heart into it.
“Elements of Life” and “Adagio for Strings,” Tiesto
These two songs are my all-time favorites from Tiesto. They were also my introduction to trance when I was a kid. It was the first time I heard strings in techno.
These two songs were the standard of trance production, at least to me. I studied these two songs intensely to understand the quality of music production and track arrangement.
I recall once looking at the play count in iTunes, and it was well over 1,000 times. The way the crowd reacted to his performance was legendary and ignited a flame in me to keep practicing and get better with my craft.
“Final Hours” and “Song of Storms,” Koji Kondo
These songs are very dear to me. They hold a lot of emotion and memories as a child and as an adult. [They are] very emotional songs and the context behind [them] makes it even more dramatic. I am a huge fan of Koji’s work. Since first hearing this as kid, I learned to tie my own memories into every song I make.
Keep up with JahkR on Twitter.