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Jennifer Mann and Jake Allen are “Both kind of into the esoteric”

The sight of music: unfolding ten proggy instrumental songs, each tied to a painting

Jake Allen: partnership is bringing some color to his compositions.
Jake Allen: partnership is bringing some color to his compositions.

“I’ve always associated letters, numbers, flavors, scents, and sounds with colors,” says artist Jennifer Mann. “I never knew there was a term for this, synesthesia, until a few years ago. For me, ‘A’ is red, ‘four’ is violet, a sweet-smelling rose is always ‘peachy pink,’ like an Arizona sunrise. And every song instrumental Jake has created has aroused certain color palettes in my mind.”

“Jake” is multi-instrumentalist Jake Allen; the two became friends after meeting at the 2019 NAMM show and discovering a mutual friend in the late fiddler Alex DePue. Allen elaborates: “Although I’ve always associated songs with various colors, it wasn’t until recently that I learned the term synesthesia. It’s a condition that many people have, where their senses kind of blend with each other. It can get as extreme as people being able to ‘taste’ certain words, but one of the most common forms is people linking certain sounds to certain colors. What’s really interesting to me is how these associations can sometimes be the same from person to person.”

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Allen says his music “has always been alternative indie, with a progressive-rock lean. For my next record, I really wanted to lean all the way into a more prog-rock direction. Around this time, Jennifer reached out to me about creating a couple of instrumental songs specifically for her to paint to. By the time I finished the second piece of music, and she painted it, I think we both sensed that the process was moving towards becoming a full album.”

As Mann puts it, “I’d asked Jake to doodle a couple of instrumentals as background music for my pour painting videos until his next solo album manifested. I was so captivated with the first tune he sent, ‘Aventurine,’ that I had to paint it. The next tune was ‘Amethyst,’ my birthstone, and again, I just had to paint it, not to it. Around holiday time in 2022, we decided to continue and collaborate on a full, ten-song album loosely based around crystals and healing stones, since we’re both kind of into the esoteric.”

The subsequent (and ongoing) creation of Refractions Vol. 1 has been a collaborative process that propelled both the art and the music, depending on what was completed first. “When Jennifer sends the painting first,” says Allen, “I’ll only look at it for a couple of minutes before ideas start popping up. I’ve found that the colors inform what instruments I’m going to use, and the composition of shapes in the painting pushes me towards the tempo and mood. There’s also a certain ‘netting’ effect in some of the paintings that I associate with complex time signatures and odd rhythm patterns. I know I have my work cut out for me when there is netting in the piece. “

As the process evolves, both have found their respective crafts moving forward. “My prog-rock aspirations were finding their footing within these instrumentals,” says Allen, “and we were both digging the collaborative aspect. Thus began the unfolding of ten proggy instrumental songs, each tied to a painting.” And both found the need to expand their array of tools. Allen, who plays every instrument on the record, found that the use of a dulcimer hammer and harp provided the texture he was hearing in his head. For her part, Mann added mediums and techniques to capture the music on canvas by using palette knives and creating her own metallic and color-shifting paints.

While Alex DePue’s death left an unfillable space in many lives, he continues to connect people through art and music. “I have thought about him often during the making of this record,” says Allen. “I imagine how he’ll react to certain things as I am crafting them. His sage advice and support are things I think of when the going gets tough, as it often does on the musician’s path. He was no stranger to that. To have his vote of confidence helps me keep the midnight oil burning, in the studio and on the stage.”

Ms. Mann concurs. “I truly believe Alex, like Jake, is an infinite point of light; a beacon connecting artistic souls for the betterment of the collective. Alex was such a stout, loving, supportive proponent of Jake’s expression of his talents, and I know that wherever he is now, he is still pushing him forward on his path. I look forward to painting one of Alex’s original masterpieces one day soon.” Plans for a release date and format are being discussed. In the meantime, experience the process online at Facebook.com/JakeAllenMusic.

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Jake Allen: partnership is bringing some color to his compositions.
Jake Allen: partnership is bringing some color to his compositions.

“I’ve always associated letters, numbers, flavors, scents, and sounds with colors,” says artist Jennifer Mann. “I never knew there was a term for this, synesthesia, until a few years ago. For me, ‘A’ is red, ‘four’ is violet, a sweet-smelling rose is always ‘peachy pink,’ like an Arizona sunrise. And every song instrumental Jake has created has aroused certain color palettes in my mind.”

“Jake” is multi-instrumentalist Jake Allen; the two became friends after meeting at the 2019 NAMM show and discovering a mutual friend in the late fiddler Alex DePue. Allen elaborates: “Although I’ve always associated songs with various colors, it wasn’t until recently that I learned the term synesthesia. It’s a condition that many people have, where their senses kind of blend with each other. It can get as extreme as people being able to ‘taste’ certain words, but one of the most common forms is people linking certain sounds to certain colors. What’s really interesting to me is how these associations can sometimes be the same from person to person.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Allen says his music “has always been alternative indie, with a progressive-rock lean. For my next record, I really wanted to lean all the way into a more prog-rock direction. Around this time, Jennifer reached out to me about creating a couple of instrumental songs specifically for her to paint to. By the time I finished the second piece of music, and she painted it, I think we both sensed that the process was moving towards becoming a full album.”

As Mann puts it, “I’d asked Jake to doodle a couple of instrumentals as background music for my pour painting videos until his next solo album manifested. I was so captivated with the first tune he sent, ‘Aventurine,’ that I had to paint it. The next tune was ‘Amethyst,’ my birthstone, and again, I just had to paint it, not to it. Around holiday time in 2022, we decided to continue and collaborate on a full, ten-song album loosely based around crystals and healing stones, since we’re both kind of into the esoteric.”

The subsequent (and ongoing) creation of Refractions Vol. 1 has been a collaborative process that propelled both the art and the music, depending on what was completed first. “When Jennifer sends the painting first,” says Allen, “I’ll only look at it for a couple of minutes before ideas start popping up. I’ve found that the colors inform what instruments I’m going to use, and the composition of shapes in the painting pushes me towards the tempo and mood. There’s also a certain ‘netting’ effect in some of the paintings that I associate with complex time signatures and odd rhythm patterns. I know I have my work cut out for me when there is netting in the piece. “

As the process evolves, both have found their respective crafts moving forward. “My prog-rock aspirations were finding their footing within these instrumentals,” says Allen, “and we were both digging the collaborative aspect. Thus began the unfolding of ten proggy instrumental songs, each tied to a painting.” And both found the need to expand their array of tools. Allen, who plays every instrument on the record, found that the use of a dulcimer hammer and harp provided the texture he was hearing in his head. For her part, Mann added mediums and techniques to capture the music on canvas by using palette knives and creating her own metallic and color-shifting paints.

While Alex DePue’s death left an unfillable space in many lives, he continues to connect people through art and music. “I have thought about him often during the making of this record,” says Allen. “I imagine how he’ll react to certain things as I am crafting them. His sage advice and support are things I think of when the going gets tough, as it often does on the musician’s path. He was no stranger to that. To have his vote of confidence helps me keep the midnight oil burning, in the studio and on the stage.”

Ms. Mann concurs. “I truly believe Alex, like Jake, is an infinite point of light; a beacon connecting artistic souls for the betterment of the collective. Alex was such a stout, loving, supportive proponent of Jake’s expression of his talents, and I know that wherever he is now, he is still pushing him forward on his path. I look forward to painting one of Alex’s original masterpieces one day soon.” Plans for a release date and format are being discussed. In the meantime, experience the process online at Facebook.com/JakeAllenMusic.

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