Life is full of surprises that we don’t always expect. Sometimes they come in the form of a prize at the bottom of your cereal box. Or maybe you hit the pocket lotto and find a couple bucks in the pocket of some pants that just made their way through the wash. In this particular case, our surprise rested in the oyster of a remote village in Holland and the pearl extracted was a shining producer who would later come to be known as Shook.
As many of the significant producers of sound, Shook, aka Jasper Wijnands, was raised in a home that embraced and encouraged the appreciation of music. While the small village on the coast of the Netherlands was a peaceful place to call home, it lacked the sort of thrills that a young boy seeks. Music was there to spike young Jasper’s interest and provide an endless escape from the otherwise quiet town. On one hand, his father could often be heard playing Jazz piano downstairs which provided an interesting musical backdrop for Jasper and his Thundercats action figures. Papa Shook did his best to expose his son to Jazz and Bossa Nova greats like Gershwin as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim. Other times he was subject to hearing whatever music his brother chose to blast from the room next to his, which ranged from old funk to hip-hop. Although the varying sounds resonated through the walls as a burden at the time, it is now something that can be looked upon fondly as an initial introduction to a wide range of music. Amidst the eclectic sounds filling the halls of his household there was still time for adventure. With friends at his side and anime comics in his backpack, Jasper would often be seen skateboarding through the streets of his village, but every turn he took ultimately led him back to music.
Jasper was enrolled in piano classes at a young age, possibly due to his father’s interest in the instrument, and was able to excel down another avenue of productive distraction from the mundane. His abilities were acknowledged, not only by his parents but also by his music teacher at school who requested he play a Bach piece in front of a large audience. The performance was received with cheering and applause that provided a surge of emotion unlike anything he had done up to that point. It was an eye opening experience for the young musician that he recalls with a smile stating, “…it’s the same feeling I get when I release new music on the internet or play live [today].” With the seed of a musician planted, he began to nurture the budding interest as its roots took hold on his life.
His initial musical ventures were manifested through a trial version of Fruityloops on his computer. While Michael Jackson and Prince served as the foundation of his personal music interest, as time passed he found himself submerged in experimental electronic music. The former did their part to instill a desire for balance amongst melody and rhythm while the latter opened his mind to more progressive structures of production. Fruityloops, though novice in its demand for experience, was conducive in welcoming our young producer to explore a digital audio workstation. Another outlet for musical expression was his part time job as a background pianist at a small Chinese restaurant. While this was not the most ideal setting for the musician, the lack of pressure emitted from his dining audience opened the door to improvisation and allowed him to create melodies he could later bring back to his computer. These two channels carried him through high school and yielded pieces that were as entertaining to the artist as they were to his friends, but the milestone task of completing year twelve of schooling brought on a question we all encounter at some point: What do I do next? Little did he know, Mama Shook had something up her sleeve that would prove to be a pivotal move in her son’s life.
It was a classic case of mom knowing what is best. Recognizing Jasper’s talent and passion in the realm of his musical efforts, she took it upon herself to call the Conservatory of Musical Arts and arrange for an entrance audition. It was a tense situation that he remembers “like an audition you see in the movies with a lot of teachers in a room and nothing but a piano.” Despite the high-pressure situation, he was able to rise to the occasion once again and was admitted into the school that would facilitate his desires of further musical knowledge. Once enrolled, Jasper took various classes that focused on Music Production as well as Studio Engineering, but one that he found particularly stimulating was Sound Synthesis. With lessons taking place on an Arp 2600 synthesizer as well as a Nord Modular G2 an interest was sparked in older equipment. He began to collect old synthesizers that served as the perfect source of inspiration in times when staring at a computer screen did not seem so interesting. Being able “…to sit behind a synthesizer or piano and just play” aided the creative process as well as any other struggles he encountered in life admitting that “creating music has always been a kind of cure for me…”
With his musical choo-choo train chugging along promising tracks, Shook soon graduated from the Conservatory of Musical Arts. With an array of highly regarded degrees under his belt, it was time to share his sounds with a wider audience and the universe knew just what he needed. Through a bit of serendipity, Jasper began to receive remix requests from artists that garnered a larger following than he currently had, which proved to be the perfect way to debut a sound that showcased his skill set. Starting with remixes for Auxiliary Tha Masterfader and Jupiter, the word of a fresh-faced electro-funk juggernaut was out. As each new request for his take on a track rolled in, the names only got bigger. With remixes for artists ranging from Capital Cities to Kimbra and Ellie Goulding he was able to “…establish a sound and [have] that sound get noticed.” With that he had finally arrived on a scene of his own making, creating a sound unlike any other while managing to stay true to himself and what he aimed to convey through his project.
With the respect of widely known artists and an ever-growing fan base, Shook now finds himself with the opportunity to present the world with original pieces that can reach a wider audience than he ever imagined. “It’s an ongoing journey and you never know quite what the next destination will be,” says the still-budding artist. Nowadays he draws inspiration from those who “create something for themselves, explore boundaries, and don’t take the easy route.” In a world of endless electronic shortcuts it can be second nature to take the road most traveled but Jasper is here to encourage us to shake things up a bit and do something true to ourselves.