Jakob Berger (& his hat) is a California-native who champions the DIY mentality to a fault. From the ukulele that ended his relationship with his fiancée to the furniture in his humble Los Angeles apartment, these hand-crafted relics all tell the story of a person with a strong need for one thing: to create.
This gypsy-tinged indie-folk singer-songwriter has been teaching himself a myriad of instruments for over a decade; starting on his dad’s old steel string guitar that was inherited from “Uncle Johnny,” Jakob has since been pouring all of his savings toward slowly accumulating instruments varying from accordion to cello, which culminated in a desire to craft his own instruments.
He spent the better part of a year apprenticing at an African drum store in Los Angeles and taking stringed instrument-building courses in San Diego. Rather than settle down in either city, he distributed his belongings among friends and family and spent the night on various couches, guest rooms, closets, and trailers throughout the year. This hyper focus on learning to build instruments in addition to his nomadic lifestyle tendencies would prove to be a key factor in his separation from his now ex-fiancée, but would also become the fuel for his first full-length album.
Released under the moniker “Jakob Berger & his hat,” the album features melodies and instrumentation collected and developed over the past few years, with considerable inspiration coming from a time when he was living in Europe. Most of the lyrics are more recent additions, documenting his journey as he developed a stronger sense of identity. Though he has never considered himself a singer or even an expert at any one instrument, he felt it only appropriate that he be the one to deliver these personal anecdotes in a self-accompanied fashion; most tracks feature a synergy between the swell of accordion, the guitar-like plucking of cello strings, the pulse of djembes, and the strumming of the ukulele he built.
To date, he has been recognized by the State of California Senate for his achievements in lutherie, and continues to build ukuleles out of alternative materials such as gourds and tin lunch boxes. He has performed internationally in Germany, honing his finger picking by playing banjo for a theatre production, and has likewise travelled to Poland in order to develop cello music for an ensemble-devised theatre piece. He will be returning to Poland with the same group later this year (2017) for a performance of this work. Music videos for every song on the album are currently in development.