Sounds From Jake: Penn State Alumnus Makes His Mark On Philly Music Scene
The first time I saw Jake Bernard, I was in a quaint South Philadelphia coffee shop on a midsummer evening. It was the kind of venue where dim lights illuminated a small wooden stage, and a keg filled with some crafty IPA was in the far end of the room. I made the drive down to south Philly with my longtime friend, Bernard’s producer Zach Kramer.
Bernard took the stage under the name “Sounds From Jake” with his acoustic guitar. He started strumming and singing along to some upbeat rhythms, feel-good music, as he puts it. He had captivating, raw talent. Being a quintessential music geek, I just had to talk to him.
A current Philadelphia resident, Bernard graduated from Penn State in 2014. He studied finance and sociology during his time in Happy Valley, but music remained a constant in his life outside of the classroom. He participated in Penn State’s a cappella group “Shades of Blue,” and was a founding member of the all male group The Statesman in 2011. It was a common theme in his life: Should I stick with finance, or is music the path I’m meant to take?
“As I pursued my degree in finance, at Penn State, the thought of stepping into a music career head-on had really taken a backseat,” he explained. “Around the turn into second semester my senior year, I started realizing I could be making a huge mistake. I found myself in too many conversations revolving around the idea of looking back years later, thinking ‘what if?’ — which sparked my chase.”
Bernard caught the rhythm bug young. When he was growing up, his parents would constantly play classic artists like U2, Duran Duran, Queen, No Doubt, The Offspring, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Nirvana. Although a lot of these artists differ from his style, being immersed in a musical childhood initiated his lifelong love affair.
It’s easy to say someone like Bernard is a “natural” when it comes to his craft, but he was born with a gift. “I started playing guitar at 8, and during one lesson my guitar teacher discovered I had perfect pitch — a congenital ability which enables me to tell apart musical pitches/notes the way most can tell apart colors,” he said. He later began to fine tune his style through artists like Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble,and Dave Matthews.
Bernard explained he owes a lot of his success to his former roommate and fellow Penn State Zach Kramer, claiming he was the “brains behind his EP.” Kramer also helped Bernard get his foot in the door of the Penn State music scene. Kramer plays the drums in Mute Cities, 2015 Battle of the Bands winner and Movin’ On performer. During a house show in State College, Bernard got his start opening for Mute Cities.
The two put in hours to ensure Bernard’s EP was top notch, and the final product is a testament. Songs like “Mochaccina” off of “3P” make you feel beach-bound and a little buzzed.
These days, he’s taking the Philadelphia scene by storm. He rolls through small venues throughout the tri-state area. Bernard says he could not be prouder of his progress through it all, but his ultimate dream is to headline a sold out show in Madison Square Garden. Only time will tell.