07 Jul jakeshoredrive Talks Battling Alcohol & How Music Production Changed His Life
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jakeshoredrive who’s an up-and-coming artist from Chicago, Illinois. He focuses on both tech house and deep house. His major focus is on high-energy and contagious sets featuring 90s and 00s remixes and edits. His mission is to enable dancefloor junkies with good music and good vibes. If that sounds right up your alley, be sure to catch Jakeshoredrive playing at North Coast Music Festival this September.
How are you feeling?
Today is a great day! I’m trying to soak it all in as I am opening up for Nitti Gritti and DJ Snake. These days are always a little interesting starting from the moment I wake up because it’s like a weird flutter of butterflies the entire day.
I’ve been having several big days like this for me now more often. I’m starting to get into a routine and do the relaxing things I want to do like chilling with my girl, going to Potbelly, and laying out in the sun. Whatever makes me happy.
Would you say those are your pre-show rituals now?
Yeah, I’m starting to get those locked in. I think the last time I had a big show, I went to Potbelly. It’s comforting. I’m trying to do comforting stuff because I know I have a really big night ahead of me and I’m just trying not to wear myself out before I have to exude all that energy because that’s what I like to bring.
How did you come up with your DJ name?
It went through a couple of different trials. Funny enough, when I started DJing in college at U of I, I started with the name DJ Dash. There was no reason for it. It just rolled off the tongue and it’s what I went with at the time.
Later on, I went by Jake Michigan for a brief stint after Lake Michigan, which thinking back now, sounds ridiculous. Due to that name, a couple of my friends were making fun of me and would call me Jake Shore Drive. One day I realized that just sounds so much cooler and better. Like Lake Shore Drive – Jake Shore Drive.
As time has gone on and I’ve traveled outside of the city to play shows across the nation, Jake Shore Drive doesn’t have the same play-on-word effect but the meaning of the name spreads. My first name is in it, which I love. ‘Shore’ reminds me of the style and vibe of my music since I have a very wavy style. The ‘Drive’ part embodies me. I feel I have a lot of drive and hustle. This really sets me apart from a lot of people so I think the name fits perfectly.
Who is Jakeshoredrive?
Honestly, I feel like I could really put it into a few words, but first and foremost I’m just that kid from Chicago. I had a great upbringing. I went to amazing schools and I feel that it is the fabric of who I am today because of the things I was exposed to as far as different styles of music and different people.
Through that, I’m somebody who enjoys helping people. I care about a lot of people and I think that’s shown through, outside the music, which has also allowed me to make a lot of really strong connections. But other than that, I’m just that guy that comes into a room and wants to hang out with everybody, talk to everybody, party it up, and have a good time.
You started DJing before producing, correct? How long have you been DJing? And when did you start producing your music?
I’ve been DJing for about 10 or 11 years now. I started at U of I, so back around like 2011/12 and DJ’d for about eight years. Then a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to take my career many steps forward and I knew I needed to start producing my own music to do that. Ever since I started producing my own music, everything in my life has changed.
Do you find creating your music for gigs different when you’re DJing versus producing? How do you create them?
That’s a great question because I’ve wrestled with that over the past couple of years. Again, I’ve only been producing for a couple of years. That first year or so was trying to figure that out as well as me trying to find my sound. If you listen back to my music you will notice that every single song is different in its own right. I love that because that’s how I DJ. I like to play different styles of music within the house genre. As of late, I have been more cognizant about what I’m making and whether or not I can see it being played during my set.
My sets have to have that high energy, jacking bassline, and drums. The last couple of tracks and records I’ve produced and put out are made for the club. They are things that people are going to play and what DJs are gonna play. Because at the end of the day, if you have DJs playing your music, that’s how you can start getting around the world.
What was going through your mind when you found out Loud Luxury featured your song?
Yeah. That was a big day and I was freaking out! While I was getting a haircut I looked at my TikTok, and sure enough, they were playing my song. I grew up with Loud Luxury! Afterward, Andrew, one half of Loud Luxury reached out to me and told me how well the song was going over during their sets. I just thought that was so cool because it really brought things into perspective for me. It’s like, wow, they’re really not that far out of reach, you know?
So that was a pretty big deal. That was definitely something that sprung everything for me, I think in the last couple of months. It’s still crazy. That’s the thing I noticed by making music that DJs can play and that’s huge.
@jakeshoredrive_ #duet with @loudluxury they said it not me! @jakeshoredrive_ ♬ Jakeshoredrive x Mike and me _Rock Yo Hips – TheTechhouseTeacher 🍎🔊
You mentioned that you kind of stick in the house genres. Do you have any others you want to eventually dabble in?
I think my next venture in music is still gonna be in the realm of house, but I’m trying to curate my sound around nineties techno and house music style, like La Bouche type style. People are going to laugh at me for saying this, but I want to give my sound that retro vintage vibe and kind of arrange my music in that sense again.
Outside of that, I work with a lot of different style artists and they push me to bend my genres. I think if I’m going to continue to evolve and stay relevant I’m definitely going to have to test the waters and see what else I can play with.
Overall, it just depends. I lean more into deep house and I think I’m going to start dabbling into that, but I like to make what I’m feeling.
Is that the same mindset when you are choosing songs for remixes because you’ve done remixes of Lizzo’s “About Damn Time”, Lee Foss & John Summit’s “Summertime Chi”, and “What’s My Age Again” Blink 182 X GTA X Party Favor (JSD Edit)- which all were different than what you typically create? So what do you look for in a song, and how do you decide what song you want to remix?
That’s a great question! I choose songs to remix that I know are already hot. They’re giving a visceral reaction from the world already. Essentially it’s a song that is trending. I also pick remixes based on nostalgia. When I hear that song, you can’t recreate that feeling unless you recreate that feeling.
That’s what I did with Lizzo. The song was blowing up and was huge on TikTok. I saw the reaction to it across the world and I said, let me put my spin on it. So I remixed it. I made the eight-bar loop during my lunch break at my teaching job, posted that on TikTok and it blew up. Funny thing is, the song itself wasn’t even finished yet. I just teased it a little. It got a reaction and then I made the rest of the song. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m just teasing it. And if people like it, then I know it’s worth finishing.
I did the same with “Rock Your Hips”. Surprisingly, not many people recognized that the song was a 2000s hip-hop song by Crime Mob. I was driving when I heard it on the radio and thought the song was a banger. So, I wanted to see if I could remix it. I made “Rock Your Hips” a year ago, but the song didn’t see the light of day until just a couple of months ago. Sometimes it takes a long time. It’s crazy to think the stuff I’m making now might not even see the light of day until the following year. At the same time, I’ve been blessed to self-release a lot of my music.
Speaking of “Rock Your Hips”, I got a little bit of what kind of inspired you to do it, but you also created a dance behind it which created some dance challenges on TikTok. Who created the dance?
The initial idea, I think, was mine but my girlfriend and I spent a couple of hours on a tennis court. We set up the camera and we did this whole dance. We did a move like where you rock your hip to go with the song and then posted it the next day.
Within the first 15 minutes, so many people responded asking where the shoulder move was because in the original video that I posted teasing the song I did a shoulder move. Since the fans told me they didn’t like it without the move, I deleted the video within 30 minutes of posting it. We went back out there and redid it with the shoulder move. Then the video took off.
You mentioned briefly that you are a third-grade teacher. Tell me more about that.
I am. I’ve been teaching for eight years. It’s what I went to college for. A couple of years later I got my master’s in administration and I got to teach at one of the best schools with the best parent communities and kids in the world. I did it all while DJing and started producing. It took seven and a half years to finally muster up the guts to say I’m gonna mix the two.
I’m going to start being a little bit more out there in public with my life because I feel like my brand, for the most part, is pretty clean. My students loved it. Ever since I started mixing the two and being more public with it, that’s what ended up being the thing that popped it off.
You mix the two by bringing house music to the class every morning right?
Yeah! I started filming myself doing a TikTok series called ‘House Music You Should Start Your Day With’ and then that bled over into the classroom. Every morning the kids would walk in and we would start the day by listening to some type of house music. They loved it and it really did help them start their day.
Obviously, academics are important, but I look at my students with a holistic approach and I’m teaching people to be people. We talked a lot about how our enthusiasm and the vibes in this classroom can really make a difference. This is especially true if there’s a student that’s struggling that day.
I remember the kids at that age, they don’t hear anything, but what’s on the radio. So I’m exposing them to something completely new, which at first I was getting a lot of raised eyebrows, but then I added in the fact that I am playing my music and then I had nothing but full of supporters. Next thing you know, I had a girl write a letter asking if I can keep playing house music because it really made her day.
The last day of school was the wildest thing too. We had the full setup there. The kids had no idea what to expect. The parents were so supportive. They brought in glow sticks and a signature board so the kids could sign their names. We made t-shirts. Everything! It was the last day of all last days!
@jakeshoredrive_ Best last day EVER @jakeshoredrive_ ♬ Jakeshoredrive x Mike and me _Rock Yo Hips – TheTechhouseTeacher 🍎🔊
You made a mini raver for them! You’re bringing in the baby ravers now. Did you start seeing the other teachers joining in with you?
For real! Yeah! The gym teacher decided to blacklight the gym. I walked in to go pick up the kids one day and that’s what the gym class looks like. I filmed it and that’s the video that really took off. Barstool Sports reposted it and Newsweek interviewed me about it.
When you were starting out within the music industry, did you have any mentors that really stood out for you?
In the beginning, there were a couple of guys at U of I that helped me get started. Specifically John Han and Milk N Cooks. I knew them first out and they helped me kind of transition into the city. Some of my Chicago idols are DJ Metro and DJ Flip Side.
Back to when I made the decision to start putting myself out there and making my own music, it’s amazing how many opportunities you can start reaching. Overall there are a lot of mutual exchanges of music and playing one another’s tracks. Chicago has a tight-knit community and I can’t say enough good things about the Chicago DJ community.
Would you ever be a mentor for somebody else?
Wanting to help people is in my blood. A friend of mine, DJ Susan, said to me, “Everybody wants to climb the ladder, but not many people want to stop for a second and help somebody up.” I try to keep that idea and do little things where I can try and give back.
I’ve been a teacher for eight years so I also host one on one virtual and in-person production lessons. I’m also offering my knowledge in the area of marketing and branding as an artist and have about four or five clients right now. I also offer little perks on the side too. For instance, all my clients got guest list passes to my show this evening.
Throughout your journey of DJing/Producing, what are some obstacles you have overcome and how did you overcome them?
Let’s start with the big one for me which was definitely my battle with alcohol. That was a struggle for me for many years. I didn’t even realize it was a struggle until I broke down all the problems in my life and alcohol was the common denominator.
I went public with it just about a month ago after I hit my 200 days sober. This is my second leg of being sober over the past three years. Staying sober is not linear and I still have to work on it every day. Alcohol was deterring me from what I wanted to do. Everything you see me do is because I’m sober. Now that I’m sober I have the energy, clarity, drive, and motor that is consistently clean and ready to rock at all times. It took a long time for me to get there, but I feel like I’m in a really good place.
Because of this, I started doing one on one coaching sessions with people that are interested in taking on sobriety. Talking to a lot of them has been really eye-opening. It has made me realize that being sober in this industry isn’t very common. A lot of them have asked me, “How do you not drink while working in this industry?” Some even doubt they could ever live sober. If I am able to at least help one person, I feel like it’s making an impact, making a difference. This again goes back to me wanting to help people. I love coaching people and being a support system for them.
Fast forward to a smaller problem that I’ve been reflecting on recently is learning to enjoy the moment. With so much going on in my life and everything I’ve accomplished and everything I’m trying to accomplish, I have this never-satisfied mentality. I need to start recognizing when I’ve had a huge success or hit a huge milestone. Next, I need to learn to take a step back and soak it in. I need to allow myself to take a day for myself and just breathe it in.
That’s amazing! I worked in the nightlife industry for many years and it’s really easy to get lost in that fun and the drink. Truly does take a toll. And in an industry that doesn’t promote sobriety in that way it’s gotta be really hard. Do you find that it’s harder when you find yourself in spaces like this?
For me, it’s more of a duration. I’ve gotten really good about informing people around me within the first 10 or 15 minutes of meeting them that I’m sober. Either because they’ve tried to ask me if I wanted to drink or whatever. That has become my key to success with sobriety.
I have figured out that, for me, I can’t be in a spot for more than two or three hours if there’s a lot of drinking or alcohol. I know that for me, the more I stay around it, it’s gonna make things a little difficult. So, I have learned my limits. I know my boundaries. I know what I need to have around me and in my hand and where I can go and where I can’t go.
Thank you for talking about this with me! I feel like we need to have more discussions about this as it’s not frequently talked about in this industry. It’s so overlooked and we’ve lost so many artists because of it.
I feel like a sober wave is coming though. I’ve noticed there’s been a lot more talk about it. I’ve noticed more sober brewing companies opening. I will actually put non-alcoholic beer on my rider sometimes. And it tastes just like beer.
I’ve found some bigger creators that are pledging sobriety. I agree that’s what we need. We need people to talk about it. Get the conversation and the dialogue going about it. As we talk about it more, people will start to feel more comfortable and can relate.
It really does! So you have been hustling and on fire lately. You got “Rock Your Hips” played by Loud Luxury. You’ve opened for Dombresky and provided support for James Hype. You’ve got tonight with DJ Snake and Nitty Gritty. You are also doing Heat Wave and North Coast Music Festival. Tell me how are you feeling with all of that?
I’m so excited! I have literally been working for this moment. For me, it feels like it was just a matter of time before my hard work paid off. I’ve been going at this rate for so long without it being acknowledged and to be honest with you, not in an arrogant way, but I’m literally just standing by the work that I’ve put into it.
Every move I’ve made over the past three years and even moves that may not seem like they were, were calculated. I have a vision and for the last three years, I’ve sacrificed so much including friends, relationships, hours of sleep, and so much money and time. On the flip side, however, in turn, I’ve had so many beautiful opportunities along the way. I am just getting started!
Do you have anything that you do when you’re creating music that helps you push the boundaries a little bit to create that new and fresh sound?
For me, I think it’s all about the setting. I love sitting on the back porch at my parents’ house. They got a nice deck. I don’t know but I’ve made some of my best music on that back porch. Sitting in the studio’s fine when I am collaborating and then there’s sometimes where I will be up till 4:00 AM sitting on my couch, just cranking it out. I don’t need a whole mass setup. I’ve got my headphones and laptops. But that has definitely been something that I’ve noticed, where I’m sitting and the setting helps me be creative and curate a vibe.
Aside from setting, what is your process like when creating the song?
I am inspired by a lot of different artists and vibes. I start with a couple of reference tracks with an idea of what I want this track to sound like. One of my main processes in making tracks is starting with vocals.
I realized about three or four months ago after I was coming out of a creative block that every song that I’ve ever created started with a vocal. That’s my quick and easy way to kind of conceptualize my idea. Sometimes just listening to a bass and drum feels generic. There’s no soul to it. Once the vocals are present, I can understand the vibe.
How would you describe Jakeshoredrive’s sound to someone that has never heard you before?
High energy! Songs that make you move and sometimes feel nostalgic. That’s the vibe I’m trying to push out. I love that!
I remember going to dances as a kid and hearing that song that you haven’t heard in a while and you say to yourself oh my God, this is my jam and then all of a sudden it builds up and drops into this thing you never heard before. For example, for my set tonight you’re gonna hear a little hip hop, the nineties, a little country like Shania Twain remixes, and so on.
What are three unique things about you?
My girlfriend mentioned to me the other day that she noticed I am one of the only DJs up there dancing. Like really dancing. I think that is what really sets me apart and makes me unique as a DJ.
I’m also sober and I’m a teacher. I think these two things really set me apart. It also shows people I’m just another person. I think I can express myself through a camera very easily without worrying about what anybody thinks.