How To Cultivate A Unique And Distinct Voice

Monday, December 28, 2015 by Jake Hahn | self development



I take a seat. Lay back. Gently place my headphones on. Press play. What do I hear?

The strength and build up of a detuned distorted guitar with slight feedback letting me know that something is about to go down, and it's gonna be brutal. Followed by a truly angst-ridden vocal screech to match. Then comes the growly, hard hitting truth of the bass guitar in tandem with a chest exploding kick drum.


My skin covered in cold-chills, teeth clenched, and eyes welling up - all beyond my control.

A truly emotional reaction to what I feel as true emotional expression.

This - throughout the years - remains to be one of the single most amazing things that I've experienced.


What Is It - And How Can You Do It?

Simply put - it’s truth.

It’s paying attention to what matters to you. Taking mental (or even physical) notes on it, and putting it into words and sounds that are natural and connected to the emotion you’ve noticed.

4 Steps To To Cultivate Your Distinct Sound:

     1. Cultivate the freedom to sing differently.

  • You don’t sound like your favorite artist(s). Period. And that is a great thing. The reason your favorite artist(s) are your favorite(s) is because they sound like themselves. Listen to your own voice. record it. Listen back. Find the thing(s) that stand out to you as unique. Not the things that “sound good” to you, but the things that are distinct. Embrace them over time. This isn’t about what you want to be - it’s about who you are.

     2. Cultivate the freedom to interpret and tell your story.

  • How do you see thing? What’s your opinion? It’s all colored and shaped by your unique perspective. Your life experiences. How do you say things? Pay attention to that. What type of words do you use? Don’t change those things...embrace them.

     3. Cultivate the freedom to explore.

  • Get curious, then stay that way. Explore your artistry - quite literally. Imagine an exploration. Imagine the details of that exploration. Consider all things involved in it. If you were an archeologist on a dig - sometimes you’d use a shovel, and sometimes you’d use a dust-brush. Treat your artistry in the same fashion. Explore it.

     4. Cultivate the freedom to sing how you want to sing.

  • Bottom line: you will feel the most alive, expressive, sincere, and genuine when you just let it all go. Just be. Actively search for ways to allow yourself the freedom to let-it-rip. Notice your voice, but don’t judge it. Don’t listen to yourself all the time. Listen to your gut. Feel what you want to say. If you feel sad and distant...let your voice sound sad and distant. If you feel aggressive...let your voice burn (don’t hurt yourself:) What do you sound like when you are happy? What does your speaking voice feel like when you are lonely? Pay close attention to how you naturally react to emotion. Study some of your favorite actors and note some of these nuances - then find them in yourself.



Freedom: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

Let that soak in.

Own it.

Be it.

         - Jake


P.S. The song I was listening to? 

How To Make A Connection With Your Audience

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 by Jake Hahn | Uncategorized


How do you classify emotional expression in music? Well - to do that - you first have to classify emotional expression in humans.


People say things like:

  • “that was touching”
  • “that gave me chills”
  • “that was moving”
  • “wow”
  • “that was sick”
  • “you have to see them live! Unreal”
  • etc…


People also say things like:

  • “yeah, it was nice”
  • “it was pretty cool”
  • “pretty good”
  • “eh”
  • “he/she had an alright voice”
  • “at least they hit the notes”
  • “that one part was kinda catchy”
  • etc…


But why? What's the difference?


True. Human. Emotional. Connection.


That's the difference. It means so much - that I can barely express it to you with these little black letters on this stark-white page.

And the truth is - no matter how hard I try - these typed words may fall flat! Causing no emotional response in you whatsoever.

But if you take the time to search yourself with the following perspective in mind - you may just find something interesting happens.


Gut instincts are real. That initial feeling you get from an experience tells you so much.


When I work with musicians on true self-expression - this is my mantra:

“If you truly feel it - the listener will too.”


That's all you have to do.


It's pure intention. The moment you find yourself thinking about expression or you attempt to “do something”...you've lost it.

You've moved from emotion to logic.

The goal is to stay with youremotion. Just feel. It's truly that simple. This is the answer to real emotional expression.




The moment you become self conscious…

You've lost it.

The moment you TRY to move the listener…

You've lost it.

The moment you wonder how you sound...

You've lost it.

The moment you look at yourself through the eyes of the listener…

You've lost it.


Think about it for a moment.


In the past - if you've been driven to tears for one reason or another - you didn't TRY to cry. You didn't MAKE the tears come. You didn't actively persuade your brain to cause the chain reaction it took to deeply feel what you felt and bring you to that particular emotional response.




You simply felt - and your emotion brought about your uncontrollable physical reaction.

I use the word reaction purposefully - because you had no control over it. You were compelled by your emotion, and no matter how hard you fought - you couldn't stop the tears from falling.

Staying with your emotion is paramount for self-expression.


Here are a few visual examples: Can you spot the REAL and the FAKE?

In A Hug:

insincere hug.png sincere hug.jpg


In a facial expression:

poser face Kim.jpg  michael-fassbender-look.jpg


In a live performance situation:

justin bieber poser.jpg  jbannon real.jpg

For example:

When I coach vocalists in the “hardcore” genre - I typically have this to say from the start: “don't scream if you don't have anything to scream about. Screaming is aggressive. Screaming is passionate. In nature, screaming is an all-out guttural, visceral reaction. If it's contrived...we will know, and we won't believe you.”


Same goes for “clean singing” -  and every other musical aspect for that matter.

It isn’t about an “emotional look on your face” or clinching and pumping your fist with “passion”. Not unless your raw emotion(s) summon those reactions from the gut. Viscerally.


So in quick summary:

This isn't about “sounding good” - it's about being real.

No posing. No characters to play. No nonsense.

Being genuine and sincere is a matter of simply being genuine and sincere.


You can't TRY. You don’t try. You just DO....from the gut.

Use Your Head

Monday, December 7, 2015 by Jake Hahn | self development

Really cool video about what happens inside of us when we listen to music - or better yet - when we create music! Check it out!