• Liam McDougal

Mr. Jacobsma’s Masquerade

Just two years ago social sciences teacher Mr. Kim Jacobsma retired from teaching after a very long and beloved tenure here at Mayfair. Any student that had him knew that one of his biggest passions was music. He always had classical music going on the radio in his class, he could talk about different musicians with just about any student, and he could tell stories of his time as a young adult playing in bands. He has been working on an album for years now, and after his retirement from teaching and years of hard work in the studio, he was finally able to release his album “Behind the Mask” with his band, Joker’s Masquerade, on March 15.

Jacobsma says that since his retirement he’s been busier than ever. His wife runs a law firm, and he’s been helping her out a lot with that in the last two years. He also has some other personal projects he works on here and there. And of course, he finished his album. He couldn’t really give a definitive time as to when the creation of the album started because some of the songs were created before he even considered doing an album on his own. The opening track, which shares a name with the band, “Joker’s Masquerade”, was written back when Jacobsma was with a different band where they shared creative duties. The reason it took so long for him to finally finish the album was because after talking and teaching at school all day, his voice couldn’t handle singing very well when going into the studio in the afternoon/evening.

While this project features other musicians, Jacobsma serves as the main creative force and songwriter. The band name came from when working on the packaging and presentation of the album, and he decided to pick that song for the band’s name. When asked where the name “Behind the Mask” came from, Jacobsma simply stated “I am the man behind the mask.” He describes the album as “an eclectic mix of songs written by (him)self and others,” which also allowed him to produce the songs the way that he wanted to. He wanted the different songs on the album to be able to reach a variety of different moods and emotions.

Jacobsma talked a lot about his songwriting process. He would be somewhere, and hear in his head a very brief idea for a song. He would then, when he could on a guitar or piano, “plink out” the idea that he had earlier. Eventually, he would go into the studio with a professional piano player and they would work on the melody and arrangement of the song together and eventually make a demo. He would listen to the demo a lot, and when he felt comfortable enough with it he would bring in a guitarist, drummer, bassist, and any other studio musicians he felt he needed for the song.

Jacobsma liked to dive into the origins and process of creating individual songs. The second song on the album “7 Shades of Blue” came after the very hard hitting intro song “Joker’s Masquerade,” so he wanted to create something that was a bit more jazzy, bluesy, and slow to follow it up. He decided to work with a professional trumpet player that he had met through a mutual friend at the studio. The trumpeter played a lot of different riffs and licks for Jacobsma, and then Jacobsma played around with what the trumpeter gave him. The riff for “Special Express,” similar to “Joker’s Masquerade,” came from when he was playing in a different band years ago. My favorite song off the album is “Love is Beautiful and Blind,” which is actually one of the most recently created songs on the album. He says it was originally very depressing and sad, so he brightened it up so that it wouldn’t kill the mood halfway through the album. Another one of my favorites (and probably the funniest song on the album) is “Kim Zone,” which is about how much Jacobsma loves to take naps. He says that the name came from his neighbor, who would always say that Jacobsma was headed “to the Kim zone” whenever Jacobsma said he needed to go take a nap.

As for the future, Jacobsma doesn’t have anything super definitively planned, but he sure is definitely not going to stop playing music. He did stop for about 20 years when he entered law school to focus on that and his career, and he “really regrets that.” He says, “making music is just my passion. I like to just consistently work on it all of the time. It’s what I do.” He hopes to eventually do a live show and perform a lot of the songs off the album. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic he hasn’t started planning anything specific yet though. His early plans for the show do sound exciting though, as he wants to play with an at least 10-piece band with brass and other instruments he would need to recreate the music from the album. He hopes that everyone at Mayfair is doing well and staying healthy as he misses everyone, and he hopes to see a lot of us when he does get around to performing a live show! “Behind the Mask” by the Joker’s Masquerade is now streaming on all major music providers!

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