Jasmine Jew - Director of Operations, Austin School of Music

Jasmine Jew - Director of Operations, Austin School of Music

Bassist, Artist, and Director at the Austin School of Music, Jasmine Jew guides the schools mission to encourage and promote the Austin music community and provide programs to develop it in young musicians.

Troy Schlicker: Good afternoon, Austin. This is Troy slicker with the Austin spotlight. I am joined today by Jasmine Jew the director of operations at the Austin school of music amongst other things. how's it going today Jasmine

Jasmine Jew: Going really well. Thank you so much for having me.

Troy Schlicker: I appreciate you taking the time. so, generally kind of like to start off the interviews with getting kind of an origin story for whomever I'm talking to learn a little bit kind of about them. I think, I feel like especially here in Austin, a lot of people have interesting origin stories. Cause a lot of people aren't originally from Austin, actually, sometimes it's even more interesting when you talk to someone who has been here their entire life, because there aren't as so many people have relocated and stuff. So what's kind of a little bit about your background, like, are you are originally from, and what brought you to Austin

Jasmine Jew: So I am from Brownsville, Texas. it's a border town and, I moved here in 2007 and I, I moved to Austin because of the live music. I moved here to make art. I'm a musician and a painter and, this just seemed like a really good city to land in. I love it. I love being here.

Troy Schlicker: Nice. I mean, not that Brownsville is close, but as far as like places that you could've gone to try to pursue that Austin, I'm sure it was probably one of the closer cities versus going all the way out to LA a lot of other places.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah, it was a six hour drive home if I needed to go back and visit with family. I do have some family in Austin. My, my older brother lives here. I've got uncles and cousins and so it was nice to like land here and have kind of a little base already in

Troy Schlicker: Place for people to fall.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah,

Troy Schlicker: No for sure that that's actually, when I first moved down here, around the same time, at, at the time I had an aunt and uncle and some cousins that lived here they've since moved away, but, it was nice to be like, oh, if I want to, I can go have a home cooked meal or move somebody in a completely strange city. So I can completely understand, Stan understand that. obviously, you work at the Austin school of music. You are a musician yourself, you are an artist as was that something that was, you always had those tendencies and were always kind of involved in those things from a young age.

Jasmine Jew: So I, I've been drawing and making art as long as I can remember. my mom actually just sent a picture of Roger rabbit that I drew in 1989. It was terrible. but I was, I was little so, you know, that was kind of where I got started. I drew a little, a lot of like cartoons and stuff. played in the school band, always had aspirations to join a band and play bass on stage. my favorite band growing up was no doubt and, you know, hates really sick basis. So I wanted to try to pick that up. I never thought in a million years that I'd be making art and playing in a band in Austin on stage, you know, so, it was kind of a, I'm kind of living a dream that I didn't think I'd ever get to experience when I was young.

Troy Schlicker: That's so cool. Obviously most bands in high school don't have a lot of bassist in those bands. When did you kind of pick up that, that, that instrument in, in wanting to do that, was that also kind of in middle school, high school or was that after?

Jasmine Jew: I wish, around my 30th birthday, I was gifted a bass, for my friend Ricky, and he's like, Hey, I'm getting a more professional instrument. Do you want to hang on to this And maybe, you know, make a little noise And I was like, yeah, you know, I didn't really play anything. Then I was just kind of working full time and, I didn't really make a lot of art at the time either. I was really focused on just like getting to know people in town. And, so I, I picked up the bass a little bit. My husband is a guitar instructor, so he, and he's also very proficient basis. So he gave me a little bit of instruction and, it was an opportunity to audition for one of his bands. One of his basis was, was moving out out of that project and they needed somebody and they needed somebody fast. And I was like, how hard could it be So I had a six week deadline to learn the instrument, learn six songs. That, it went, it turned out pretty well, so They kept me.

Troy Schlicker: Yeah, that's awesome. the, again, interesting to have picked, like, obviously not that you weren't in music at a younger age, but to, again, there's not a lot of people, I don't think that are picking up, new musical instruments and stuff at that, at that age. That's really awesome that you, that you, got involved that way with it. what, what was it like So then previous to joining that group, were you ever doing stuff, again, onstage, other than again, high school band stuff, but had you a part of other groups in any way whatsoever

Jasmine Jew: Not at all. I'm very shy and, pretty reserved. So I, I avoided microphones. I avoided stages. I loved going to support bands, so I did a lot of like booking and, promo for bands. I did like street team kind of stuff when I was young. And, you know, I just loved like shelling out the merge and designing merch. I was picked to do album art and contribute to artwork for bands, in the time I've been in Austin. So that's, I kind of had a, a good, a good support system music wise. So I knew quite a few musicians and, you know, was able to pick their brains. And this was all before I got involved with the Austin school of music as well. So kind of interesting how I, you know, what, this is my job now,

Troy Schlicker: Her pre previous to again, getting into, you know, being, being, doing the art stuff, doing the band stuff and having a job that revolved around music. What were you doing Work-wise?

Jasmine Jew: I, I worked at Alamo draft house and, when I first moved up to Austin, I had no idea what I was going to do. I'd come from a very corporate job and I didn't want anything to do with, with that. So I picked up waiting tables for a little while, and that gives you a lot of financial freedom to like bounce around to different jobs. And, it's such a good way to get to know people. So I, I picked up the gig at Kirby lane working third shift. I've got a lot of crazy stories from that. and that led me to working at Alamo draft house where I w I worked for almost 10 years. And, it was just so fun to work around movies. I love food. I love movies. I love special events. That job brought all of that together. but when the opportunity presented itself to work at, in a more relaxed job setting, I jumped at that. So I, I worked at straight music for a long time and got to be more familiar with musical instruments and, more musicians in the area. And my life just kept funneling me towards, towards music every, every day just brought more of the music world into my life personally. So, that kind of fed me into the Austin school of music.

Troy Schlicker: It's, I mean, it's not surprising because there's so many examples of it, but like, right, like the, the more you surround yourself with whether it's the type of people or the types of activities, just the more opportunities come your way in those kinds of things, because you're just involved in it so much more. And so it's awesome when, what you get to be involved in is something that you enjoy so much, because then again, then those opportunities are extra cool because it's, again, like I say, able to live a dream, have a, have a dream job, live a dream life, versus just having a job

Jasmine Jew: Very much. So, I found myself, gravitating towards more of the artists that worked in, that worked with Alamo Drafthouse, you know, we would have all these conversations in between like shoveling fries and like picking up plates, you know, like what music are you into What do you do And, you know, it was fun to like, get to really know people that way. just like our creative talents, how we would make the regular day job, work, you know, and then just slowly surrounding myself with more musicians pushed me in this direction. And I, I couldn't be happier.

Troy Schlicker: Yeah, no, they say it's, it's really, the Austin music scene is obviously super interesting and cool. And there's so many different ways to experience it. I do the only th to me, the only downside of it is it seems like there's live music almost everywhere. And every once in a while, you kind of like, I just want to go hang out with people and not have to shout or, or, or, talk really about over a band. It's like every once in a while, you're like, I just want to have a quiet brunch, type of thing. But for most, most of the time, it's really cool to have that, kind of environment and ambiance and just, and the ability to go see, so many different locals who are chasing a passion or career, and have those opportunities because in a lot of, I mean, it's, well, I think it's become more common even in a lot of larger cities to have some kind of scene, but to be able to go and experience, just all different kinds of, of music and all different kinds of, events that way is something that's, very cool for Austin.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah. you know, I just appreciate so much, getting to interact with so many musicians. And, even when I can't attend a show in person, I appreciate the live streams. Kick-butt coffee has a slew of awesome bands and, all, almost all of their shows are live streams. So if I'm at work or I am just unable to make it to a show in person, I can support online and, experience the music that way.

Troy Schlicker: Yeah.

Jasmine Jew: So that's been a lot of fun.

Troy Schlicker: so obviously I kind of that front, I mean, a lot of bands, like a lot of life, and companies and everything gravitating towards virtual live streams, those kinds of things, when the pandemic hit, how, how did that affect you, your band, your, you as an artists and the Austin music school, school of music.

Jasmine Jew: So I'm right. At that time, my band was trying to figure out what we were, what direction we were going to go in. And it was a good, March of 2020 was a good time to reform the direction of the project. And, that's when I took over local duties. And like I said, I'm a very shy person. So to take over singing and like fronting a band, dream come true nightmare come true, you know but I, it gave that break from live performance, gave me an opportunity to really get my, get my grounding, performing. And, we were able to do a few live streams to just kind of get used to the project as it was now as a three-piece. And, I, I really liked that, that initial few months of, live streaming and just, you know, having a little more time to focus on, on your path and, with the Austin school of music, because we were 100% in-person lessons, that was a really big transition.

And, it was kind of scary to undertake because I was brand new to the position of director of operations with the school. And I felt like it was my job to help keep this, keep the school afloat and, you know, come on guys, we can do this. We can all get like, joined together. We'll figure out zoom together. We'll figure out navigating online lessons. You can't do. You know, we did everything to book online, vocal lessons, online P drums online piano was a little easier, but, you know, our brass instruments, stuff like that was a little bit more challenging. unfortunately that, live streaming and zoom, lessons gave it, it, it, it opened up our market because we're able to offer the Austin music experience, to anywhere in the world, students all over the world. so it's also nice to have as a backup, you know, can't make it into lessons, hop on your computer. Let's do that piano class.

Troy Schlicker: Yup. No, very, yeah, it did. It, it was an opportunity in disguise. When I say when it, when it first happened, it was, it felt, like how, how are, how are you going to adapt And then Mo a lot of, a lot of businesses and you can say most, but a lot of businesses found a way and now, and found opportunities that they wouldn't have found or gotten into if they hadn't, if they hadn't been forced you.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah.

Troy Schlicker: What, so talk to me a little bit, maybe a little bit of the origin story of the Austin school of music. So not necessarily you just starting there, but kind of just the history, a little bit of the history and background of, of it in overall.

Jasmine Jew: So, the school was created by Dave Seebri, who is, a well-known guitarist in Austin. He's a fabulous musician, a very creative soul. And, he moved to Austin, Texas, and I think 1981, his whole mission in life, well happy. And, in doing that, you know, he was trying to find a career path that I think as a creative person, it's hard to just fit into, into any old job. You know, you want to kind of carve your own path. So, his goal was to have an opportunity to work with musicians and really share with the community, the gift of music. So, he, he rallied up some friends that were really awesome musicians in town and, decided to open a school. our school is comprised of all of our teachers. One of the main requirements is that you have to be a performing musician.

So you have to know what you're doing out. when you're, when you're, when you're performing, we want to have like professionals, come in and show our students, you know, we're regular people. You can, we want to encourage you to pick up an instrument and, you know, take your passion wherever you want. If you want to take it to the stage you want to record, you want to write, you want to just play piano at home, super chill, whatever you want to learn, he wanted to create an opportunity for that to happen. so it wasn't a super strict like piano class or anything, you know, run your scales. it was more of a, okay, let's, let's do the scale. Let's build upon that. And like, let's get you pointed in the direction musically that you want to want to take to.

Troy Schlicker: Nice. So does that lead to potentially more, I don't want to say more, more customized lessons than you might get somewhere else. Like again, because you know, someone's picking up. I mean, obviously if you don't have basics down in any instrument, it's going to be hard to expound upon that. But, but assuming you've kind of have some basics down, then the lessons can be more, focused on the path that the artist or the student wants to kind of go into

Jasmine Jew: 100%. all of our lessons, we, we have kind of a loose curriculum that we will, we will try to apply to each student, but the lessons are really curated around what you want to learn, what your area of focus is and how you learn. we don't, we're very careful in how we assign teachers and students, because we want to make sure it's a good personality fit. In addition to like, you're getting the, the study of genre that you want. we've, we've got several guitar teachers in each of them offers a very niche sort of experience. So, we've got like the metal guys. We've got the classical guys, we've got, you know, people that are doing punk rock, teachers that focus solely on writing. So if you, if you're just here to, to jam and you want to learn how to be, you know, a great guitarist, we have that. If you want to really delve deep into music theory, we offer that as well. So we want to just make sure we pair people up properly. And so that they're having a good time and they're excited to return to lessons.

Troy Schlicker: Yes, no, that's, an important thing, regardless of what you're trying to do is if you, if you enjoy the experience, even though it's a learning experience and there's gonna be some stumbling blocks along the way, you're much more likely to kind of stick with it and, continue progressing.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah.

Troy Schlicker: Very nice. So, how long have you been then with the Austin school of, or Austin school of music

Jasmine Jew: I, I joined up in 2018 at the time I was working at straight music. part-time and at Alamo drafthouse. And, they were in need of a receptionist at Austin school of music. I lived very close by, so it was like, okay, you know, that'll be a fun little side gig. And, as soon as I took the job, I was in love with, I was in love with it. I feel personally, like I was able to kind of cultivate a little community out at our north location. We've got two spots, we've got one super far north, we've got one down south on Ben, white and Lamar. And, our north location, has like a very open lobby. So I was able to get people talking and, you know, asking about the kids and asking you about your lessons, how are, how are you progressing one of our main features of the school is our rock camp, which is the longest running music camp in Austin. And, I loved just like, Hey, you're like eight years old. How, how long have you been playing guitar Great. Let's throw you on stage. And, you know, just getting people pumped up about performing. And, that was, that was just so fun. So, you know, in 2019, the opportunity to, for director of operations opened up and I snagged it,

Troy Schlicker: How, how challenging is it for students to go from the lesson to performing thing Right. Cause like, right. So public speaking and a lot of different, public performing ish kind of things are sometimes terrifying to a lot of people. And so obviously someone wants, if someone's goal is to be a PR, be it, you know, earn a living from being an artist or a musician, they're probably, they're probably going to have to they're there, even if they're somewhat scared of it, like, you know, they're going to be able to overcome that fear in most cases, because, you know, it's a dream and a goal that they want. but like how, like how do you guys handle that dynamic Cause I would imagine that it's a pretty big one for a lot of musicians.

Jasmine Jew: So not all of our students are interested in performing if they're not into it, we're not going to make anybody do it. But, the ones that have that drive to, to be on stage, I consider myself like the biggest cheerleader of the school I will cheer you on. I will give you whatever kind of support you need. I'm really good with pep talks. So, with all, all of our students, you know, it's, everybody's gonna have different goals and, we'll just try our best to, to help them reach whatever goals it is that they want. we do have, lot of, many of our students are current performers and they're just here to get even better. getting even better at writing, get even better with stage performance. we have classes in stage performance. as many of our teachers are touring musicians, you know, when they're in town, they'll offer workshops on, you know, this is how you're on the mic and here's like how you walk onto the stage and, you know, even just like the regular pep-talk, so

Troy Schlicker: Yeah. How to mentally get in the right space prior to performing.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah.

Troy Schlicker: You mentioned the, the longest running music camp. Can you tell us a little bit more about, about that

Jasmine Jew: Yes. so rock camp is our big summer program. we, our first rock camp was in 1995 and, it's a two-week day camp. So kids will come in, we pair them up based on their age group, and as well as like their Shaundra, their preferred genre. and then we have two weeks to form a band. So they've got a form of band learn between two and four songs, hit the recording studio to record to the tracks, and then they go on stage to perform at Antone's. So they get a full crash course in being in a band. You know, some, some of these kids have never met each other. some will never see each other again, you know, we've had, people come from Paris to there. They're just vacationing in Austin and they're like, oh, this looks like a fun way to spend a couple of weeks. And so we've had students from all over the world come through to participate in the camp. And, you know, it's always a really good time. we've we've never missed a year. Some years have been smaller than others. this year, I think is our first year full force. you know, over the past couple of years where we're hitting it hard and, we're hoping to have about 10 bands to hit the stage on Anton at Antone's, in the middle of summer. So

Troy Schlicker: Little excited. I'm sure it's exciting for all musicians as we've been getting back to more, norm normal schedules and full fuller venues and all those kinds of things, because if you enjoy doing the live performances, like there's definitely a lot of energy and juice to be gotten from the audience as well.

Jasmine Jew: Oh yeah. You know, you have, we packed up one-to-one last year. we packed up Antone's last year. you've got, you know, 20 to 30 kids, really jazzed up about performing in front of a large crowd. everything is like professionally recorded, so we've got records of all their, all their performances and, you know, they get to show off for their friends and family. And it's, it's so inspiring because in a lot of cases that these kids have never been on stage before they, they just have this drive, they have this fire to, to be up there and perform. And, you know, in some cases, you basis a little harder to fill, you know, everyone wants to be the lead guitarist or the drummer. And, so I got to pump up the basis and get them up on stage. And, we, I, I wanted to mention, so, some of the kids that have participated in rock camp, you know, they're adults now and they're actually teachers at our school now and they're actually teaching rock camp, which is kind of full circle for them. I'm in one of the teacher's rooms right now. He, Dave Norris, did the camp several years ago and now he's a full on teacher and performer.

Troy Schlicker: Yeah, that's so cool. kind of one of the things you talked to her about that seemed injured, or as I was talking about the going a lot to live music back more with bigger crowds and how the energy and stuff you get as a, someone who was doing live music prior, and then have the shutdown, like how challenging was it to perform live by a streaming Like, I guess, did it feel like just, maybe being in the studio, recording the album where obviously you don't usually have a big crowd for that Or was it super challenging because, you know, you're not, you don't get the feedback and that energy that you would from, from a live crowd. So how, what was that kind of like trying to do live, stream your performance when, before you would do it in front of a loud crowd that would also have a lot of energy as well

Jasmine Jew: Oh, I was so personally I was so thankful for that opportunity because it, it allowed me to like, okay, mentally prepare for when there are people in front. because we did, maybe my band did four, four or five live streams where there was one person Manning the camera and the band, and maybe like two friends felt brave enough to come out and experience it with us. so you get like a thumbs up, you know, a quiet like clap, you know, like, okay, good. We're we're doing all right. and then going into like regular performances where it's a full, a full house, that transition was, it was very welcomed. the live stream wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be. you think it would be a little more nerve wracking, I guess, because you have no, no physical feedback until like afterwards you can read comments and stuff. so I guess it was a little bit like being in the studio because in the studio, or even in our rehearsals, you're, you're kind of just vibing with each other and feeding off of each other's energy. So a lot of times I don't even like now performing in front of people, I can tune out the crowd and just focus on like what we're doing. and then I'll check in like, oh, there's people out there, not just in my room.

Troy Schlicker: That's interesting. And I'm sure there's different bands and artists and stuff that handle differently. I feel like if I was doing it, if I, if I wasn't on some live show, like the, the, the not having that feedback from the crowd would be odd to me anyway, personally, like that would seem like it would be a fun app, but, but I also, as I say that though, you also like a lot of the bands that I think of tend to be larger bands, you're talking about LA a lot larger crowds, right. So if you're going from someone who did stadium shows to doing shows just as a live stream, that that's A huge difference in feel and stuff. If you're doing, if you're a local band that might have 20 people or 30 people or five people show up to an event I'm going to the live stream probably isn't as dramatic of a change necessarily.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah. and it, it was just a good, it was a good change, for me personally, cause I was just like, all right, we're, it's like a regular rehearsal day, so I could close my eyes

Troy Schlicker: For someone that, for some of that has that nerves about performing and in changing to going from, oh, I get to be a basis that can kind of stand in the back and be out of the spotlight. I'm sure that, like I say that there's definitely a welcomeness. They're like, okay, now I've got to, I've got to speak and sing and do all this stuff in front of people. I can just pretend that they're not here because I can't see them through the camera. So it works out well, but they're not here.

Jasmine Jew: Yes. For me, that worked out very well.

Troy Schlicker: Very cool. So, what are some of the best way So, I mean, for you personally, the best ways to kind of either, if they have people have questions about your band, your art, or, questions about the Austin school of music, what are kind of the best ways to get in touch

Jasmine Jew: So for Austin school of music, we have a website with a contact page. we do have social media on Facebook and Instagram and a tick-tock. so you can find us on any of those, any of those pages at Austin, school of music. all one word and for my, my art I'm art by Jasmine Jew on Instagram and my band is tarantula mountain. So, we we've got videos and, social media and everything stuff on streaming.

Troy Schlicker: Do you guys, do you have any, you guys have any performances coming up soon

Jasmine Jew: We're playing next. It's one of my favorite bands in town and a couple other bands.

Troy Schlicker: Okay. And so that, that kind of cut out for just a minute there. So if you could repeat that, that would be awesome.

Jasmine Jew: Sure. my band is playing at Valhalla Tavern, down on red river next Saturday. And, we're playing with date eater, which is one of my favorite Austin bands. and I can't remember, I think queen Jane and Elegy are the other bands on the bill.

Troy Schlicker: So little red river district action.

Jasmine Jew: Yeah.

Troy Schlicker: Very nice. Cool. Well, Jasmine, I really appreciate you taking the time to jump on the Austin spotlight with me and share a little bit about you and your music, passion, and then also kind of about the Austin school of music. Cause I think there's, it's a, it's an very cool Austin thing. And for like, as much as it's awesome, the growth and everything that's happening, has it happens in Austin. It also does kind of take away some of the history sometimes too. And so to have a school like this, that's been around for that long and has a lot of awesome things going, that it does for the community is really cool.

Jasmine Jew: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my school. Very proud of it. And, with that growth and everything, with the growth of the town, our school is actually relocating from our current self location to a little further south down Manchester. And, we're excited for that change. You know, we'll have a, we have a cool spot picked out. We're going to keep our full recording studio and all our camps and classes in a, in a brand new building. So excited about that.

Troy Schlicker: That'll be fun. When will that, when you, when do you guys make that move

Jasmine Jew: We will be making that move up here in the next six months or so. So yeah, very exciting.

Troy Schlicker: I hope that goes very smoothly.

Jasmine Jew: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Troy Schlicker: Well, hope everyone has a wonderful rest of their day. Talk to you guys later.

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