Studiohead

Jared Cole makes the tokeable listenable

A few months ago, I had my first conversation with Jared Cole, a local DJ, promoter, producer, singer/songwriter, and, um... stoner. Anyone who's met Cole knows that this guy likes to toke. And toke. Cole's promotions venture is called Toker Productions, and his "Top 24" friends on MySpace (www.myspace.com/jaredcolemusic) include a nugget of weed. Anyway, Cole promised that he had a story to tell and that I needed to hear it. Notice how he said "a story to tell," not "an album to sell." That's what caught my interest. Fats loves musicians with a good tale or two. It's always preferable to hearing about how a band is the "next big thing" and how I just have to write a glowing feature about 'em. Don't get me wrong — I have nothing against bands that want to make it big (well, not for that reason, anyway). But there's more to this music game than trying to impress guys in suits. There's this little thing called the creative process. And that's all a DIY musician like Cole knows. So when he contacted me a couple of weeks ago to remind me of his story, I gladly met up with him. Especially after what he told me during our phone conversation.

"Jim Morrison haunted me — he forced me into music," the 26-year-old Cole said. "I was smoking pot on my porch one day when I was 18. The Doors' 'Waiting for the Sun' came on the radio. I heard it, and I thought, 'Wow, I never knew you could make music like that.' And while I listened to that song, these big lizards came up to hang out with me on the porch. Only when I listened to the Doors did the lizards come out."

But the actual haunting came later, when Cole bought a psychedelic poster of Morrison and hung it on his bedroom wall.

"One time, I was rolling and looking at the poster, and I saw Jim wink at me," Cole recalled. When something like that happens, you gotta take it as a sign. And when you hear a story like that, you have to see it for yourself. So, curious to get a look at this poster, I met with Cole at his home in Margate. Earlier, he'd been working on some tracks at the nearby Jar Studios, where he does all his recording and producing.

"I have no rules when I record," Cole said. "I like to experiment while smoking some pot. I've almost gotten to the point where I don't like music if I'm not stoned."

Normally, I'd interpret that statement as "I don't know how to write a song, and I don't care." But Cole is not your average stoner. He's a damned productive stoner, spending most of his waking hours between studio work, Internet promotions, and financing it all with a few high-paying DJ gigs every month. Some of those jobs are private parties; others are anything but private — namely, his pregame gigs for the Florida Marlins at Dolphins Stadium. Cole's been doing this for about three years now, after his buddy DJ Immortal hooked him up with 105.9 FM, the event's sponsor.

"When I DJ at the Marlins games, there are like 15,000 people who walk by me," Cole said. "I'd like to have a banner with my name so I could get some more promotion. But I can't afford something like that."

And that's Cole's biggest problem — he needs more of the green stuff that you can't smoke. Things could be worse, though. At least Cole has the studio hookup. It's something that just sort of fell into his lap — but only after he busted his ass learning how to use all the recording equipment.

"A few years ago, I was working on a four-song EP when James, one of the studio's owners, had a falling out with his partner, Justin," Cole said. "Justin was broke and needed rent money or he was out. So he made me an offer. If I came up with $250 in 24 hours, he'd teach me how to use all the gear and do my own recording. I got him the money, and two weeks later, I knew how to use everything in there."

Since then, Cole's been recording his various projects as well as making a few extra bucks recording other bands. But so far, Cole's had the dough to mass-produce only one album, Enhance Brain, done under the name Tokeable Object Project. It's a collaborative effort, including locals like Chopp Devize, DJ Immortal, Danny Gardner, D.J. Ginsberg, Peter Cochrand, and the Overfiends. The songs are a mix of psych, hip-hop, folk, rock, jazz, and loads of experimentalism. And it works... whether you're stoned or not.

Cole has several albums mixed and ready to go — three solo albums (Virginiahead, Penguin Music, and The Early Years Stoned), two more Tokeable Object Project recordings (a D.J. Ginsberg album), and a tripped-out collaboration with Gardner called 20 Bucks in 20 Minutes.

"Each song is in a different key, starting with A," Cole explained while Fats listened to the Casio-heavy recording. "If this goes well, we'll make an album of all sharps."

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