Now in his 30s, with a decade of experience behind him performing and working the business side of the music industry, he’s just released his first CD – an EP album of seven songs he wrote, sang, accompanied and engineered in a New York studio he designed and built himself. Called Fe (pronounced “fay”), after the chemical symbol for iron, the album is, he says, “a mix of soaring sounds and arena swagger.”
“It’s been reviewed as ‘brilliant’ by Vince Clarke of Depeche Mode,” says Langfelder. “I describe the music as ‘synth heavy intelligent pop.’ The idea to call the album Fe is based on what I believe – it’s like a metaphor for finding the iron, the personal strength within you.”
Many of the songs were inspired by his experiences living and working in New York. The title track, “I Am Fe,” is Langfelder’s anthem of arrival.
“It’s like I’m saying here I am, show me what you’ve got. I was also inspired by the revolt against Wall Street. Of course, there are songs about relationships too. Track 3 contains my favorite lyrics. It questions feelings and the moments when we are overwhelmed.”
“I’ve worked both sides of the table where music is concerned. Casting, agenting – those things pay the rent and allowed me to pay off my grad school debts. I’ve done musical theater, toured. But all along my heart’s been in pop music. It’s what I hear in my head.”
Home in Springfield for the holidays with his parents, former Mayor Ossie Langfelder and his wife, Midge, plus his 12 brothers and sisters, Langfelder is the youngest of the family’s six sons. Other than his sister, Jamie Cour, who is a music teacher, he’s the only Langfelder with a career in music.
“Growing up, we all took music lessons, sang, played in school bands. Our mom was an art teacher and she made sure we had cultural interests. When I was really little, I’d sit in the attic with hundreds of albums, studying the lyrics and liner notes. One of the first live bands I ever saw was a local group called Boys on Chemicals. I liked them so much I still wear their T-shirt. By the time MTV came along, I was going to the Springfield convention center to see bands like Loverboy, and Madonna at Soldier Field in Chicago. The biggest moment was probably when my brother, Johnny, took me to see U2 in 1987 at the U of I in Champaign.”
“Back then, I pretty much lived for pop music – and Pease’s candy.”
College for Langfelder was six years at various schools around the country. He did it with scholarships, seeking out places where he could study with notable music teachers. “I was lucky I finished undergrad with no debts, but getting a master’s in musical theater at Boston Conservatory left me with $60,000 in loans. I took every job I could to pay it off. “
Langfelder won the prestigious Kurt Weill Foundation music competition in 2001 that landed him a recital in New York’s Lincoln Center. He says performing at Lincoln Center was the turning point. He had no desire to live anywhere but New York.
“They say you need a decade to become a New Yorker, so I’m official now. It’s not an easy city, or an easy life. It takes fe – an iron core.”
Jacob Langfelder will perform and sign CDs of “Fe by Langfelder” beginning 9 p.m. Dec. 29 at Bar None, 245 S. 5th St. His CD is also available on iTunes. For more information go to www.langfelder.com.
Julie Cellini writes about culture and interesting people for Illinois Times.