Jason DiEmilio

1996. I had just started a record label/mail order house called No-Fi and I quickly needed some stuff to fill out the catalog as I was running out of unwanted CDs in my collection to sell off. There was a guy in Philadelphia named Jason who posted to the DroneOn list. He had a 7″ single label called Doorstep Vinyl and was discontinuing it to concentrate on his band The Azusa Plane and a new label called Colorful Clouds.

I sent him $50 bucks for a few things, but in return he sent me a GIANT BOX of singles, probably everything he had. I didn’t get a chance to thank him until a year or so later at Terrastock II in San Francisco. I babbled at him about how much I liked Azusa Plane’s set (“as loud and final as an asteroid strike!” or something) but he was frustrated and kept apologizing for the rushed set because the time was changed at the last minute and really, they were rushing so they wouldn’t miss Roy Montgomery. I don’t believe he made it out to the west coast after that. I think that last time I heard from him was in 2001 when I contacted him to get hold of The Highway’s Jammed With Broken Heroes which I think was his last release.

Last year, I was driving at night through a snowstorm in Oklahoma and a track from Tycho Magnetic Anomaly… came on shuffle play. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate, compelling, and well unnerving track to listen to then. I always wondered what he was up to.

Today this message showed up on DroneOn:

Subject: [DroneOn] woah – Jason/Azusa Plane dies
Date: November 1, 2006 12:59:46 PM PST
To: droneon@lists.quartzcity.net

Just heard on another list Jason DiEmilio of Azusa Plane died recently. He had some severe medical problems that, among other things, basically left him unable to listen to music so he ended his life.

In the later 90’s I listened to a lot of AP and played AP on my radio show. I was just looking at the chunk of split 7″ers in my singles boxes a few weeks ago. Didn’t he used to post here way back? Jason provided a soundtrack to many hours of my life. I hope he’s someplace where he can listen to tunes again.

How many times do people say “I wish we’d kept in touch” after tragedy? Way too goddamned much.

*sigh* R.I.P.

Author: Chris Barrus

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7 thoughts on “Jason DiEmilio”

  1. Sad news. It reminded me that I sent an email to Jason about two years ago asking if he was still offering any of those AP 45s through Colorful Clouds for Acoustics. He told me that he had thrown all that stuff out as “unsellable” and seemed surprised that anyone would care to ask. Very depressing, because people certainly did care.

  2. Hello all
    I rode a bike cross country with Jason (we called him the Blade) for charity in 1992. He was one of my best buddies on that trip and was saddened to hear the news on his death. I did not realize what an icon he was in the music community. I am truely saddened to know he was in that much pain and had to take his life. He will be in my thoughts and just wanted to give a shout out from his pre music days. RIP Blade, Look America Rules

  3. I also knew Jason as “Blade” from college as well as high school. I am terribly sad to hear of his passing. Although I havent talked to him in many, many years he was a big part of my college life. It is amazing to read how many lives he touched. I hope he is at peace listening to the music that made him so happy.

  4. I am Jason’s aunt, he was like a son to me. When I am feeling down about his passing, like today, I search the web to find kind people that have fond memories of him. He was a great guy who loved music. It was his life and all of that was taken away six years ago when he got an extreme case of hyperacusis and tinnitis. To have both of these illnesses is very rare and debilitating. I know he perservered for years and tried every doctor and remedy to find some relief but there was none to be found. I too hope he is in a better place listening to music and playing his guitar and calling all of us “monkeys” for being sad.
    I do have some of his records if you would like to email me at caroosevelt@comcast.net and I would be glad to let you know what I have and if you are interested.

  5. Tycho-Magnetic Anomaly…(etc. etc…such a long title) is easily among the recordings most essential to me. Occasionally I wondered why I wasn’t hearing anything new from Azusa Plane.

    (I have in fact heard a couple of his later releases. Though by the time of The Highway’s Jammed…–which I’ve never heard of until now–I must have lost track.)

    It wasn’t easy to locate his work…all those 7-inches. Wouldn’t it be a fine tribute if his singles were compiled? Sad though that it didn’t happen sooner, so that his work would have been more widely heard while he was still with us.

    I’d exchanged e-mails with Jason once or twice (I “knew him” only from the DroneOn list) and got the same impression: that he had little regard for his own work.

    It’s difficult to maintain the emotional and physical energy that creative effort requires…much more so without having the feeling of one’s work being acknowledged or appreciated. Nick Drake (and his song “Fruit Tree” in particular) comes to mind. Another person whose talent was indeed valued, a fact not clear to the artist himself.

    Music is so important to me; I don’t know whether I could live without it. It’s difficult to imagine how much more keenly I’d feel that kind of loss, if I were a musician and not merely a listener.

    My condolences to his loved ones. Much belated but I’ve only stumbled onto this, just now.

  6. Everytime I listen to The Smiths, I think of Blade. In your life, you meet few people who have no enemies. Jason was one of those guys. No one could ever not call Jason a friend. He will always be my friend.

  7. I came across this thread while doing a search on musicians and hyperacusis. I don’t know Jason’s work but I’m going to check it out now. I developed hyperacusis and tinnitus five and a half years ago and my case is quite severe too. I also developed tonic tensor tympani syndrome and recently found out I have an additional type of hyperacusis caused by a hole in the bone between the ear canal and the brain. Anyway, bla bla bla, but I know what he was going through. It’s a very difficult condition to explain to people so that they really understand how it effects us.

    I had a very successful career as a Foley artist (sound for film and television) and also enjoyed playing trombone with several bands. I’ve had to give up my career and seriously curtailed my music playing. I tried not playing at all for a year to see if my symptoms improved. It didn’t make much difference overall, I just didn’t get the sound hangover following playing. But I found that I would rather put up with the extra pain and days of being totally useless after playing. Not having music in my life was harder to cope with. The hyperacusis had already caused me to lose so many activities that gave me pleasure that I had to claw back something. I now manage to play about eight or ten times a year – rehearsals and gigs included. It’s not much, and it’s a huge difference compared to what I used to do. I hope that Jason is out there somewhere managing to play to his heart’s content.

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