Admittedly, “j.ivar” is a terse and grammatically incorrect eponym for the artist’s given name – Jason Ivar Aizkalns. The latent mountain imagery and branding is a nod to his Latvian heritage. Aizkalns loosely translates to "beyond the hill" or, using of some creative liberties, “beyond the mountain”. While semantically and visually these ideas are paternal, we recognize that any man is equal parts mother and father. Arguably, j.ivar’s musical drive is more maternal in nature and draws upon a rich family history in this fantastic art.
After all, it was j.ivar’s maternal grandfather, Vincent Costello, who created the family business test in 1930 in Cleveland, Ohio. Vince opened a musical instrument repair shop and established Costello’s Music. Repairing instruments for the big bands that would travel through the city, Costello’s Music serviced the likes of Sammy Kaye, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, and the “King of Swing” Benny Goodman, to name a few. Vince was also a drummer and had his own swing band.
Eventually, Vince returned to his homestead in upstate New York where he opened a full line music store. The expanded product portfolio included not only musical instruments, but microphones, PA equipment, stage lighting, home organs, and even televisions! Getting his son Jim involved in the family business, Costello’s Music would grow to include installations of audio, video, and lighting equipment. In 2005, Jim relocated the business to Florida where Trinity Audio, Video, & Lighting was born. Trinity-AVL continues to service the state and surrounding areas.
Born in the 80’s, j.ivar was raised by his mother, Mary Jane, and his late father, Ivar. Along with his older sister, Laura, the family would make a series of small moves along the I-270 corridor in Montgomery County, Maryland. The constant, however, was always music.
Given his family’s compelling lineage, it is perhaps unsurprising that j.ivar took to music at an early age. By age three (3), he was playing keyboard utilizing the Suzuki Method. Throughout his childhood, he would primarily study piano and music under the instruction of Katherine Williams. Circa 1996, his fondness of digital synthesis would come by way of a Roland XP-10 workstation synthesizer. This synth would also give j.ivar his first taste of the stage life via a Kingsview Middle School talent show (sunglasses included). Around this same time, he started to play trumpet in the orchestra which he would carry throughout high school. He would eventually join the high school choir and formally study music theory, both under the direction of Jolene Brubaker Baxter. Simultaneously, he began exploring recording, mixing, production, and songwriting. Most notably, he composed the commencement song, "Standing By You", which he performed live alongside the Quince Orchard High School choir and fellow musicians on June 9, 2004.
Late senior year of high school, passport in hand, j.ivar was on the brink of pursuing a technical degree from the SAE Institute Australia. Ultimately persuaded by family and friends that a stateside Bachelor’s degree would be of less risk and greater utility, he attended the State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia beginning in 2005 pursuit of a degree in Sound Recording Technology. There he was privileged to receive additional piano instruction from the acclaimed Father Sean Duggan. He would also befriend David Schoenwetter and Adam Korbesmeyer. Nonetheless, j.ivar would leave SUNY Fredonia after only a year. Motivated in part by the allure and closer proximity to a lovely young lady (who would eventually become his wife), j.ivar found himself completing his undergraduate studies at Shippensburg University and graduated with degrees in computer science, mathematics, and music. Between summer jobs, he recorded and mixed amateur bands and musicians out of his father’s garage in Germantown, Maryland
Like his grandfather, j.ivar would find his way to Cleveland, albeit to begin professional life as an actuary for Progressive. Life carried on and j.ivar relocated to Berks County, Pennsylvania where he would marry that lovely young lady. There he would go on to earn his MBA from Alvernia University and, through a series of career opportunities, he developed a second passion for analytics and data science.
Today, j.ivar resides in Sinking Spring, PA with his wife (Leslie), daughter (Hadley), and a bichon-pomeranian mix named Lilly.