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I played a skank

Jakob (right) occasionally plays in Papa Quino’s (left) Big Mountain. Jakob’s “nightpop” act Space Heat, plays the Soda Bar on Sunday.
  • Jakob (right) occasionally plays in Papa Quino’s (left) Big Mountain. Jakob’s “nightpop” act Space Heat, plays the Soda Bar on Sunday.

“I don’t listen to reggae,” says Jakob McWhinney, guitarist and singer for Space Heat, an ambient pop group based in La Mesa. “Maybe I did as a kid because it was on in the house.”

Reggae was on in the house because Jakob’s dad, Quino McWhinney, was the lead singer of Big Mountain, the San Diego band that had a worldwide hit in 1994 with a reggae remake of Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way.”

But Jakob wasn’t a convert as a kid.

“I was in Big Mountain briefly, and that was the first time I ever played a skank.”

Despite being only 24, Jakob has an extensive musical background, everything from Dylanesque singer-songwriter stuff, side gigs with Big Mountain, to experimental bedroom recordings.

Now his focus is the ambient pop of Space Heat, a five-piece group that will be playing November 23 at the Soda Bar.

“We want to make accessible music that is ambient and introspective,” Jakob says. “It’s riffy and has breakdowns that tangent into other things — like floating instead of falling. We call it ‘nightpop.’”

Jakob’s “nightpop” is literally night and day from the sunny reggae music that made Papa Quino a headliner at the Reggae Sunsplash, reggae’s biggest musical festival.

Past Event

Space Heat, Habits, Alligator Indian

  • Sunday, November 23, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+

But Dad couldn’t be prouder.

“I’m blown away by him,” Quino said during a break from working on Perfect Summer, Big Mountain’s first new album in 11 years. “His arrangements are interesting. It blows me away. He always had the songwriting. Now he has the groove.”

As father and son, the two had their challenges, Jakob says.

“It was never rainbows and butterflies and throwing footballs on Sundays,” he admits. “Musically, I wanted to create as wide a divide as possible. We’re very different people and I had this nightmare of succeeding on someone else’s coattails.

“But he has helped me over the years, and I understand where he’s coming from now. I guess the best advice he’s given me would be don’t compromise. That’s something he learned the hard way.”

Quino, 48, says in some ways the child has become father to the man.

“Jakob has encouraged and supported the new direction Big Mountain is taking on the new album,” Quino says. “We’re letting the arrangements breathe more, and I’m more open about adding country and blues influences to the mix.

“It’s tough to be old and hip, but Jakob is hip and I love to be around him and feel that.”

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