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Interview: Michigander

5 April 2023

Photo by Hannah Hall

When I first met – and interviewed – Michigander’s Jason Singer in May 2021, he had just moved to Detroit and released the Everything Will Be Ok Eventually EP. In a recent conversation, we caught up on everything that has been going in Singer’s life the last two years including the release of a new EP (It Will Never Be The Same) that was years in the making.

A lot has happened since we last spoke. You moved to Nashville. You played Lollapalooza. You got married. You broke your leg while making a video. Postponed a tour. Postponed an EP. And now it’s all coming back around. Any other big life events?

JASON: Those are all the big ones. Also, did the Manchester Orchestra tour. It’s been a lot of stuff over a short period of time. It doesn’t seem that short.

Have the successes of the past 2 years felt like a culmination of everything you’ve been working towards? Does it feel like you’ve arrived?

JASON: No, I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way. I think it’s human nature to always want more and want whatever’s next. I’m someone who always wants the next best thing. At the same time, what I think is really important when you have a job like mine is you have to be content with where you’re at and what you’ve done. You have to be able to look back at what you’ve done and think, “I’ve done a pretty good job.” Hopefully, if you do a good job, you can be content.

Talk to me about how you were feeling after you finished “Let Down” at Lollapalooza 2021. I’ve seen the video and I think I probably would have broken down in tears just seeing and hearing the entire crowd singing along. Was it that kind of moment for you as well?

JASON: It was unbelievable. I walked off stage and I literally just started crying and saying, “I can’t believe that just happened.” It was crazy, I’ll never forget it. I just saw that the Lollapalooza lineup was announced and I looked up the old photos from when we played. That was so cool.

I heard “Let Down” when I was shopping at a home goods store. Have you heard the song when you’ve been out shopping or eating?

JASON: One time. I was at Kroger and I heard one of my songs but I didn’t realize it. My wife was like, “Listen.” I said, “What?” She said, “LISTEN.” I was like, “Ohhh, that’s cool.” I say that I’m only famous at shows or at coffee shops. Most of my fan base is either at a show or at a coffee shop. I’ve been at a couple of coffee shops where “Let Down” was playing and that’s always pretty cool.

Do you ever look around and say, “Hey, that’s me”?

JASON: There was one time right after I played Lollapalooza. We were at some breakfast restaurant and it was playing in the background. I was trying to embarrass my friends. I was like, “This is my song playing.”

What prompted the move to Nashville? Last time we spoke, you had just moved to Detroit.

JASON: I met my now wife and she lived here in Nashville and I spent a lot of time here and I realized it’s a pretty great music city, obviously. There’s a lot more that it has to offer than country music which is the reputation it has. There’s so many resources here for artists who are touring and rehearsal spaces and places where you can get your guitars set up and your amps fixed. There’s van rental companies here. On top of all those resources, there’s just this really cool community of people who are really dedicated to what they do. That’s what their job is, it’s to make music. There are people that are just starting, there are people that are a little bit road dogs, like myself, and then there’s people who are very successful and making a living off this thing. It’s cool to have peers around me that are doing what I’m doing at the level that I’m doing it and a lot of them are wildly better than me. It’s very encouraging and it gets me excited because it pushes me to be a better person and a better musician.

Did you find an instant community when you moved there?

JASON: Definitely. There are so many people here that I knew prior to moving here from all over the country who have moved here. And there’s all these new people that I get to meet who are so nice and awesome. In my experience, I don’t really feel the gatekeeping energy that you maybe would feel in a smaller market. In Michigan, I felt like everybody was a little more cutthroat because they have that scarcity mindset but now living in a place where everyone is doing this, you’re not special. It’s encouraging to be around.

What is the best thing about living in Nashville?

JASON: The coffee. There’s so many good coffee options. There’s too many good coffee options. That’s my favorite thing about Nashville.

Is this the first time you’ve worked with outside co-writers and collaborators?

JASON: This whole record is wildly collaborative. The credit sheet is a lot thicker on this one than it’s ever been before. That was interesting. It’s interesting to get out of your comfort zone and work with people who are also doing this and learning from them. The cool thing about these songs is there are a couple of them where I got to work with people like Manchester Orchestra, I got to work with Chris Carrabba [Dashboard Confessional]. Those people are legends in their own right. To get to be around them and to get to write and be in the same room as them, I learned so much. Beyond just music, I learned how to treat people. These guys don’t need to do this. They’re good. But, because they believe in a newer artist, they are giving up their time to show me how to do a song and be a part of what I’m doing. That is so validating. They don’t need to do that but they do it.

Michigander · In My Head (with Manchester Orchestra)

Was the idea to collaborate with other artists by your own choice or did your management pitch you the idea?

JASON: The first ever co-writing session I ever did was with a guy named Ryan Hurd. He’s a country artists from Michigan but he lives down here in Nashville. He was like, “Does Jason write with people?” and I was like, “I don’t know, sure.” I went and did it and I loved it. I asked if I could do more of that with more people and so my management and label were like, “Okay, let’s set it up.” We got a lot of good songs out of it.

I am starting to revert back to thinking, “Maybe I want to go back to writing all by myself again.” This is a far swing the other way. This is all collaborative. I’m trying to figure out the balance.

The EP was supposed to come out last year. Does it feel like you’ve been sitting on these songs forever?

JASON: Yeah, it’s very weird because I started making these songs in November of 2020. Everything Will Be Ok Eventually was done by the summer of 2020 and this EP, It Will Never Be the Same, was started around Thanksgiving of 2020 and then recording it into 2021. Then going, “Oh shoot, this isn’t what we wanted” and then re-recording it in 2022 with newer songs and different things. It’s been a long, long time and I’m already thinking pretty far ahead. I’m working on the debut album now. It’s kind of interesting to think of my music and that I haven’t released my debut yet. I’m still wading in the EP territory. This is the last EP. Everything from now, fingers crossed, will be a full record.

EPs aren’t bad. It’s not too much to consume in one sitting and it leaves you wanting more.

JASON: It’s interesting that I’ve built whatever I have now from EPs and singles. I feel like a lot of press and the industry doesn’t take you super seriously until you release a debut album. That’s when they start reviewing and caring.

Do you have a favorite song on the EP?

JASON: I think “Cannonball” is my favorite one or “Superglue”.

Do you feel like this EP is your big “swinging for the fences” moment?

JASON: Big time. This is the leveling up moment. This is the “farewell to a certain moment” of what I do and hopefully the next time around things will be a little bit different, sound a little bit different. Not bigger or better, just different.

You’re a hustler. You use social media to promote what you’re doing. You tag artists, restaurants, brands, etc. What kind of benefits have you seen from that? I saw that the Wendy’s account commented on one of your Instagram posts.

JASON: That’s a good question. The Manchester Orchestra collaboration was because I was covering one of their songs on Instagram and Andy saw it and dots got connected. That’s one thing. I think everything in my career has been because I have to be my biggest fan and be a little delusional about it all.

What is something you’ve thrown out there that hasn’t gotten a response but you’re hoping does?

JASON: I am reaching out on this tour and I’m trying to have special guests, secret special guests. I want to do a song of theirs with them. I’m just hitting up a bunch of artists that I admire in all these cities and I’m hoping to hear back. I’ve been left unread already once or twice today. I can’t say by who. I haven’t thought of anybody from Columbus, where you’re at.

The two that come to mind instantly are Twenty One Pilots and CAAMP.

JASON: Maybe I’ll hit CAAMP up. They follow me on Instagram. Doesn’t Eric Clapton live in Columbus?

 

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