If you’ve followed The Indy Review for a while now, you’ve probably become acquainted with the smart, bold indie rock/pop of Michigander (aka Jason Singer). He’s been honing his songcraft since 2014, and first came to my attention with his excellent 2021 EP Everything Will Be Okay Eventually (read our review of it here).
Things haven’t been easy the last couple years; Singer broke his leg while filming the video for his sharp new single “Superglue”, and his wife was hit and injured by a car. Add all of this to the pandemic, which was especially hard on independent musicians, and you can imagine the toll this would take on anyone.
Yet, listening to Singer’s latest EP, It Will Never Be the Same, dropping this Friday, March 31st, the world hasn’t brought him down yet. Filled with memorable, ebullient tracks bursting with upbeat energy, the songs are coming from a positive outlook on the future, even if the past hasn’t always been kind.
Singer took some time to discuss his new EP with us, going into the songwriting process, his first time collaborating, and his evolving live show.
Indy Review: Hi Jason, great to be speaking with you. First, how are you and your wife doing following the accidents you both suffered last year?
Jason Singer: Hey! We’re both doing a lot better. It’s been a crazy journey, but we’re on the up.
IR: Watching the video for “Superglue,” I’m sure the experience of having that accident in such a remote place must have been scary, but you seem to handle it with a great attitude. Did you decide then and there to use that BTS footage as part of the music video?
JS: No, that was an afterthought. But I’m glad Justin and Johnny kept the camera rolling because I’m not sure we would have a video without it.
IR: “Superglue” sounds like one of the biggest songs, production and sound-wise, that you’ve written. When writing, are you consciously thinking about making tracks that can fill bigger venues?
JS: That song specifically is a song I wrote with the show in mind. It’s already been so fun to play live. I bet its gonna so good at festivals one day.
IR: Even though it’s a very upbeat track, the content of “Superglue” is focused on the internal conflict about pursuing someone who may not love you back. Does writing more positive and pop-leaning songs come naturally to you, or do you have to consciously pull yourself away from more melancholic melodies?
JS: That’s a good question. I feel like that tends to be how I naturally create. I think it’s a true reflection of who I am as a person.
IR: The first three songs on the new EP (“Superglue,” “Stay Out of It” and “The Other Way”) seem to share a theme of protecting yourself from heartbreak. Are they coming from a place of hindsight, and wishing you could advise your past self?
JS: I don’t think so. I think I’m the happiest I’ve been. I think the songs sort of are narratives on social situations that bum me out. “Superglue” is a song about my career. “Stay Out Of It” is a song about not being able to keep my mouth shut. “The Other Way” is a song about watching friends make dumb choices.
IR: For the musical arrangements and production, were there any key influences you were trying to emulate? I hear a lot of new wave-style guitar tones and layered tracks on the first four tracks.
JS: I think this is the first EP where I was being self-referential. I think I’m finally at a point in my career where all my influences have melted and molded together. which now kind of just feels like my own sound.
IR: “In My Head” is your first major recorded collaboration (with Manchester Orchestra). What sparked the initial seeds of the song and working with M.O. on it?
JS: We met online, and then I went to Atlanta to write a song with them. We weren’t sure what was going to happen, but it worked out so well. They’re the absolute best people and I’m so so so proud of that song.
IR: That song has a very different feel to it than the EP’s opening tracks, with a much more stripped-down production and heavier guitars and drums. Was this part of M.O.’s hand in the writing process, or did you have that rawer sound in mind when the track first germinated?
JS: Absolutely. They really helped craft the sonic vibe on that one. It was such a great learning experience to watch them create. I learned so much from that session.
IR: Along with the work with M.O., It Will Never Be the Same is your first time collaborating with outside songwriters. How hard was it to let new voices into your writing process, especially when some like Chris Carraba (Dashboard Confessional) are performers themselves?
JS: I don’t think it was that hard. Maybe it’s because the people I’ve worked with are such great writers, it was easy to trust them. The biggest part of collaboration is finding people you trust. That’s when the magic happens.
IR: Were there any memorable moments from these collaborations that changed the way you thought about songwriting or arrangement?
JS: I think the biggest thing I learned was to never take myself too seriously. Doing that can often cause you to put yourself or those you’re working with in a box.
IR: Outside of the creation of the songs, how involved do you like to be in the other aspects of releasing music? The marketing, music videos, the promotion, merch and artwork design, etc.?
JS: I try to be very hands on. Maybe too hands on? I want to believe in every aspect of what I’m doing so if I don’t have a hand in it, it’s hard for me to care.
IR: You’re relatively active on social media; do you feel it’s been an important part of creating a report with your fans? Has it helped you connect with any artists you admire?
JS: Oh absolutely. I’m trying to find the balance. It’s a dance. But I like sharing what I’m doing. I try to be accessible. I’ve connected with and discovered so many amazing artists through social media. It’s always so exciting finding something new.
IR: Your tour is finally starting at the end of this month. How long does it take you to finesse your set-lists? Do you listen to fan requests on socials?
JS: I think this is the first time the setlist is really dialed in. Trying to give people what they want but at the same time make them hungry for more. These will be such great shows.
IR: How have you changed/evolved your live performances since your earliest days playing to audiences? What are some challenges you’ve worked on overcoming to become the performer you want to be?
JS: I think I’ve taken the shows a little more seriously. I do vocal warmups before every show now. I try to meditate before shows too. I really want to give people their money’s worth.
IR: Finally, if you could make one lasting impact or change to popular music as it is now, what would it be?
JS: That you don’t have to be a cool guy to be in a band.
Catch Mighigander on tour now, and be sure to listen to his new EP when it drops this Friday (you can find it in this week’s New Music Friday Playlist). Until then, you can listen to the pre-released tracks below!