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July 2017 - Michigander

Midland Soft Rocker Refuses to Sacrifice Authenticity

Story by LCC Radio Reporter Sarah Spohn

Michiganders: known for their high tolerance of snow, the frequent Michigan left turn, and a love for MichiganderEuchre. Michigander: Jason Singer’s ‘really heavy soft rock’ Kalamazoo band making waves throughout the state’s music scene.

When twenty-four-year-old Jason Singer found his dad’s guitar in the closet when he was 11, the Midland native began playing in church. That discovery led him to fall for Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Oasis, and U2. After years of practice and a high school Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band, Singer began to play with other Michigan musicians including Rival Summers and Mike Mains. And now, it’s his time to shine with Michigander.

What started out as a solo project quickly evolved into a full-band feel. Transitioning from solo gigs to a fuller sound was a very natural thing for Singer, who used to play cover gigs in bars under the moniker.

“I’d get paid a few hundred dollars to play covers in the corners of bars,” Singer said. “It was very cool. But then as I started playing 30-45 minute sets with just original music and lots of people would show up. I sort of got away from the bar gigs. So the money became less, but the feeling was a lot better.”

Money isn’t everything, and this notion certainly pertains to musicians; most can’t solely depend on music as a full-time career. Day jobs are often a necessary evil, even for Singer, who actually went from focusing exclusively on music, but has since added a part-time job at a coffee shop.

“I used to think you needed to quit your job to pursue music,” he said. “But unless you are touring 150+ days a year, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Having a day job can be so valuable.”

Adding a full-band sound has also been an invaluable asset, allowing Michigander to be on the bill of many festivals including SXSW, Common Ground Music Festival.

“According to Singer, “the timing was just right and the right people just kind of all fell into place. There wasn’t really much pursuit. It really opens up the doors for where you can actually play. You can’t really play a festival as a solo act,” he said.
The band is gearing up to play MO POP, Detroit’s festival on the Riverfront at the end of July, a feat that was almost unimaginable for Singer.

“It’s been weird to see so many cool things happen so quickly,” he said. “Getting the email for SXSW was pretty surreal. It made me cry. Same with the MO POP email. I’ve been really fortunate with getting to know and work with some of the best around.”

Playing for Flint Eastwood’s release show was a highlight for the band, an unbelievable, indescribable feeling and energy felt within Detroit’s Masonic Temple. Having had some success in the fairly short time Michigander’s been around, Singer is looking forward to the future.

“I think the scene is finally starting to actually lay groundwork for big things,” he said of the Michigan music scene.”

“I think there are bands really setting a path for new bands to come up and slay it. I wish more bands would take things seriously though … I feel like a lot of bands are trying to be relevant while sacrificing authenticity. That needs to change if Michigan bands want to be taken seriously.”

Carbon copies are never appealing, and Michigander pride themselves on being their authentic, true selves both on and off stage.

“I think a lot of bands are just copying each other and have been for years; just recycling the same cycles. I’m trying to do something different, you know? Trying to see what larger, more successful bands are doing and putting my own twist on what those acts are doing.”

In fact, the lead vocalist and guitarist looks up to a pretty iconic band, U2 for its philanthropic endeavors.

“I tend to look up to people I haven’t really met,” he said. “I really admire the way U2 try to make a change in the world. They arguably saved Africa from AIDS (or still are saving). I think that’s cooler than being a snobby ‘rock star.’ I’m also inspired by the people Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) has surrounded himself with. It’s really cool to see what’s happening up in Wisconsin and that whole scene.”
As for now, Michigander has seen success with its streaming singles, “Fear” and “Nineties,” also landing spots on exclusive Spotify playlists. Plans for an album are in the works. “I would LOVE to put out an album,” Singer said, “I love albums.”

“That’s how I listen to music. But for where I’m at putting out singles makes more sense. It gives each song the attention it needs instead of risking having some songs looked over. There will be an album one day,” he said.

Singer recalls the best advice he’s ever been given: “Things will happen when they need to happen,” he said. If the current state of gigs, collaborations and festival lineups are any indication, things are certainly happening for Michigander.

You can catch Michigander live in concert at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on July15, MO POP July 29 in downtown Detroit, August 8th at the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Other solo shows in September are on the books as well as a to-be-released single late summertime. “


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