Q+A with singer & songwriter Michigander

Photography by Kris Herrmann

[dropcap letter=”A”]s a self-proclaimed optimist, Jason Singer is forced to the see the best in everything. That doesn’t mean everything works out though and on his latest single “Let Down” – released with his band Michigander – the singer/songwriter sings about dealing with that.

Euan Makepeace: You describe yourself as an optimist in the past and in your new single “Let Down” you touch on how that can have its consequences. How did you look within yourself to find the message for this song?
Jason Singer: It’s been a model of mine for a long time, hoping for the best but planning for the worst. And the song ends on an optimistic note with the lyrics, “Love will find you when it’s ready.” I do consider myself an optimist and usually a happy person and I think that has to do with it. Everybody deals with a bad day.

EM: When you released the single a couple of weeks ago you said this is a new era for Michigander, what does that mean to you?
JS: We’re partially coming out of everything that’s been happening the last few months and [Michigander] has always been more of a solo project, but now the band seems more like a collaborative effort than in the past. There are more people now in the studio working on the new music that is coming out next year which has a different sound. Everything recorded is a step forward and every record is something new, even though it builds off of where I was before.

EM: Is that something that happened naturally with you and the other guys in the band?
JS: Yes! It’s always been a rotating cast of characters who have played the shows, but last year we spent 150 days on the road and that was different from anything we’d done in that past. We’d never been close to that. I was writing songs in between touring and then we would run them in sound check whenever we had the chance and that never really happened before. Last year was a consuming year of music, the busiest we’ve ever been. A lot of that change came from that experience.

EM: At the beginning of August, you played a set with your band for the first time since the beginning of lockdown at Lincoln Hall. How did you navigate that extended period apart?
JS: From March to July I didn’t see any of the guys. Then we would hang out a little, but rehearsing that show was the first time getting together and playing as a band after not playing for so long. When we got to play together again there were smiles on all of our faces the whole time. After that show, we got to play in front of actual people at a drive-in in Chicago and we played it as if it was our last show together, but it felt like it was our first one. I think as soon as everything gets back to normal in terms of playing gigs and shows it’s going to be really special and we will appreciate it a lot more.

EM: Was it after that show that you decided to record this new material?
JS: At Lincoln Hall we debuted some new music live, but I’ve been recording remotely and a little bit one on one throughout [the pandemic] with my producer. The next EP is now basically finished and should be out next year. I’ve never had as much time as these last few months to finely craft the music and make it the best possible thing it could be. That’s what I am most excited about.

EM: This pandemic has affected people and artists in different ways. How has this year affected your artistic motivation?
JS: It’s been a year of ups and down. At the beginning of the year in January we were set to have the biggest year for the band. There were a lot of bucket list items that we had planned. In March we opened for Bernie Sanders in Grand Rapids, Michigan and that was our last show. Our last time playing together before everything shutdown. So, we went from one of our biggest performances, biggest crowds, and arguably at one of the most important feeling occasions we’ve played for—to complete shutdown. At first it was very jarring, and a little bit exciting. I was thinking that I could just work on whatever I wanted to do and make stuff happen. That was a really good feeling and then I went through a really down period where I was just down about everything. But as the music came together it reenergized me. That really got me through things. The day we released “Let Down” was such a huge boost for morale. We say the best day for an artist is getting your work out there to share with people, it’s a really great feeling.

EM: By the sound of things, this was going to be a big year for the band before the shutdown. What are your hopes for next year?
JS: As an optimist I hope that things get back to normal by April or May. I think that by next summer we’ll be in a good spot. Next year one way or another I am going to release a new EP and there’s a bunch of touring scheduled.

EM: You’ve mentioned the new EP that you are planning to release, what can be expected of that project?
JS: It’s a very ambitious sounding project. Like I said, I had more time to work on it than anything I had in the past which was really exciting. I would say that it is building off of what we’ve already done in the past, but it will be our biggest sounding EP. It’s been hard to hold onto it though. I can’t wait to put it out and to have it done now for over a month and having to wait for the spring is tough.

Click to listen to Michiganders new single “Let Down” and “48” on Apple Music, Spotify and TIDAL. Follow the band on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and be on the lookout for their new EP next year.

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