Michigander is the indie rock alter ego of Jason Singer, a Midland, Michigan native now residing in Nashville, Tennessee. Michigander has released three EPs and garnered millions of streams on Spotify. His forthcoming EP, It Will Never Be the Same, drops March 31 on C3 Records. He will support the EP with a 21-date U.S. headlining tour that kicks off March 28 in Phoenix, Arizona. But before then, Michigander will be gigging at SXSW, which runs March 10-19 in Austin, Texas.
360°Sound is excited to see Michigander’s show at the legendary Austin blues club Antone’s on March 15. During our Zoom chat last week, Michigander discussed collaborating with indie rock stalwarts Manchester Orchestra, breaking his leg while filming a music video, and how he writes such catchy hooks.
360°Sound: You stood out to me in part because Chris Bisha, editor-in-chief of 360°, is also a Michigander. I’ve never been to Michigan. Is it a cool state?
Michigander: Oh yeah, it’s great. I live in Nashville now. Michigan is a great, great, great place. That’s probably why they have great lakes. I will always be very fond of it and will probably live there again one day.
What brought you to Nashville?
I lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan for a while then I lived in Detroit for a little bit. Then I got married and moved down here to Nashville. I just think the music scene is really good. It has a lot of the resources for a touring artist who’s my size. I’m not a massive artist, but I’m not just starting out anymore.
It’s really cool to be in a place where there’s a lot of collaboration that’s happening and a lot of people are touring. Great music shops and just a good community of people here.
Your songs have received millions of streams. What do you think it is about your music that’s resonating with people?
I would like to say that it’s just the honesty. I’m just kind of doing what I like to do and not trying to be something I’m not. Be yourself and make the music you want to make, and if people dig it, that’s extra. It’s fulfilling for myself just to make music in general. It’s pretty exciting to see people connect with it and enjoy it.
What can your fans expect from your upcoming EP?
It’s the first time I’ve worked with a different producer, so it sounds a little different. It’s also the best songs I’ve written. At the core, the songs are objectively good tunes, and it’s due to the amount of collaborations. I’d never really collaborated as much as a I had until this record. It’s really cool and exciting.
I’ve worked on it for so long and I’m just now talking about it with people. Today I’m talking with people on Zoom back to back to back. As I’m talking to you right now I’m kind of realizing what it’s about and processing my own thoughts. You’re like my therapist in a way [laughs]. It’s been cool to chat with people about it. I think it’s something that I will look back on and go, “That was a pivot point for me where things got better.” I think it’s a really important chapter to the story as a whole.
How do you write such catchy hooks? What’s your process like?
I usually try to get a melody first. I have some chords that sound good together and I’ve got this idea of what I want to say. And I kind of sit there and hopefully something pours out of what I’m saying and it makes a little sense. I write it down and record it, and I just work on it and work on it. That’s kind of where I’m at with it.
It’s always a little different process, too. Sometimes I’ll have a whole thing really easy. More so, as I’m getting a little older, I put a lot more time into it and try to be a little more intentional and critique myself and try to push myself to be better. I’ve got a piano, some synths, guitars, and recording gear. Sometimes I write with other people, and they have a similar setup and we just kind of get it going.
So you’re a multi-instrumentalist?
I am. I play mostly piano, keyboards, guitars and bass. As I’m progressing, I’m having more people involved who are better or different and they can add something to the sound. That’s been cool.
Is there a new sound you’d like to bring in? There are a lot of good session players in Nashville.
It’d be cool to have a banjo. Even if it’s just a little bit. That’d be a cool texture.
How was it collaborating with Manchester Orchestra for “In My Head”?
That was the absolute best. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, and a band I really look up to. Getting to work with them was really cool and something I’ll never forget. I went down to Atlanta. We wrote and recorded that song. We thought it was just going to be a demo, but then we ended up tweaking it and releasing it, and now it’s on the new EP. It’s definitely a highlight for me.
What can SXSW attendees expect from a Michigander show?
It feels like you’re at a family gathering. It’s good vibes. Everyone is happy, I think. We have a lot of fun.
You’ve got a 21-date cross-country headlining tour starting March 28. Excited about it?
I’m really excited. It’s a lot. But I’m ready to put the pedal to the metal and get goin’ and play some shows. Some stuff is selling out and selling well, so I think it’ll be pretty good.
What have been some of your favorite cities from all your touring?
I love Chicago. Always loved Chicago. Love Portland. Love Boise. It’ll be cool to go back home to Detroit and play a show for the people who have been there since day one.
Unfortunately, you broke your leg while filming the music video for your new single “Superglue.” However, you were able to make that part of the video.
I broke my leg while shooting a music video out in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. It was a pretty terrible thing. But I tried to make light of it in the video. It’s definitely not the video we wanted to make, but it’s the video we got.
It’s kind of funny to look back at that. I’ll never forget that one. The recovery was months and months and months. But I’m walking around and feeling good now.