Though Jason Singer — a 29-year-old rocker (and Midland native) who performs as Michigander — made the conscious choice to avoid the words “pandemic” and “2020” when writing his latest songs, the zeitgeist is nonetheless embodied by the title of his six-song EP Everything Will Be OK Eventually.
The phrase became a mantra for Singer when his first-ever invitation to play at Lollapalooza last year — a lifelong dream — went up in smoke.
“At first it was like, ‘Lollapalooza’s going to get moved to the fall,’ and you’re like, ‘OK,’ and then, ‘Just kidding, it’s getting canceled,’” Singer says via Zoom during a recent tour stop in Denver. “Truthfully, the way I got through that was just saying, ‘Everything will be OK eventually.’ That was a real thing I texted friends so often, and that’s why it became my title.”
While he was unable to perform, Singer got into video games, lost 100 pounds, got engaged, moved from Kalamazoo to Detroit, and opted to create a timeless “soundtrack of healing” instead of a straight-up pandemic record.
The choice appears to be paying off. Michigander will open for The Lumineers on tour in December and Manchester Orchestra in the spring; he’s got a show scheduled Nov. 4 at Detroit’s Magic Stick; and when he finally took the stage at Lollapalooza in August, an enthusiastic crowd of 8,000 sang along to every word of his poppy single “Let Down.”
Hour Detroit: I can imagine Lollapalooza being like your wedding day, where it’s hard to take it in while it’s happening.
Jason Singer (aka Michigander): There was one moment onstage where I remember asking the crowd, ‘Could we all just take this in for a moment?’ And we all just stood there. … I remember walking offstage and just crying, because it was kind of unbelievable.
How do you think growing up in Michigan influenced your sound?
I’m a product of what I got to hear, and where I was originally from, in Midland. We didn’t have a music scene. … We just had Top 40 [stations] and whatever you could get on CD at the library. So I would rent CDs. … Like, I had Coldplay, and Norah Jones, and John Mayer, and Death Cab for Cutie, and Dashboard Confessional — bands like that.
Was it a mixed blessing to not have a local music scene to look to for models?
What I was trying to imitate were the biggest bands in the world. Those were the only bands I knew, and so I didn’t understand that there was an in-between. I didn’t understand that there were bands my size touring and playing in clubs. … I still have big aspirations to play in arenas and stadiums one day, but I would be very happy just to keep building where I’m at right now.
When we’re young, the first music we hear is often what our parents listen to. What music played around your house as a kid?
The thing I listened to most that I remember is my parents had a cassette tape of James Taylor’s greatest hits. My parents listened to a lot of music, but for some reason, that cassette, I can picture it, I remember it. I remember all the songs. I remember listening to it on our boat as kids. I remember listening to it in the house after we had to sell the boat because we didn’t have any money. Those songs were just the coolest songs I knew.
You’ve mentioned in interviews that a previous show you did at the Magic Stick was among your all-time favorites. Why is that?
That room is just pretty iconic. There have been so many artists who’ve played there that I really love. I remember when I was in eighth grade being at my friend’s house, and his brother brought home a VHS tape, and it was a bootleg video recording of The White Stripes playing at a place called the Magic Stick. So then, years later, we played it in 2018, and it was just this really electric show. I’m really excited for the show coming up. And it’s like our homecoming, too. After being gone for 40 days, we get to play at one of my favorite rooms, in a city I love so much, for people I love so much.
For more information, visit michiganderband.com.
This story is featured in the November 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.