Editor’s Note: Originally published in April 2019
The word “spiritual” can be defined as relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul. Jake Wesley Rogers’ new EP, “Spiritual,” is nothing short of the word’s meaning, touching the souls of everyone who has tuned in to listen. He is an unique pop artist and songwriter with a story to tell, and a voice to be heard.
The Springfield, Missouri native took his talents to Nashville, and recently graduated from Belmont University with a degree in Songwriting. Rogers is a songwriter for SONY/ATV Music Publishing while independently pursuing his artistry.
Rogers released his sophomore EP on April 4th, 2019. The first single off of the EP was “Jacob From The Bible.” This epic ballad of romance and self-discovery gave the world their first glimpse into what was to come since the release of Rogers’ debut EP “Evergreen,” two years ago. “Spiritual,” is a collection of songs heavily affected by religion, heartbreak, and personal growth. With musical role models such as Brandi Carlile and Joni Mitchell, Rogers’ goal is to be as honest and brave as he can in his lyrics.
Here at Music Mecca, we had a great time sitting down with Jake Wesley Rogers to learn a little bit more about the making of his EP “Spiritual,” and what else this star on the rise has in store.
Music Mecca: So you recently released your sophomore EP “Spiritual,” in early April. What has the response been like so far from fans and media?
Jake Wesley Rogers: It’s been a lot of love and a lot of peace since it’s come out. It was a year and a half in the making so a lot of that is tunnel vision and keeping your eyes on the prize and when it finally comes out you can’t really control anything after that point. I felt a really warm embrace of it which has been nice. It has gotten a pretty good response. It’s always nice getting some Spotify playlists. Lightning 100 has been spinning one of the songs “Little Queen,” which has been awesome. It has felt great. I kind of needed to put out this project for me and to lay down this foundation. We did it very DIY. There was no label or anything. It has been very rewarding.
MM: When reflecting back on the making of “Spiritual” ten years from now, what will you remember most?
JWR: I think I’ll remember the writing most of all. I was in a very good time where I was looking back and reflecting and trying to heal over some issues. The songs were the first step of that process. I’m really grateful that I have the ability to write about things. It doesn’t solve the problems, but it’s very cathartic. It was last summer when I wrote a lot of them and I’m already really nostalgic for that time. It was a really beautiful experience.
MM: How do you feel like you’ve grown as a musician and songwriter since the release of your debut EP “Evergreen”?
JWR: I think when that project came out I felt kind of lost creatively. I really love that project still. No regrets there, but I knew I hadn’t gone as deep as I wanted to go. Which I knew was going to be really scary and a lot of work. I’m really glad I took the time I needed and was able to give myself a lot of space. Originally I wanted to put something out a year ago, but nothing felt right. Now I’m really glad I waited.
MM: How did the inspiration for “Jacob From The Bible,” and the entire religious theme for the album come to you? Did your own religious beliefs play a role?
JWR: It was pretty natural. I mean I grew up going to church, but nothing that intense. I’m from Missouri though, so you know. Religion was something that was always all around me. I’ve always really loved religious iconography and paintings. It’s always calmed me, even though I’m not really a religious person. I love how Madonna sexualized religion in the 80s. And then with this project I didn’t really consciously do this, but I thought “Okay let’s queer this up a little,” and that’s something I’ve really loved about it. Taking something that has traditionally been very homophobic and conservative and attaching it to my own story to it.
MM: So was that difficult for you while you were growing up being gay and going to church?
JWR: There were definitely aspects of it that were hard, but I was grateful to have a close knit group of friends who were very supportive. I did theatre and everyone there was gay, and my family was very supportive so I always had that, but that being said most of the people in my town were not supportive in those ways. Even though those people weren’t the core people in my life, I learned to hide myself in certain ways and that takes a long time to unpack and work through.
MM: Do you think working on this EP worked through any of that for you?
JWR: Yes. It was the first step in the process. I was at a point in my life where I was finally able to write about things I never even thought were worthy of being written into a song, but they are.
MM: What was the decision process behind the wardrobe choices that are heavily featured in all your photoshoots and single/album covers for the songs on “Spiritual”?
JWR: A lot of the visual stuff I knew before I even had any of the songs. I knew I wanted it to be a darker, redder hue. I started this Tumblr where I would blog pictures, kind of like a mood board. It inspired the production of the songs. A lot of 1500s Christ pictures and witchy stuff. During all that I was kind of leaning into my own spirituality and flare with the occultism.
MM: When writing and recording this EP, did you have any specific musicians influencing your lyrics or production? If so, who are they?
JWR: A big album for me last year was Brandi Carlile’s “By The Way I Forgive You.” More than anything I feel like that album made me feel braver. She is very very honest and rugged. I had always been a fan, but when I first listened to that album it really affected me more than anything lyrically. That was probably my most listened to album last year. Kacey Musgraves’ record too. Mostly the beauty of the simplicity of her music. I had a Joni phase last year too. Those three woman made me feel more confident in my storytelling ability.
MM: Do you have a tour for the EP planned for the upcoming months?
JWR: Right now it’s kind of just one off things. I’ll be doing something in NY in June, and then something in Toronto. I just recently got an agent, so kind of working on that. I will be touring in Germany in the fall. It’s going to be very intimate shows which I’m excited about. I do hope to go on tour at some point in the next year or so.
MM: What’s your favorite part about the Nashville music scene?
JWR: I love that there’s still a lot to prove in the pop world here. It’s being supported but the infrastructure still isn’t there yet. There’s a lot of excitement. The people in pop who have kind of made it from Nashville always wind up going to LA. I’m feeling an exciting energy of the newness of it all. I just like being a human here. It’s on my level for how I want to live. I feel like I can have peace outside of it all. Being an artist and writer can be very up and down within one day, so it’s nice to have the stability that Nashville gives me.
MM: You recently graduated from the songwriting program at Belmont University and have been making a name for yourself very quickly in the industry. What, if any, advice would you give to a young songwriter at Belmont or anyone just arriving in Nashville to pursue their dreams of writing and performing?
JWR: I feel like I was always rewarded the most for being authentic and never really worrying about chasing a specific sound just because it was “current.” That’s what I always say. I think my favorite artists are always the ones who could only be free in their music themselves, like Brandi and the pop artist Robyn. It’s dance/pop music, but it’s so her and inspiring. She has been around for 25 years and has had different portions of her career, but has had that longevity because of her authenticity. To quote Kacey, “Be alright with a slow burn.” I feel the pressure every day when I think, “Oh my god I’m getting older,” but you have to build these things over time, and the best things are the ones that take time.
MM: So last question, if you could imagine yourself 5 years from now, where do you hope to be with your artistry or songwriting career by then?
JWR: In five years I’d love to be doing shows like the Mercy Lounge show I just did, but everywhere. I’d love to have an album or two under my belt. Recently I’ve been trying to put it out there to manifest. I do believe on the large scale in my artistry. I believe I do have a story to tell that I would love to take as big as we can. So I guess in 5 years I hope to be happily creating music, still.
For more on Jake and his music, check out his website HERE.