Since releasing his previous singles including 18, hills that i’ll die on and broken, last month, Jonah Kagen released his latest song The Roads, with the music video being filmed in the Cotswolds in Southern England. In December last year, Jonah’s debut EP georgia got colder was released through Arista Records, and he collaborated with Matoma in 2021 for the single Summer Feeling. Jonah has announced his first headline tour, starting 9th October in Washington, before finishing in Atlanta on the 16th, and he has supported Anson Seabra in Europe, UK and Ireland and performed live for the first time when he supported Maisie Peters on her North American Tour last year. Speaking to Jonah recently, he told us about his latest single The Roads, supporting Anson Seabra and Maisie Peters on their tours and his upcoming headline tour in October.
Last month, you released your latest single The Roads, can you tell us about the song?
The Roads is my favourite song I’ve released to date. It’s about the lasting consequences of letting the wrong person in. I wanted it to feel big, powerful, and painful. I think it really sets the tone for what’s to come in my music and my writing.
What was The Roads like to write and where did you get the inspiration from for the lyrics?
The writing process was actually fairly quick. I wrote the chorus late at night alone in my apartment just a few days after moving to Nashville. I was just thinking about how crazy it is that your choices and relationships with people can have effects on you that last your entire life. Ultimately I think that’s a good thing, because you learn so much, but the thought that there are things that I do or avoid because of my choices years prior was ringing in my head. I knew it was going to be special when I wrote the chorus, but I didn’t want to force it, so I put it away and finished the verses later, just basically writing what happened to me.
How long were you working on the single and how did you feel when it was released?
While the writing happened quickly, building the song took quite a while, just because I wanted to get it right. It needed that power, that rawness, and we really invested in it to bring it out. I produced the original demo before meeting Ryan Hadlock, whose work I had admired for some time, and we started to go back and forth remotely with ideas. Once it clicked, it just worked. I felt more proud of this release than any other song, mostly because of the time and effort put into it as well as the feeling that I had properly represented the story in the lyrics. That is sometimes the hardest part for me to believe.
What has it been like seeing the fan response to the release of The Roads?
It’s been so surreal. I am so grateful for all of my support, on every song I release, but this one felt different. It felt almost like a rebirth, like people were discovering my music again, and like I was bearing my soul and it was being received with open arms. I still can’t believe I get to do this for a job.
What did you enjoy most about filming the music video in the Cotswolds in Southern England?
It was the Cotswolds! Everything! It’s like a completely different world out there – just gorgeous. David (the director) and I had such a good time just exploring and taking it all in.
You have recently announced that you will be going on your first headline tour in October, what are you looking forward to for the shows?
I can’t believe the tour is real either! Every show I’ve played has felt so rewarding because I can see real people with my eyes and watch how the music impacts them. Every show until now has been as a support act, where the audience is not necessarily mine. I can’t wait to experience what it’s like to be the headliner and connect directly with the people that are there to support me.
What can audiences expect from one of your performances and who do you think your music will appeal to?
You can expect some guitar pickin’ and as much raw sound and power as we can muster. I want every show to feel like it’s just me and you in the room. As for who it will appeal to, that’s a tougher question, because I don’t know! But anyone who is a fan of that raw, folky, acoustic sound should check it out. I’m going to do my best to keep making things true to my heart and that will hopefully connect with yours.
How was it supporting Anson Seabra on his The Neverland Tour in Europe, UK and Ireland?
It was such an incredible experience! I’ve been a fan of Anson’s for such a long time, and it’s an amazing feeling to now be able to call him a friend. Experiencing all those new places through a tour was so special, and something I imagine very few people get to do in their lifetime.
In 2022, you were the support act for Maisie Peters’ You Signed Up For This North America Tour, how did you find the experience?
That tour was awesome as well! That was the first time I’d ever played live, actually. To go from playing soccer in college to immediately opening for Maisie Peters was quite the turnaround, and the fans were so warm and accepting of me. I’m so grateful for it all.
Can you tell us about your debut EP georgia got colder, which was released through Arista Records in December, and what was the process of recording the EP like?
georgia got colder was the end of a chapter for me. I learned so much, as a person and a musician, in the year or so leading up to that EP, and getting those songs out was highly therapeutic. It felt like I was closing the door to those emotions. I had the pleasure of recording and writing it with some incredible people, and the process was so much fun. When you can work with people who also appreciate the value and experience of making music, every day is a blast.
What was it like collaborating with Matoma on Summer Feeling in 2021?
That was such a surreal experience. I’ve listened to Matoma since I was 15! In college I even got turned away from a party he was DJing once! To later find out that he was such an incredible human and so much fun to work with was so rewarding, and the song felt very full circle for me.
You’ve released a number of singles previously including 18, hill that i’ll die on and broken, what’s your favourite aspect of writing and releasing your own music?
I’ve always said, if I can impact one person’s life with my music, that’s enough. The thought that my art and my stories can bring someone something that changes their life or helps them in any way is mind-blowing. It makes my life massively fulfilling. I write for them, not for me.
Where does your love of music come from and how did you get into it?
I love playing the guitar and creating beautiful, powerful sounds, but my true love of music is the writing. I’m infatuated by the concept that words can make someone feel something and how words can impact their lives. I love when people can create a deeply emotional experience with words. That’s all I want to do. I originally got into music because of my grandfather, who was a drummer and singer in an amazing jazz/rock band called The Offbeats. He used to show me videos of the band all the time, and I wanted to do it.
What are some of your favourite music artists to listen to and how do you like to spend your free time?
At the moment, I’m listening to a ton of Noah Kahan, Zach Bryan, John Mayer, among others. I like to spend as much of my free time as possible outside, in nature – hiking, running, climbing stuff, trying to find a dog to pet, etc.
Do you have any upcoming release plans that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the rest of 2023 brings for you?
There is so much music on the way, and I hope y’all can catch me live on the road at some point this year. We’re working on going everywhere we can!
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