You Make Art, Art Makes You.
By Guru Ramanathan.
It is not every day that a college freshman inks a songwriting deal with Sony/ATV, especially one with such a distinct voice, style, and approach to music as singer/songwriter Jake Wesley Rogers. The young musician is a trailblazer, having been compared to the likes of Sam Smith and James Blake, and is well known for his 2017 “Evergreen” EP.
Rogers found his passion for music at a very young age. He was only five or six when he asked for his first guitar and would often put on “shows” in his living room for his family. Rogers loves the accessibility of music and music production in the digital age. Growing up in the Mid-West, he would experiment with recording on his laptop and post his music online for his friends to listen to. Being gay he has had many religious elements wrap themselves around his identity. Yet he never felt too oppressed because of the great support from family and friends.
“There are some things that you notice as a queer person when you’re in a place where the majority doesn’t accept you. I learned how to blend in for safety, but I also developed a craving to stand out,” related Rogers.
He allows art to be as personal as it can be when creating music. Rogers is currently hard at work on new songs, exploring much more of himself now than before. Music is an outlet for Rogers to experience things he previously had not “given the time of day to think or write about.” It is better late than never to confront some of these feelings since they are intertwined with the work itself. Art is as personal for the creator as it can be universal for audiences.
“Creativity is so vulnerable. Even when art is more light-hearted, it has to come from a deeper place. And honestly, there is no separating the art from the artist. There’s too much good shit in the world coming from good people to even focus our energy on terrible people making art. It’s impossible to separate and it’s often dangerous when we do.”
A major creative breakthrough for Rogers has really been how far he has come in figuring out who he is, especially over the past year and a half. He has taken up meditation, therapy and has developed new spiritual practices to dig deeper into himself.
Rogers was a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville when he acquired the opportunity to put on a showcase for the Sony/ATV team. Shortly afterwards he signed on with the latter, describing the moment as “too good to be true, but it was true and [he’s] still so thankful.” Had he not decided to be musician, Rogers admits he would most likely be a teacher at a university teaching an English class about Oscar Wilde.
Right now, his favorite album of 2018 is “By the Way, I Forgive You” by folk rock and Americana singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. Carlile’s music is said to have been very influential on Rogers’ upcoming work, but the artist also listed Christine and The Queens, Kacey Musgraves and First Aid Kit as some of his favorite artists right now.
“Even though [Christine and the Queens’] is so far from the music I make, she’s just such a true artist and it reminds me that I have no obligation to be anyone but myself.”
The singer/songwriter remains ambitious for the future. He would love to play bigger shows and eventually have a larger reach with his music, and especially have a lasting impact on people and the queer community. In the current moment he is looking to release a new project that he is immensely proud of. Rogers’ story serves as a reminder for a strong principle within art: what an artist creates can lead to new discoveries within themselves, which then affects their own art and leads to greater self-discoveries. Art is a never ending cycle of putting the individual into the work, and the work revealing more of the individual in the process.