When asked where they're from, most Michiganders will geographically round up. St. Clair Shores becomes Detroit, Okemos is closest to Lansing, and Kentwood is basically Grand Rapids. When 25-year-old singer-songwriter Jason Singer is asked, however, he'll tell you that he is from Michigan — plain and simple.
"I was born in Grand Rapids, moved to Saginaw, and lived in Kalamazoo for a year," Singer explains. "I live in Midland but the whole state is home to me. Every place I go there's a place for me to stay, most of my friends live far away. That's home."
Singer — who is gearing up to release Midland, his first EP under his moniker Michigander, on March 16 — has managed to float on the success of a handful of singles over the past two years. 2016's nostalgia-heavy "Nineties" garnered college radio popularity which led to a bucket-list conquering year in 2017. From Audiotree and Daytrotter sessions to a sold-out show in Chicago, a packed house in New York, and a stint at last year's Mo Pop Festival alongside national acts like Solange, Alt-J, and Foster the People, small-town Singer is recalibrating his goals for 2018 — and they're big.
"Taking these songs from my bedroom and my van that I recorded on a voice memo and performing to an audience of 2,200 people was wild," Singer says of his Mo Pop performance. "Obviously there's always a want for more, but this year," he says, "I don't want to be a local band, I want to become everyone's next favorite band."
Citing Coldplay as a favorite band and identifying as a Christian might not be the hippest things to admit when trying to break into the indie music market. But Singer is comfortable with both. Though one may be able to pick up hints of Coldplay's signature swell and release on Midland, Singer's Christianity is not as discernible.
"I think my faith translates into what I do musically in that I'm always trying to be better," he says. "I guess I don't really think about it. It's just a part of me." As for being in a Christian rock band? He laughs. "No, thanks."
Though Michigander's singles have maintained a distinct and unified sound, Midland is a different kind of familiar. The EP serves as an opportunity for Singer to flex his storytelling skills and is a test of his vocal elasticity, which sounds eerily like Australia's favorite troubadour Vance Joy and not the least bit Midwestern. High-energy and polished, the six-track debut is laden with declarative hooks that call to mind early Death Cab for Cutie and swells with a formulaic precision that is designed with the radio in mind.
"I don't think the music I'm making is groundbreaking by any means," Singer admits. "I've been making this type of music for a long time. But for a while it was outdated and now it's become cool again. For me, it's unintentional. It's the only music I know how to make. Midland is just honest. The music is special, but I'm not special."
Michigander's EP release show will take place at the Magic Stick on Saturday, March 24 at 7 p.m.; 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; majesticdetroit.com; Tickets are $12-$15.