The midwest. A dreadful expanse of land that is the scene for most of pop punk music culture. It is the epitome of small town life that cultivates teenagers who are eager to escape. However, in the depths of Michigan there are two groups that take pride in being a part of the midwest (maybe just Michigan). Michigander, a common term used to describe… you guessed it, people from Michigan, and Leland Blue, a band named after the blue stone that appears on Lake Superior’s shores, are keeping the music scene alive in these small towns. They find the cities as homes rather than launching pads they’re waiting to jump from.
Jason Singer, the brains behind Michigander, first came to my attention through a link from my best friend. She told me that this song (Nineties) was on repeat throughout her hike that day, and for the rest of the week she played it with her windows down after school or at night. Soon thereafter, I discovered the brilliance of the song and now identify it as a teenage ballad of sorts. That’s not to say other people won’t connect with the song, but Singer says ‘Nineties’ very much conveys the vibe of “the world sucks” and how a lot of people desire to grow up in a different decade. A decade where things were simpler and the world wasn’t so cruel. The instrumentals of the song are simple and tend to cater directly to the impact of the lyrics.
Singer says he started playing music when he was eleven years old, his first guitar being a Classical Yamaha. This stemmed from his father’s interest in music, and throughout high school, Singer spent most of his time in the band room, perfecting guitar, drums, and piano. Learning one instrument is hard enough, let alone three, especially for the average person. However Singer is not your average person, and music is all he has ever wanted to do since a very young age. All he knows now is self taught, and his passionate independence is clearly reflected in his youthful music and steadfast dedication to his art.
Singer’s first complete collection, Midland, is going public March 16. Singer went on for many minutes, explaining how much effort this EP took to create. He hopes it is something special for someone, in other words, if it reaches out to at least one person, then it is worth all the world to him. He also sees the upcoming project as a gallery of work he is truly proud of in one collective place, something he can point to when trying to explain his job to anyone. It is a culmination of all his hard work and dedication. Midland is supposed to represent the idea that big things can come from small packages, like a musical artist from a small town in Michigan. Singer ended our conversation by saying that “[It] doesn’t matter where you are to do things. Just do them.” Your past nor your living place should define you. You should.
Connecting in a backwards way through being a barista, Singer connected with a younger group of boys from Midland, Michigan as well. Leland Blue is a budding group that blossoms with potential in their genuine lyrics and relentless drive. Singer wants to play a part in helping them while also struggling for his own success. Sculpted around two brothers Ben and Connor Robertson, with the help of their cousin Satchel Robertson and friend, Elliott Miller, Leland Blue describes themselves as ‘Indie Rock’, but say that what sets them apart from other groups is that their listeners should tune in, “if they want to feel youthful and have a positive attitude and outlook”. Their hit song, ‘Sofia’ is a chameleon of a work, as it can be applied to almost everyone’s life. Ben Robertson, one of the two brothers, says that ‘Sofia’ is about that one person we always know, “They’re selfish and toxic. You know that, but you can never truly bring yourself to sever ties.” The song is not a call to action, but rather a safe collection of music that understands this situation that a lot of people find themselves in often. Their other song ‘Cold Comfort’ details this dilemma of who we are as people outside of our cell phones. The song title refers to the bittersweet satisfaction we get from our cell phones. Connor Robertson, the other half of the duo, says that, “I was thinking of people who hide themselves from social situations with their phone”. It is something we all are guilty of doing sometimes, and just like ‘Sofia’, it is a comfort rather than a take up arms song.
Leland Blue is far beyond their set ages in wisdom and artistic abilities, and in 2018, they’re looking to release an EP and possibly go on tour.
Michigander and Leland Blue are just two bands of an underground music scene that seems to be hidden from view. Their music is unique and has solid roots in Midwest, small-town vibes. Both are excellent groups, and are composed of highly respectful and kind gentlemen who are passionate about their art. They want to share it with you, so accept it, Glue readers.