The West Michigan artist appeared on this week’s Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by May Erlewine, Singing Lungs, John D. Lamb, Cody Robert DeWindt and more.
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As West Michigan singer and tunesmith Rob Jordan puts it, struggling with writer’s block “can be depressing as hell.”
“It’s hard to shake because you go further and further into self-doubt if you let yourself,” the Byron Center-based artist conceded.
“You just need to keep writing and then ‘bingo,’ a song writes itself and that helps you get going. That’s a glorious place to be as a songwriter. It’s like a drug.”
Pushing through all of that – along with interminable delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – eventually led to Jordan’s release this month of the appropriately titled solo EP, “Strange Days,” which he considers a milestone in his music career.
The songs emerged after the death of his mother and birth of his son, Miles.
“I was ready to hang up the cleats and put music on the shelf, burned out maybe,” said Jordan, who was part of past West Michigan band projects Bello Spark, Simien the Whale and The Grey Line.
“After my son was born, I found new inspiration to keep writing and wanted to make the record I’ve always wanted to make. I wanted to do everything different and do it right – make something that was 100 percent me and something my son would be proud of honestly.”
He added: “Big thing for me this time around was that I was writing for myself and no else. … It was therapy coming out of some difficult times with my mother passing away and my son being born nine days after. That was crazy, and writing helped.”
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Jordan showcased the tracks “Don’t Forget About the Sun” and “Fire.” Scroll down to listen to the songs, the interview and the full radio show podcast; check out the EP’s title track here.
LISTEN: Rob Jordan, “Strange Days”
Pairing up with pal and producer Paul Wesselink to winnow and hone tunes for the project recorded in August 2022 with Josh Kaufman at Grand Rapids’ Local Legend Recording, Jordan said they “nerded out” on music that oozes “atmospheric color” while remaining focused on the power of the songs and their lyrics.
“I’m a huge fan of that instrumental, ambient stuff,” added Jordan, who cites the likes of Wilco, The National, Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, Phish and Pink Floyd among his favorite musical inspirations.
Aiming to create a “cool, soothing environment” with the five-song EP, he called on guitarist and former bandmate Tory Peterson to join him in the studio, along with Wesselink, Michael Robertson, Drew VanderVeen, Christian VanAntwerpen, Mike Kopchick and Steve Huizenga.
While he doesn’t have any performances lined up as of yet, Jordan — business integration manager for Diverzify — plans to stage an EP-release show this spring after allowing “these tunes to float around for a bit and hopefully catch some ears” before assembling a band to play out.
Ultimately, Jordan said, he’s less concerned these days about the response he gets to songs that he creates.
“Music is therapy to me,” he said. “I wasn’t writing for a band to be successful or to be cool. It was just the music, and I fell back in love with it at its core like I did back in middle school. I think that’s reflected in ‘Strange Days.’ ”
This week’s episode of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured music by May Erlewine, Singing Lungs, Cameron Blake (this week’s musician’s pick by Jordan), Cody Robert DeWindt, Melissa Dylan, Pink Sky, The B-Sides, Turtledoves, Rust Ring and John D. Lamb. Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (2/17/23)
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