Q: Hi Roger, so lovely to be speaking with you today! “Momentum” is a catchy, old-school yet contemporary, fantastic song! The instrumental is exhilarating and your lyrics are relatable; can you walk me through the writing process on this track?
ROGER JAEGER: Definitely! This song was a different approach than I’ve had before. The producer, Luke Randolph, built much of the track on his own before I sat down to write lyrics and melody. It was a fun but challenging experiment – it went through a couple iterations that I scrapped before I brought Catherine Berry in to help. We essentially landed on telling the story of the beginnings of my relationship with my girlfriend. I like what we ended up with, and it sure was a process! I came in later to record the guitar parts.
Q: I’m curious in what the inspiration behind “Momentum” was. Can you go through the background of this track a bit?
ROGER: A few years back I met a girl while I was on tour. She lived in California and I lived in Tennessee, so we dated long distance for a long time. We’d spend several hours on the phone most nights. It didn’t matter if I was finishing a gig at 1 in the morning, I’d still call her hoping she’d pick up so we could just talk. So the song is essentially describing the early stages of our relationship.
Q: If you could only listen to five albums for the rest of your life (tricky question, I know), which would they be?
ROGER: Jeff Buckley – Grace
Coldplay – Parachutes
Coldplay – Rush of Blood to the Head
Anoushka Shankar – Rise
Jonny Lang – Turn Around
Q: Your sound is what I like to call “easy listening” because it’s the type of music that has something for everyone to enjoy. What’s the creative process like for making this song?
ROGER: It’s always interesting working with other people, because they’ll bring with them creative aspects in that you don’t have. Luke is incredible with chords and rhythms, and so that track shines in those. It made chordal and rhythmic decisions I probably wouldn’t have thought of, and then I got to build guitar lines off of those. It was fun bringing in Catherine too, because she has a very soulful melodic sense about things and sings things in a different way than I would. The chorus exists as it does because of the way she sings. So it really makes it fun. The song sounds like me, but it also has direct influences from these two other people.
Q: I’m always curious in an artist’s musical journey; do you remember who/what first got you into music? Was your family musical growing up, or did you discover it on your own?
ROGER: My first experiences hearing music were sitting in the back of my parents’ cars, and they’d listen to the local oldies station. So I’d hear the Beach Boys, Beatles, CCR, Simon and Garfunkel. Because of this I actually thought that people stopped making music after the 70s. My first exposure to modern music was when my friend, Drew, invited me to go see a Newsboys concert (I think we were in sixth grade). I bought a CD that night, and listened to it nearly every day for the next couple years. It wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to start playing guitar, and so my parents got me one for Christmas. I began writing songs on my own – it was a natural thing to do since I was already writing short stories on my own.
And as far as my parents’ musicality – my mom played some piano by sight-reading and we had a piano at the house, but music was never something she did consistently. I’m not sure my dad has ever even touched a piano, haha. My older brother also played guitar though. He taught me my first few chords. I surpassed him within a few months though.
Q: I know I said your music is “easy-listening,” but in your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
ROGER: I see why you would say “easy-listening” for sure. This has often been a tough question because I know I’m supposed to have a quick definitive answer. Sooo quick answer: I play indie alternative music.
Less-short answer: I play indie/alternative/singer-songwriter music. Sometimes it’s a little more rock, sometimes a little more folky; sometimes I play the sitar in my songs and I’m not really sure what to call that because it’s not quite world music. I like to experiment.
Q: Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a musician?
ROGER: I moved to Nashville for the second time in 2013 with the explicit plan of “trying to make it for real.” I was done hoping that maybe someday something would happen, done waiting for someone to come knock on my apartment door in Tulsa. I knew I had to be in a place where music was being created and released, a place where the industry existed. I’m so glad I went. I learned a lot, grew a lot.
Q: Tell everyone what exciting projects are coming up next for you!
ROGER: I’ve got some songs on the docket that I’d like to record this year. They’re fairly lyric-heavy and lend themselves well to a more folk-style. But I’m leaning into recording a new record, or at least an EP. It’s been a long time since I’ve released a more long-form project.
I’m also writing a record for my friend Lydia Volstad along with another friend, Jonathan Cunningham (XAELO). I’m excited to see what comes of it!
I’m also just coming off playing a set at SXSW, and we played an instrumental I have called “Conversation” that heavily features sitar. I’m now itching to record more songs in that direction as well. TBD!
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
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