Milky caught up with Jason Nolan the day after the release of his debut EP ‘Wonder Years’ to raise a glass and also dig a bit deeper into the man behind the music.
We arranged to rendezvous at a bar in Clapham mid-week, initially unaware of the significance of this date. Jason walks through the door grinning from ear to ear and explains that he had just finalised the final details of his EP release with his lawyers. Considering that the EP was finished well over a year ago and has only just now been released, this moment has been a long time in the waiting for Jason. Admitting that he had no real plans to celebrate, we decided to at least have a few drinks for the occasion.
The London-based musician is responsible for writing, producing and singing all of his own material, recording the entirety of ‘Wonder Years’ in his bedroom. Jason describes his music in terms of textures: layers and layers of instruments and vocals laid over the top of each other to form a musical backdrop. These textures provide the basis of his electronic and soulful sound: a floating and dreamy style that evokes a daydream-like state in its listeners.
Jason is a fresh face on the scene at the ripe age of 22, but he is making bold moves releasing the 6-track EP through the coveted Majestic Casual label. A relationship that was sparked by Jason’s intuitive idea to grab the label’s attention by sending a cover of The Editors’ song ‘Munich’ – something he correctly thought would align with their values & aesthetic.
The record’s title ‘Wonder Years’ is a reference to Jason’s constant state of wondering what he’s going to do, when pushed a little further Jason toys with the idea that the record is “like my relationship with escapism over the course of my life”. He playfully shrugs off this remark as lame, but when explained it makes perfect sense. There is a narrative that unfolds throughout the EP reflecting this notion of escapism: from the fantastical playground setting of the first track through to ‘The Seer’, where the lyrics express a desire to simply get away.
Talking to us about his introduction to music and songwriting, Jason pinpoints an exact time when he was 10 years old on the playground with his two best friends, making up silly one or two line songs and it feeling like they were on Top of the Pops. Fast forward to now and Jason is a patient and thoughtful songwriter. On average he creates just a handful of carefully considered songs per year, his EP being no exception to the rule with nearly two years in the making. These songs are subject to a process of continual experiment and refinement before becoming the polished pieces that reach our ears. This unhurried approach hints at the quest for perfection behind each piece of work Jason touches.
When talking about the process behind his songwriting, Jason explains that he is constantly writing and producing music wherever he goes. However, from the hundreds of musical sketches that he creates, only a couple will be developed into full tracks. The decision of what songs make the cut stems from his instinctive attitude that “If a song doesn’t feel right, then I will just move on to something else”.
Looking ahead, Jason plans to get his head down and spend some time recording more material in a studio for the first time. Something that is particularly exciting for him, as he confesses everything that has released so far has been a product of bedroom recording– not that you would easily guess this. Who knows what Jason will have in store for us next with an entire studio at his disposal, but whatever it is we are eager for more.
Check him out on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes or Youtube.
Words by Angus Forrester
Photography by Tasha Fischer