Jonah Kagen Drops Exhilarating New Single ‘The Roads’ While Announcing North American Tour

With a title like “The Roads,” Jonah Kagen’s folk-inflected latest single feels timely and prescient. The track drops as the singer-songwriter wraps up his European tour, during which Jonah Kagen shared the bill with Anson Seabra, and looks toward a series of North American dates later this year.

Jonah Kagen grew up in Georgia, where he started studying guitar at age six. Beyond the instrument’s songwriting capabilities, Jonah Kagen dove into its technical aspects, influenced by both jazz playing and the five-finger techniques of Andy McKee. 

Jonah Kagen’s career has picked up steam over the past year. His debut EP, Georgia got colder, dropped in December 2022 on Arista Records, and he’s since amassed over 200 million global streams and 2 million Spotify monthly listeners. “The Roads” was in the works for quite some time and features some of his favorite lyrics to date, with the topic meant to reflect the human experience. Its video was shot in The Cotswolds in Southern England, with creative direction from David Od, who previously worked with Kagen on “18.”

Primarily performing as an opening act up to this point, including on a U.S. tour for Maisie Peters, The Roads Tour sees Jonah Kagen headlining once it kicks off in October.

Nostalgia is a significant influence on “The Roads.” What was Jonah Kagen’s vision for this track?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that nostalgia is a significant influence on the song. There are plenty of things from the past that I feel deeply nostalgic about, but the main inspiration for “The Roads” is the present realization that something from my past continues to affect every aspect of my life today.

My vision was not to represent any sort of longing for the past, but rather the agony and heartbreak of an emotional cycle that is impossible to escape as a result of one decision to let one person in.

How did you end up working with Ryan Hadlock, and what was your process for producing “The Roads”?

I was so excited to get to work with Ryan on this song. I originally wrote “The Roads” on my own with just an acoustic guitar, but I knew in my head exactly what I wanted the production to do. I produced the original demo with a few layers of acoustic guitars, a bass, some drones, and vocals, but I felt that I wanted to give it a rawness and power that I had never done before.

I am a huge fan of Zach Bryan, and Ryan produced “Something in the Orange,” which had that exact raw, powerful sound I was looking for. My team sent Ryan the song, and he loved it, and we started the process of virtual collaboration. Over a couple of weeks, we went back and forth over the phone, exchanging ideas and getting it just right. Ryan really brought the song to life, and I can’t wait to work more with him.

“The Roads” also has some of your favorite lyrics. What’s different about the lyrics on this track?

I think the best lyrics are the ones that can find the balance between poetic language and the exact thing you’re trying to say. It’s not an easy thing to do – sometimes, too many metaphors and such can cloud the story, and sometimes there’s a better way to say something than what first comes to mind. Sometimes there’s not! I think the lyrics in this song find that balance for me.

For the accompanying music video, why did you decide to film in Southern England?

I’ve always loved being outside in nature and visiting the English countryside has been a dream for me. I was actually planning to go out there and write some music before we even started talking about the music video, and when we realized that the timing might work out, we did everything possible to make it happen. It was the perfect landscape for the song, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

You just wrapped up a European tour with Anson Seabra. Tell us about your experience.

The tour with Anson was an incredible experience. His fans are so lovely and kind, and they welcomed me with open arms each night. It was so surreal to have people listening to me play and even singing lyrics back to me in places of the world that were so far away from where I wrote the songs. Aside from that, it was so much fun to be in Europe with an amazing group of people, including my dad, and Anson, who I consider to be a great friend of mine.

You started playing guitar at the age of six. How does your technical background shape you today as a songwriter?

I think my technical background is really the foundation on which I’m able to try things as a songwriter. I start almost every song idea as a melody on my guitar, and I never have to think in a way that is tedious while I’m writing. I can just feel it. And if I hear something in my head, I know I’ll find a way to play it. I think I’m really lucky to be able to do that and just have fun with the music, but I also worked so hard to get to that point.

Jonah Kagen’s music has over 200 million global streams. How does this feel for you as an artist?

It’s absolutely mind-blowing, honestly. I had to take a second to let that sink in when I first read it. If you were to tell me that at age six when I first picked up my guitar, I would have called you insane. I’m so lucky to get to do what I do, and I couldn’t ever properly express how grateful I am that there are people who want to listen.

What plans do you have for the rest of 2023, be it new music or touring?

Lots of new music coming your way, and tour plans are in the works. I can’t wait to see you all this year and share everything I’ve been working on!

Writer

Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.

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