It’s the brisk fall morning of Friday, October 21, 2022, and Nolan Jae walks into the studios of KDKA and Star 100.7. He is greeted by Melanie TAYLOR and takes a seat, anticipating both his first on-air interview and single debut. He has no idea what to expect. He hopes it goes smoothly. He hopes Pittsburgh likes his song.
Over the last year, Nolan Jae has truly learned what it takes to “make a musician” and has seen that walking that path is easier said than done. The process not only includes branding, creative hours in the studio, and performing at shows, but also involves publicity and promotion, photoshoots, videography, art direction, and myriad other duties to create even just one song at industry standard. The audience revels in the result, but rarely do they see the work required to make the show a reality.
Creating his contemporary pop rock album has been both an eye-opening experience for Nolan and a crash course in the ins and outs of the music industry – a journey he says he will remember for the rest of his life with lessons he will use as his career continues to take off.
While working on the album, Nolan developed the question that became the central theme for this musical endeavor as well as the title of the album itself: “So What Now?” The majority of the lyrics deal with standing at the crossroads of life after difficult personal experiences: from graduating in a pandemic and the pain of an unexpected breakup to battling chronic migraines and living in darkness and isolation. The album at once feels incredibly personal while speaking to extremely relatable feelings that many of us have shared over the last few tumultuous years.
Releasing independently in Winter 2023, “So What Now?” features fourteen original songs and delivers honest and approachable lyrics that not only relay Nolan’s experience but do so in such a way that everyone can relate. When people listen to Nolan Jae, he wants them to “feel what I felt when I went through all of that, and to come away with the same lesson: to learn to celebrate both their happiness and sadness and accept it all as life.” He wants to make music that people can cry to, but also music they can dance to.
Nolan wasn’t always destined to be in the music industry. While music has been a major part of his life since his childhood, he had plans to become a professional fighter. However, an accident forever changed his path. A concussion diagnosis led to chronic migraines which lasted nearly a year and half. His days of fighting were over. Losing the ability to look at screens during this period, Nolan took to a notepad and pen and began to write. There, in the solitude of a dark basement, Nolan Jae was born.
Taking his lyrics from that notepad to live audiences gave him an even deeper love for the craft. He states that performing has allowed him to see what people enjoy and also how his music impacts his audience. In August 2022, Nolan released his first single and music video “King of the World” at the Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh and says he could see the infectious energy leaving himself and finding a home in the crowd. “One of the most rewarding parts of performing the music live is seeing that reaction when I sing. There is nothing like it in the world.”
As with many new artists, the journey isn’t always easy for Nolan. There is an incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes that can be taxing on even the most seasoned professional musician. But there are moments in which Nolan realizes the magic of “making a musician” – one of which was completing an interview this fall with Bubba and Melanie of Star Pittsburgh. He heard Bubba announce to Pittsburgh, “Here is the world premiere of Nolan Jae’s Emerald Eyes on 100.7 Star!” and then, as if in slow motion, watched Bubba press play. In that moment, Nolan expresses that he finally felt like it just might be worth it all.
Nolan’s album “So What Now?” is set to release in Winter 2023. The music was cooperatively crafted in house by Nolan, working with producers Daniel Blake and Joshua Carns. The first single, “King of the World,” was released last August with a companion video release party at the Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh. The follow-up single “Emerald Eyes” released in October 2022 live on Star 100.7 with an in-house interview with Bubba and has remained in rotation. The “Emerald Eyes” video release party is open to the public on January 6th at Voodoo Brewing Co North Shore in Pittsburgh.
Follow Nolan Jae at nolanjaemusic.com and on Instagram @nolanjaemusic
Nolan Jae music is currently streaming on all music platforms.