Jann Klose back in SA for his In Tandem Tour.
by David Simmons
If you haven’t heard the name Jann Klose before or been privy to his music for that matter, you may want to do some research! This award-winning pop singer and song writer has just launched his new Album In Tandem and together with an eclectic arrangement of tracks, Jann’s strong message shines effortlessly through his song-making. I had the change to sit down with Jann to discuss his appreciation for the arts, his influences and his love for Africa, in anticipation to his tour across SA this month.
No stranger to Southern Africa, Klose grew up in various destinations around the world. He was in fact raised in Kenya and Germany and subsequently The United States became his permanent home. Although his upbringing is a distant memory, he remembers East Africa rather fondly, the beauty of nature and off course the music which made a huge impact in his life. Some of the first live performances he witnessed as a child were African street performers, singers and dancers. The fascination of dancing combined with the rhythm of ethic influence, has travelled with him throughout his life and created a wonderful cornerstone for his general love for music. Jann remembers music entering his life at a very young age. He describes music as being a ‘healer’ which has gotten him through some of the hardest times in his life.
Klose’ love for the arts and musical theatre also started at a young age. While studying voice in Cleveland, Ohio, he sang with several local ensembles including the Cleveland Opera Chorus. His fascination and hunger for live theatre was evident and he used his singing abilities and talent to break into the performing arts in New York. Young artists will do everything and anything in their ability to reach their dreams and Jann remembers the struggle of all the auditions he had to endure, sometimes as many as 3 to 4 a day. Jann was cast in The Who’s Tommy after a couple of months of ‘hitting the pavement hard’ and loved the experience. He then travelled with the Broadway national tour of Jekyll & Hyde and the Jesus Christ Superstar European tour and learned a great deal about life on the road and performing every night, at times 9 shows a week.
Creating music can be one of the most rewarding pastimes an artist can undertake however it’s very interesting to witness the evolution of a singer and where their inspiration derives from. In Jann’s case he had many musical inspirations. One artist that paved the way for him was Prince. “His artistic persona and skills were just off the hook and really inspired me to go into music” Jann reflects affectionately. There is no doubt that hard work and determination can bridge the gap between success and failure and Jann has created a name for himself in the music industry by persevering and honing in on his musical talents.
Jann reflects on one of his favourite Shakti Gawain quotes that has centred him in times of difficulty and disorder. “Imagine what you want in life, then say out loud: this or something better now manifests for me, in the most satisfying and harmonious ways and for the highest good of all concerned.” He has been using this inspiring quote for years which has helped him on his musical journey of purpose and persistence.
Being an ambassador for Desmond Tutu’s Tutudesk campaign, Klose has a very strong bond with South Africa. “I love coming here for the people, the music, the food and off course the nature… It’s just a really beautiful spot on this planet.” He has worked with many names in the South African music industry such as Karen Zoid and Tamara Dey, who have been outstanding collaborators and add a soothing local touch to his already diverse mix of compositions.
After nearly a year of working on his 6th Album, In Tandem, this reflecting journey of work has flourished into an album of 13 incredibly diverse tracks. “I wanted to create a collaborative album and draw in all the different writers and artists I had met over the years touring in the US, Canada, Europe and Africa. It was a massive undertaking but I had a ton of support from my colleagues and friends. Music Exchange, BMI London, Academy of Sound Engineering and producer RJ Benjamin were instrumental in turning this into a reality” he tells.
Jann’s music has a certain calmness to it. It is as if he is speaking directly to his audience and telling a story along the way. He relates to this sentiment full-heartedly. Says Jann: “That’s why I do it, to tell stories and connect. It’s one of the great power’s music has to offer.” Klose has a wonderful knack with relationship building in his songs and this can have a huge impact on how a musical story is exposed to an audience. “It’s really about creating a connection and a story. You never know to what extent it will connect but when it does, it’s magical!”
As all performers know the life of a touring artist can be gruelling and especially with early calls and late-night performances it is important to find your balance. Jann finds his balance by being outdoors which can focus even the most jumbled of minds! “Running helps… When I’m too tired or don’t have time, I walk and try to surround myself with nature and get away from noise.”
A number of stand our collaborative tracks from his new album are Love High and Take me 2 Forever. Love High has the perfect setting. The music video takes the viewer on a trip through the streets of Brooklyn evoking the true sense of an American love story. “I really have attribute this to the director Klaudyna Astramovicz and DP Wyatt Ward… It was their vision! New York and especially the Williamsburg neighbourhood in Brooklyn just has this built in raw energy that we all felt would serve the vibe of the song the best” he explains. Take me 2 Forever, Jann’s second stand out track, has a wonderful electric feel with acoustics that have a slight African ring to it. “RJ Benjamin who co-wrote and produced the track pushed myself and co-writer #3 James Stewart into that direction and it stuck!”
With a 12-month journey of working on In Tandem, Jann has combined his love of music and a reflection on his own personal echoes into a wonderfully thoughtful album. Exploring themes of love and the ways of the heart, the album’s meaning holds true to its title. In essence In Tandem is a partnership, a collective contribution and togetherness of friends, relationships and a brilliant musical voyage.
In Tandem is out now on digital and CD. Download or stream Jann Klose’s brand-new album ‘In Tandem’ now.