We had the good fortune of connecting with Jake Wesley Rogers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jake, what makes you happy? Why?
I have found that what makes me most happy these days is keeping certain things sacred. What I mean by this is, every day, I try to do a few intentional things that are just for me. I don’t bring my phone, or if I do, I don’t document it. This could be anything–sometimes it’s sitting by a river and watching the sunset. Sometimes it’s going on a walk and walking really, really slow. The reason this feels sacred is being it’s when I commune with myself. I sit at the table of me and feast. More and more, with social media, and as an artist, I’ve found that what people see online is just a caricature, and the real me is someone I don’t even know all too well. The real me likes tea and looking at flowers and laughing and reading books. That feeds my soul. Wendell Berry said, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” I apply this to my self, my being. Even if I’m in the middle of a busy day and things are on fire and hectic, if I can just come to my breath, step outside, feel the sun, I can make the day sacred again. It really is all so subtle. To answer the original question, this makes me happy because it’s when I’m not “doing”, I’m being. And happiness is being. Just being.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My medium is mostly songs and performing, but my source is always truth. Growing up, I always gravitated towards the visual side of art, and today, it almost always inspires the songs. For my past two projects I’ve written, I’ve made mood boards for what I want it to look like, and then the songs come. I have to allow myself a lot of time and space to create. It hasn’t been an easy road, but what I will say is anytime I’ve been 100% authentic in my art, I have been rewarded for it, either in a small or large way. Every meaningful step I’ve made in this crazy career was because I decided to be brave and bold in my art. It’s what feeds me. It still does. I feel like it’s my purpose to see how raw and real I can get, and then capture it as beautifully as possible. And anytime I hit a road block, it was usually because I wasn’t being true. The best lesson I’ve heard about art I’ve heard in a long time is sometimes art is a seed and sometimes it is a beautiful shell. Beautiful shells are sometimes successful for a brief period, a lot of people like them, but they don’t go anywhere. They don’t sprout life. But art that is a seed grows, and blooms, and expands. I think the only way to make sure you’re making seeds instead of shells is to start with your truth. For something to survive the journey from the heart to the page, it has to be absolutely true. Or else it will just be a shell. And I am no longer in the business of empty shells. Just seeds, please.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh, this is fun! We’d start with an early morning walk to a cafe, and stay they for many cups of tea and coffee. Then we’d go back home, do some yoga together, maybe meditate and get ready for the day. After that I’d take them to either an art museum or a gallery, or maybe some beautiful waterfall hike. Then we’d go to my favorite Thai place for lunch, go home, take a nap. For dinner, I’d make a big beautiful meal–maybe a homemade curry or pasta! And if we are in Nashville, we’d go to the Belcourt Theater, an amazing independent theater that shows the best movies. I pretty much just like to eat and see nature and art. If I can do all those things with someone I love, I’m happy.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh, I could shoutout a million people and things! In this moment I’d really love to shoutout my great friend and music director, Mike Miller. Mike and I were set up blindly to write some songs a few years ago, and at the time, I really didn’t feel free to tell my story. I was scared to be myself. I showed up to his house, and he was so honest with me. He was so vulnerable about his story, and even though it’s much different than mine, it opened me up to start telling mine. We wrote a song that day that sent me on a journey of living and creating in my highest truth. Telling the truth has set me free and I know that hearing other people, like Mike, tell their truth, has set me free. Vulnerability is contagious, and is courageous, and it is a healing balm for the soul. So thank you, Mike, for always looking in my eyes and reminding me I am never alone in this being human.
Other: TikTok: @jakewesleyrogers
All images by Se Oh