Jann Klose is one very busy individual. With four full-length albums, including his recently released Mosaic (2013), two EPs, and plenty of concerts and appearances, it can be said that Klose is deeply immersed in his life calling. And if that weren't enough, he's also heavily involved in the development of aspiring musicians and artists.
Over the course of a year, Jann makes room to create workshops in schools to help young artists to learn things that took him considerable personal effort to learn on his own. He has set up classes to teach about performing, rehearsals, and songwriting in various schools throughout the world, including Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts.
Born in Germany but raised in South Africa before a relocation to America, Jann has gained a perspective of the world that not many can lay claim to. With strong songwriting skills, self-taught musical abilities, and a tireless agenda, Jann Klose has achieved a measure of success that has placed him directly on the pathway to stardom — and all by his own hard work.
I caught up with Jann not too long ago and was able to ask a few questions relating to his school efforts, his music, and his nomination for a Grammy.
When did you realize that you should be making albums and singing on stages instead of the long list of mundane careers available to everyone?
Well, I always wanted to be a singer and performer as long as I can remember but it was my Ohio exchange student host family that pushed me into that direction and encouraged me to “give it a go” and see how it goes.
Your music is a blend of poetic lyrics delivered by a brilliant and skilled voice. The engines of all your songs are folk, mixed with good old rock and roll. Did you ever envision a certain style as you grew into your music?
Thank you. I really didn't envision style as such. Just music. I want to create something that pleases both me and my audience. I try to set the bar high and listen to what the song wants to be.
You’ve lived quite a few interesting places, most of all, Ohio. Seriously, Kenya, South Africa, Germany, and the US are all different, culture-wise. Do you find a blend of those cultures making their way into your music as you create?
Yeah, Ohio especially. No, seriously, American music followed me around in all those places but having grown up in Africa I think was my pathway to world and roots music, which I still have a great admiration for to this day.
You have four studio albums to your credit, with your latest album, Mosaic, gaining an incredible amount of interest. It should be mentioned that Mosaic was on first-round ballots for the 2014 Grammy Awards. How do you feel about what Mosaic has done for you in every aspect of its creation?
Well, I’m glad it’s been well-received and that people seem to enjoy listening to it. I hope it continues and that we can build on this momentum with the next one.
I still love the beauty of your 2007 album, Reverie. I’m particularly enthused with “All These Rivers,” “Mother Said, Father Said,” and “Doing Time.” Mosaic itself is an evolution beyond that with playlist-worthy songs like “Falling Tears,” the beautiful “Still”, and the sprightly “Make It Better.” What inspires your songcraft?
Cheers! I think Reverie was just as much a surprise to me as it may have been to you. I really didn't know what I could do until I did it, you know? I play the songs you mention live and they work because they tell a story. Life gives you stories every day, some good, some bad. I think my job as a songwriter and performer is to tell those stories. You never know who’s listening, so I try to be clear and open when doing so.
I understand that you have undertaken teaching sessions to help students interested in music careers to better understand the performance and rehearsal aspects of such a career. As well, you also help them with songwriting. You have done this for Paul McCartney’s school in the UK (The Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts). More recently, you took part in such a session for Greensburg High School in Indiana. What can you tell us about this undertaking?
I love doing workshops! They’re great fun and it makes me feel like the work I have done is worthwhile and can help others. The music business is very tough and it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to keep going. That’s probably the biggest lesson there is.
The company you’re keeping musically is an impressive list. Do you have any favorite things that have happened over the last few years as you have traveled and toured your albums?
Oh, man. So many. Being involved with Greetings from Tim Buckley, going to the Grammys, meeting some of my idols, even playing with them! But most of all, I’m happy that I get to work with great musicians and producers like David Bendeth and James Frazee. I’m excited to put out more music this and next year.
What’s in store for Jann Klose fans in the near future? Are you working on a new album? Do you have plans in the future for anything that would showcase your music that we should know about?
I’m writing a new album and working on going through some live material for a possible live album. I’m also co-writing with quite a few folks including Gary Lucas, Dan Beck, Annie Haslam, Brian O’Neal, Jon Tiven, and the great Larry Beckett.
Your career is being assisted by Anne Leighton, a wonderful person who is as dedicated a person as anyone I know. Personally, I’d say she should be managing many careers, and doing everyone’s PR. What do you have to say about her?
She’s amazing! She works very hard and I trust her. Very important. Like you said, she’s dedicated. There are a lot of people that will “like” you, even “love” you but it takes real commitment and overcoming fear to get involved with an artist. That’s true for us artists, too. We don’t HAVE to work with anyone these days. We can pick and choose just as much as the industry because we have the fans on our side!
Thanks to Jann Klose for the slice of time from his otherwise busy schedule. It's rare to find one as dedicated to his craft, and to helping other artists attempt to navigate the restless waters of the music world.
Currently, Jann Klose has received four nominations in the upcoming 13th Annual Independent Music Awards. His nominations include Cover Song ("Song to the Siren" - Tim Buckley), Website, Swag (Promo T-shirt design featuring lyric from a song off Mosaic), and Album: Spoken Word with Music Accompaniment ("Humble Wish" from Action Moves People compilation CD).