Indie pop phenom Jake Wesley Rogers has officially signed to Facet Records in partnership with Warner Records. To celebrate his new musical home, Rogers debuted his new single “Middle of Love” on Thursday (May 6).
Originally from Springfield, Mo., Rogers learned to play guitar at age 6, began training in piano and classical voice at age 12, and was constantly supported by his parents. With his mother working in radio, Rogers attended concerts of his soon-to-be-idols such as Lady Gaga and Nelly Furtado from an early age, when he began to plant the seeds of his own songwriting career.
But it wasn’t until 2019 that Rogers caught the attention of Justin Tranter, pop super-songwriter and Facet Records’ founder and CEO. The singer’s manager Lucas Canzona sent a cold email to Tranter with a live rendition of Rogers’ powerful 2019 single “Jacob From the Bible,” asking them to take a look at an up-and-coming LGBTQ artist. As Rogers tells it, Tranter was immediately interested.
“All of a sudden I got a DM from Justin on Instagram saying that they had heard my music and loved it and I almost passed out,” he recalls. “I saw Justin and their band open for Lady Gaga when I was 12, so it feels so full circle to have signed with them and Warner Records now. It’s a dream team for me, really. I feel like I am making the music I was born to make.”
Tranter confirms that they were instantly hooked on the singer’s sound, specifically considering his unapologetic presence on stage. “I truly lost my mind. I watched it like 12 times in a row at midnight just sobbing,” Tranter says of the video. “Jake was everything I wish my 20-year-old self had the societal safety to be. I thought if I don’t do everything in my power to make this queer-icon-in-the-making the mainstream superstar he deserves to be, then I should be kicked off the GLAAD board and go hide in a corner.”
Aaron Bay-Schuck, the CEO and co-chairman of Warner Records, tells Billboard that Tranter immediately brought Rogers to his attention after seeing his live video. After a few meetings, some songwriting sessions and a showcase in L.A., Bay-Schuck and Tranter officially made their offer, and Rogers signed in late 2020.
“Justin called me one day telling me I had to come to their home and hear the most remarkable artist. Sending music wouldn’t do it justice, they said, I had to see him live. Justin was right,” Bay-Schuck says. “It ended up as one of the most memorable showcases I have seen in my career. For the entire 30 minutes, I was captivated. Jake was confident and let his songwriting and vocal ability do all the talking. I felt like I was staring at this generation’s Elton John. He had his vision, his songs, and his presentation all figured out from day one.”
When it came time for Rogers to pick his debut single, he says he knew he wanted to show off an up-tempo pop number, but also wanted to make sure it was imbued with meaning. That’s how he knows “Middle of Love” (which he co-wrote alongside Tranter and their longtime collaborator Eren Cannata) was the correct choice — a piano-driven, thriving pop single about the destructive nature of love, the song felt like the right way to re-introduce himself to the world.
“[‘Middle of Love’] symbolizes the central idea of all my new music: Love has the capability to hurt or heal,” he tells Billboard. “When I sat down to write this song with Justin Tranter and Eren Cannata, I was wounded in my own relationship, I was witness to my grandpa dying because his wife died, and I was learning about all my LGBTQ+ heroes who were mostly killed or exiled. ‘Middle of Love’ feels like my first steps into my own reclamation of love.”
Check out Roger’s stunning music video for “Middle of Love” below: