The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Q&A | Jonah Kagen continues his ‘Save My Soul’ tour in IC

Georgia-based folk star Jonah Kagen will perform at Gabe’s on April 13.
Photo contributed by Jon Vulpine

Jonah Kagen, a singer and songwriter from Savannah, Georgia, will perform at Gabe’s on April 13. Currently, the artist is performing across America on his “Save My Soul” tour. His debut EP “georgia got colder” was released in 2022. Since then the 23-year-old has garnered over 140 million streams across music platforms.

The Daily Iowan: How did you start playing music?

Jonah Kagen: My grandfather got me into it. He was in a semi-successful rock jazz group back in his time. It was the first band for a guitarist called Danny Gatton who was an awesome, awesome guitarist, and my grandfather got to play with him when he was young, so he used to show me a bunch of videos of Danny. I just thought it was so cool. Then I started taking lessons when I was like six or seven.

What was it like getting discovered?

My life turned around really quickly because I was playing soccer in college. I had been playing soccer my whole life, and then the pandemic hit, and our season was canceled. So that was when I started posting stuff [on TikTok]. and whatnot. That was when everything started happening, and when the attention started coming in, and that was so weird. I remember being in class when we booked the first tour, and I was like, ‘I told you that I have no idea how to perform,’ like I didn’t know any of that.

You currently have over 1 million Spotify listeners. What has it been like reaching that level of success?

It’s so bizarre, to be honest. I don’t feel any different than I did three years ago, four years ago … It’s easy to get lost in the numbers also, you know, so I see a song doing really well and it’s got like a million streams. Think about what a million streams is. It’s a lot of streams, but I became kind of desensitized to that for a while, so I think going on tour is one of those things that puts it into perspective.

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How would you describe your sound?

I have so much trouble explaining it. I have trouble just talking about what I do in the first place. I don’t even tell people I’m a musician, I just say that I’m like a struggling guitarist. That’s usually what I say, but I would say it is more organic sounding, a little bit folky, and right on the border of country, especially the new album that’s coming up. But yeah, that’s that’s probably what I would say. My answer to that changes all the time. I usually say that or just bad-sounding music.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

I’ve been on a deep Kacey Musgraves kick lately, I’ve been really into that, and then Zack Bryan as well. I love the way that Zack Bryan talks, but I’ve also in the last year, been really, really influenced by these people who are such gifted writers before anything else, and then the music is just the whole package. I just think it’s so cool. Ryan Beatty is unbelievable, and Osiris Alto, and just everybody in that sort of world. It’s so inspiring.

What do you want people in Iowa City to know about you and your performance coming up?

I feel like this is like a meet-cute with the Iowa City people. This is the first time we’re both meeting each other. I want it to be nice. I want it to be like a very personal show, so I think that like getting to meet as many people as possible … I just want it to be a very good, wholesome concert.

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About the Contributor
Sophia Connolly
Sophia Connolly is a first-year honors student studying journalism and mass communications. She is interested in politics, community events and exploring unique perspectives. After college, she plans to go to law school or graduate school.