If you’ve ever heard of the term “future crooner” and thought you knew what it meant—you were wrong. However, one listen to the vocals of Jake Nawas of synth-rock trio NAWAS, and you might just get an inkling of what it could mean. You might also think he has some sort of effect on his androgynous vocals, but we’ve heard through the grapevine…that’s just how he sings.
NAWAS’ debut EP, Trouble, was released earlier this year and has been described as somewhere between Prince and Calvin Harris crossed with the ultimate soundtrack for “baby-making.” The sweetly seductive vocals of “Wrong,” in which Jake Nawas begs you to tell him what he did wrong, will lead you you fabricate wrongdoing in order to garner his attention.
The trio takes an instinct-driven approach to pop — that is, if you want to call it “pop.” As music takes a somewhat generic and predictable turn into its “drop-heavy” and EDM leaning trends, NAWAS instead leans in another direction completely. If you didn’t have a chance to check them out on their most recent tour alongside Max Frost, you’ll want mark your calendars for the next time these guys go out — as their sound is undeniably game-changing for the future of pop.
The sent a heartfelt message to fans,
Thank you again to every individual who made their way to a show this fall. 6 weeks down and it was fun the whole damn time. Have a fantastic holiday season and keep your head up for when we swing back through your city.
Relive the trio’s tour with their photo tour diary below, followed by a Q&A with frontman Jake.
First tour of our lives! What a thrill! This was in Chicago at Lincoln Hall. The staff and crowd there were amazing!
First Avenue in Minneapolis was one of the most meaningful shows to me. To play the venue where they shot “Purple Rain” was almost too much! Couldn’t have asked for a better night.
Ben getting some nice stretching done before the soundcheck. Joey working diligently in the background.
My favorite shirt I️ got at the venue in NYC. Also a beautiful men’s bathroom.
Brooklyn turned out to be a very special night. The entire run up the East Coast just kept getting better and then we hit Rough Trade, and it was like the icing on top. The crowd was so interactive and good to us; thank you to anyone who was there!
Smashing down some food pre-show in Minneapolis with Ben (guitar), Joey (drums) and our tour manager Gibby!
Sammy from Kansas City! Good doggie.
This tour was about coffee. Only coffee.
Warming up in Salt Lake City before the show at Kilby Court.
Our bad ass tour manager Gibby! He’s going to kill me for posting this. He’s the man. Most responsible guy on the road.
Can’t wait to do it all over again.
OTW: Do you ever sing any cover songs? If you were to cover songs, which ones would you pick?
Jake Nawas: Yes! We cover Ben Harper’s “The Woman in You” sometimes acoustically. It’s a beautiful song that I love to sing. The lyrics are gut-wrenching in a good way… "How I hate to remember for that means the day is past.“
OTW: When you perform live, what do you hope fans will take away from your performances?
Jake Nawas: I hope that when fans see us live, they will look on stage and be able to see the fun we are having, and I would hope they join in! One of the best things I hear after shows is people saying they appreciate our passion performing the set. There are a lot of things that could go wrong or are out of our control, but the energy is not one of them — our job is to bring it the same way every night no matter the outside situation.
OTW: How do you feel about the comparison to Prince, being that he is a legend? Does that make you feel any pressure for future releases?
Jake Nawas: I wouldn’t compare myself or my band to Prince, but I think it’s obvious how much he influences my artistry and songwriting. Throw the rules out and see how it FEELS. I love Prince so much and miss him all the time — there will never be another and there probably won’t be any one to come close.
OTW: Your releases “Wrong” and “So Low” both got rave reviews — what were some of the thoughts going on in your mind when you heard reactions?
Jake Nawas: “Wrong” is a very important song to me — I wrote it after having some "come to Jesus” talks with my mom and sister during a period when I wasn’t acting right. The verses are all about people I love telling me hard truths that they don’t want to say and I don’t want to hear. When I see people sing the words to that song, it makes me feel community. We all go through those shit times, maybe it would help to go through them together and talk honestly about how we feel during those times. It helps me to search and find the real issue, not just treat the symptoms.
OTW: Tell us a secret about the production/writing process of Trouble.
Jake Nawas: Before the turn-in date I was nervous about “Running!” I don’t know why and apparently it wasn’t a very good reason because it has turned into my favorite song off the EP to do live. Ruby Amanfu (the featured artist and songwriter) is an amazing, amazing talent and person. I’m so glad she decided to let NAWAS cut the song. It seems to get a huge reaction live! Working with all of our additional collaborators was just as incredible of an experience — I feel really lucky to do this for a job and be in the presence of such genuinely great humans.