Meet Gen Z’s Elton John, Singer-songwriter Jake Wesley Rogers

Pictures by Greg Swales. Jacket, pants and bow, costs upon request, Harris Reed. Boots, $1,075, HarryHalim.

The singer-songwriter spent his adolescence rummaging by way of racks of classic clothes and Stevie Nicks information. Now, he performs in four-inch platforms and has earned the title of “Gen Z’s Elton John.”

When Jake Wesley Rogers pops onto my laptop computer display on a gray day in February, I’m immediately blinded by color. And never simply any color — vivid fire-hydrant pink. Between the wall behind him in his L.A. residence and the highest of his head (due to a current hair refresh), the 25-year-old singer is basked in a crimson halo, made extra vibrant by his purple, inexperienced and orange V-neck sweater. The one impartial on this whole pop-art tableau is the black of his thick aviator-style glasses.

Pictures by Greg Swales. Jacket, $4,500, Dior Males. High, $1,085, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Eyewear, $340, Light Monster. Necklace, worth upon request, Lazoschmidl.

Regardless of this vibrant chaos, Rogers is extremely calm. He periodically sips natural tea from an previous mug all through our dialog and takes nice pleasure in speaking about his tea preferences. (He loves an excellent inexperienced or black brew, in case you’re questioning.) Contemplating the theatrical performances and flamboyant style for which he has turn into identified and the truth that he’s getting ready to superstardom, I’m pleasantly stunned by how serene, sage and introspective he’s.

Like every thing else within the Kansas Metropolis-born singer-songwriter’s life, Jake Wesley Rogers didn’t discover fame within the typical means. After a quick stint on America’s Obtained Expertise in 2012 and a string of singles, he caught the attention of hit songwriter Justin Tranter (suppose Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love Me”) and in 2020 was signed to an imprint of Warner Information. Shortly after, Rogers’s rocket ship took off on TikTok, not due to his music however for spilling the tea on “queer icon” Abraham Lincoln, which he filmed whereas carrying a tea infuser as an earring. His historic musings racked up over 1.8 million views, and thru this atypical portal, followers started to find his true expertise for songwriting.

jake wesley rogers
Pictures by Greg Swales. Cloak, $7,060, pants, $1,455, and ring, $485, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Earring, Rogers’s personal.

Since then, Rogers’s pop-rock ballads and campy costumes have earned him the moniker of “Gen Z’s Elton John.” In 2021, John invited Rogers to seem on his Apple Music 1 radio present, Rocket Hour, telling the viewers, “I like Jake as a result of he jogs my memory of me after I was beginning out.” After I point out this second to Rogers, he gleefully grins. “It’s among the finest compliments anybody might ever obtain,” he says.

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Jake Wesley Rogers grew up within the coronary heart of the Bible belt in Springfield, Mo., however he didn’t have a typical conservative small-town expertise. In reality, he says, his upbringing within the Ozarks was full of heat, compassion and acceptance. “My hometown has like 40 church buildings on every block, so, after all, it’s very spiritual, nevertheless it additionally has Midwestern values like love and kindness,” he shares. “I used to be very fortunate to have discovered a secure place the place I used to be free to be myself.”

Pictures by Greg Swales. Jacket, $4,775, and pants, $1,980, Alexander McQueen. Footwear, $1,700, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Eyewear, $355, Light Monster.

The “Center of Love” singer’s popping out was a two-step course of. He informed his mother and father when he was in sixth grade after which his mates at 16. “Again in 2008, my household didn’t know lots about being queer, and we have been all a bit scared, in order that stored me within the closet till I used to be an adolescent,” he displays. Apart from the pure fear that he wouldn’t be accepted by his group, his worry of popping out additionally stemmed from his early viewing of the musical Hire. “I used to be 10 years previous, and it was the primary time I’d ever seen queer individuals,” he shares. “And whereas it was empowering, it was additionally terrifying as a result of I assumed being homosexual meant I used to be going to get HIV and die.”

With the Missouri college system offering little to no training on the topic, it took just a few years earlier than Rogers absolutely understood and embraced his identification. Fortunately, the Jonathan Larson manufacturing didn’t scare him away from musical theatre completely, and he discovered help by way of singing. “In highschool, I used to be generally known as ‘the musician,’ and I felt that due to this, individuals have been OK with me being completely different. Like ‘Jake’s actually good at singing so he will be himself.’”

jake wesley rogers
Pictures by Greg Swales. High, $530, pants, $680, and necklaces, costs upon request, Lazoschmidl. Boots, $1,310, Alexander McQueen.

Being the charming rule breaker that he’s, Rogers pushed the boundaries on how completely different he may very well be by way of style. “What I acknowledge now could be that many individuals really feel they must comply with a script — go to varsity, get married, have infants, and so forth., and if that’s your reality, no shade,” he says. “However I turned these expectations right into a sport. Going to thrift shops allowed me to curate who I used to be and who I wished to be. Being completely different pushed me to be extra completely different, and style has at all times been my superhero cape.” Even now, he jokes that his first query to his supervisor each time he books a gig is “What am I going to put on?” “As quickly as I bought my file deal, I used to be like ‘When do I get a stylist?’” he laughs.

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It’s arduous to explain Jake Wesley Rogers’s type with out referencing pop icons like David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, nevertheless it wasn’t at all times intentional. Whereas he cites Adele and Woman Gaga as his early influences — the Brit for her susceptible lyrics and the American for her theatrical persona — it wasn’t till school that he did a deep dive into precise musical historical past. “Elton John wasn’t a factor in my home rising up, however I acknowledge now that he, Bowie and Madonna clearly influenced Gaga,” he says. “I bought loads of that inspiration inadvertently by way of her.” Rogers additionally admits that he has at all times had a love affair with the ’70s — therefore his choice for carrying four-inch platforms, which make him a whopping six toes eight inches. “My primary style and every thing icon has at all times been Stevie Nicks,” he says. “So on the finish of the day, I’m simply making an attempt to be as cool as her.”

model with red hair and graphic liner
Pictures by Greg Swales. Jacket, $4,300, and high, $1,400, Gucci. Necklace, $18,300, Tiffany & Co. Earring, Rogers’s personal.

Identical to Nicks’s aesthetic, Rogers’s can’t be categorized with a single adjective. In his music video for “Weddings and Funerals,” Rogers rocks a pair of female Nineteen Fifties cat-eye glasses, outsized floral earrings and a bloodstained white tuxedo. Then for his newest music, “Darkish Fowl,” he took to Instagram to point out off a patent-leather lace-up corset paired with punk equipment and graphic eyeliner. However he admits that is intentional. “Every music has a unique power, so style helps me embody what I’m singing.”

What Rogers chooses to sing about is uncooked feelings like ache, love and self-acceptance. A grasp of storytelling, he makes use of poetic symbolism in “Darkish Fowl” to discover themes of resilience, freedom and “metaphorically burning your life right down to make one thing higher.” Speaking about his course of, the singer relates his 11-year-old songwriting experiments to the world of Harry Potter, the place younger wizards unintentionally carry out magic earlier than they’re conscious of their powers. Over a decade later, Rogers (like Harry) has realized to harness his expertise and discover these magical moments. “I write loads of songs, however most of them by no means see the sunshine of day,” he notes. “The songs I find yourself releasing are those wherein I really feel like I’ve transcended myself and I’m carrying a message that’s larger than me.”

@jakewesleyrogers Pre-save 🔗 in profile, infants!!!! #fy #originalmusic #witchtokrising ♬ Darkish Fowl – Jake Wesley Rogers

However what Rogers is de facto chasing together with his music is the component of shock. “It’s my favorite emotion as a result of it takes a lot to really feel stunned nowadays,” he shares. He reads my thoughts when he references the Latin proverb “Fortune favours the daring.” “There’s no time left to not make one thing daring,” he says. “If one thing doesn’t lower by way of the muddle and shock you, I don’t see the purpose. That’s not me or my music.”

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And therein lies the reality about Jake Wesley Rogers. As we nearly sit collectively considering life, TikTok and dancing in platform heels, someplace alongside the best way, my eyes alter (metaphorically and actually) to the calm fire-hydrant-red determine earlier than me, and now I can’t think about him being some other means. He’s candid and a bit kooky, and identical to with tea, the longer we’re collectively, the extra flavourful he will get.

“I don’t settle for myself on a regular basis, however I’m within the enterprise of loving myself,” he reveals, pausing to sip from his mug. “It’s arduous, and it takes apply, however by way of my music, I remind myself that I’m worthy of it.”

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Pictures by Greg Swales. Jacket, $9,065, and pants, $2,265, Alexander McQueen. Necklaces, from $485, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.