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Rising Music Star Nolan Jae On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry

An Interview With Ming Zhao

As a part of our interview series with leaders, stars, and rising stars in the music industry, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nolan Jae.

Nolan Jae is a rising contemporary pop rock artist who fell for music at the early age of 3. He began seriously pursuing voice lessons at Seton Hill at age 15 when his family and classmates noticed his talent with vocals. Poetry became therapeutic while in middle school and as he grew his talent in writing, he wrote and recorded his first official song, Title Wave, in just 8th grade. Among his favored songs are Ripped Jeans and Hollywood Signs showing his music style as a heartfelt pop genre that captures young audiences. Most artists focus on instrumentals while Nolan pushes his vocal talent to capture the true art of his work. Nolan released his single, King of the World, on August 15, 2022 and his next single, Emerald Eyes, on September 22, 2022. Nolan is currently documenting a vlog series entitled “Making a Musician” following his journey in making it as a musical artist from a small town showcasing all the moving parts from studio recordings, video and photo production, to live shows and building a brand.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit about your “origin story”. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

For as long as I can remember, I lived with my grandparents in Greensburg and they had me in Cherubs choir which probably really started my passion for music and performing. I started really wanting to create music in 7th grade when I started writing poetry. I remember writing poems in my notebooks instead of doing homework. Music was just always what I wanted to do.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

What originally brought me to music was having it as my therapy. Writing music was a way for me to write lyrics and clear my head, it was a freeing like talking to a friend, my own personal way of getting out depression or anxiety. My music started becoming more happy and less emotional later in my life after my teenage years. I’d repeat the songs to my friends and they just loved it and that’s when I thought I could seriously pursue it.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I started first making music, I was really terrified to perform anywhere I almost insisted on not performing. I struggled with imposter syndrome and would stand in my own way. I liked my music but I didn’t know if the audience would like it. It was ego-lifting when people would compliment my music and it encouraged me to perform more and more.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was working on one of my new singles, Emerald Eyes, I was so excited when it was done. I showed the single at an open mic and I completely forgot the 2nd half of the song because it was so new. While I was performing, I started making up lyrics as I went and then they ended up being the actual lyrics. I would say, don’t perform a song until it’s a rehearsed and completed song!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most exciting project right now is working on my first album, So What Now. So What Now is 3-years in the making and full of old tracks we brought back from the graveyard that we wanted to make even better. I was really at a roadblock in the beginning of the album and the title came from the concept of what it’s like to be in a situation when everything goes wrong and how to turn it around. If it wasn’t for the song Ski Mask, I don’t think So What Now would have ever been made. It was the 1st of the year and no ideas were coming to us and that song really fueled my love for creating again.

We’re also creating a vlog series called Making a Musician that follows what it’s like to make it in the music industry from a small town, from web and photo creation, performances, to video and photo direction, studio time and brand development.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music, film, and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Not one culture can experience everything, I think diverse music is absolutely something that should be established and given a platform. I listen to so many kinds of music and that’s what inspires me. The music industry has to be diverse because:

  1. You get to understand things had you not be able to understand through the perspectives of others. Lyrics have a way of showing us other ways of life. I think it’s so important to be open to many genres of music.
  2. If you only focus one genre or one culture of music, it can potentially block your own creative style.
  3. Music and entertainment is an expression of individual experiences.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t fear the journey. Keep your head in the sky but your feet on the ground, remember that nothing great was made overnight.
  2. You’re not as profound as you think you are, there’s always room to grow.
  3. Remember knowledge is key. Continue reading, fiction, poetry. Keep up with your knowledge, don’t falter in that sense. It opens your mind and helps creativity flow. When it comes to music, I always have an image in my mind of what I think the song will have a feel of and the lyrics come to me.
  4. Be a student before you think you’re a master. I think you should spend the rest of your life as a student so that you can continuously learn more and accept help when you need to. I’m used to writing music in my parents’ basement alone and stepping out, I had to learn to be a part of a team and how to use everyone’s talents to make the dream a reality. When you have a team, it makes it seem like it’s more possible than it felt alone.
  5. Love life. Appreciate the journey. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. When I first started seriously producing music, the pandemic hit — it really made me appreciative of the good things in life. My music matured as my mindset matured during the pandemic. It taught me that things are going to be OK.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

My biggest flaw is not knowing my limits and not knowing when to stop. I’ll pile on projects and stress and instead of burning out, my body shuts down and I will get physically sick. When I was stuck inside during the pandemic, I learned to appreciate the outside so much more. The pandemic gave me a huge burn out, I felt helpless and useless watching the world completely change around me and had no idea what to do about it. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, months turned into years. When you experience burn out or writer’s block, the best thing to do is not focus on it. Don’t force the moment, let the moment come to you.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I had to inspire any movement, I’d say find your freedom. My goal in life was to always be the freest that I can be. I don’t want to be held down or there ever to be a time when I’m tethered to anything. I want to explore life and find answers in myself. The freedom movement. Whatever makes you feel, you should pursue. You shouldn’t spend every day on a phone screen or social media, but engaged in the world around you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My parents are #1. None of this would be possible without my parents. I told them when I was 16 that I didn’t want to get a car or go to college, and that I didn’t want to do anything else but music. As soon as they saw my work ethic and passion and how much I put into it, they supported me. Without that support and their investment, I wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful for my full team, my Producer Dan, my Manager Josh, my Publicist Charissa. Making a musician is really a team effort.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ve lived by a quote my dad always told me, “Do not make excuses for failure but find reasons for success,” I constantly relate back to this quote.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Elvis. I would definitely want to talk to Elvis, I’ve never related to anything more than when I saw that movie.

How can our readers follow you online?

@nolanjaemusic on Instagram

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Ming S. Zhao

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.