interview. Following an eight-year break, Jason Myles Goss makes a bold and self-assured comeback with the ‘Misfit’ EP

"Working on 'Misfit' was letting go of all of that. The way I was doing things before—I could now see all of my mistakes"
14 December 2023

A seasoned songwriter, NYC-based Singer-Songwriter​ Jason Myles Goss has spent over 15 years touring and independently releasing music. His last album, This Town Is Only Going To Break Your Heart (2015), came just before the birth of his first son, shaping a record about the towns that define us and the perpetual cycle of children growing up to have kids of their own.​ Jason Myles Goss is re-igniting the music scene with his latest EP, Misfit.

The narrative takes an intriguing turn in 2018 when Goss welcomes a daughter, causing a significant pause in his music career. And then, the world was struck by the pandemic. Living through these transformative years, Goss discovered a newfound maturity, confronting the responsibility of making his kids feel safe and loved while realizing the vast unknowns about the world and himself.

The hiatus allowed for introspection, a return to songwriting, and shedding unnecessary worries. Goss shares, “Working on ‘Misfit’ was letting go of all of that. The way I was doing things before—I could now see all of my mistakes. Putting things away gave me a chance to find my love for writing songs again.”

Despite an eight-year gap in releases, Misfit emerges as a confident and decisive re-entry into the music scene. The EP draws upon diverse sounds and influences, exploring the pervasive theme of growing older and the grand illusion of adulthood. Magic, both as a concept and metaphor, weaves through the lyrics, symbolizing the intricate art of becoming and disappearing as we navigate the complexities of aging.

As Goss makes a comeback in the music scene, Misfit serves as a testament to the evolution of an artist, presenting a genuine and reflective musical journey that harmonizes timeless storytelling with a contemporary outlook. Dive into our interview below to gain insights into his latest work and life.

One of my favorite bands as a kid was The Smashing Pumpkins, I just loved how they so unapologetically moved between sounds and genres

After an eight-year hiatus, you are making a comeback with your latest EP, Misfit. Can you provide insights into the themes and inspirations behind this highly anticipated release?

These songs were written over a long period. Younger Man (the lead off track) was written just after becoming a father for the first time, and Somebody (the final track) was written very quickly just before we planned to record. I think there are some through lines in terms of of themes, even though the songs are all very different. I think the most foundational is that of growing older, the sleight-of-hand trick of adulthood, the inherent trade offs and failings that we endure as we get older, and trying to do and be the best we can for our kids

In This Town Is Only Going To Break Your Heart (2015), you explored the towns that shape you. How does this theme continue or transform in Misfit, especially considering the significant life events you experienced during the hiatus?

I definitely see Misfit as a continuation of many of the themes in This Town Is Only Going To Break Your Heart. In both releases I was very much living the questions in real time. To me, This Town is about coming to terms with adulthood and who we are, and the continual story of kids growing up to have kids of their own. But where I was young enough then to think that the responsibility of parents was to protect your kids from the callousness and confusion of the world, by Misfit, when my kids were older, I realized that the hardest part of being a parent is not to protect them but to ultimately prepare them for the world, as it is, and that involves a ‘letting go’ that I struggle with. Misfit also deals with the inevitability of change and impermanence, whereas This Town still contains some cynical chest-pounding about the way things go, i.e high school bullies becoming small town cops, and so forth.

How did the pandemic impact your perspective on life, music, and creativity?

My family and I live in NYC, so we were at the epicenter of outbreak here in the states. 2020 was a hard and scary time. It was also that convergence point where the very things we had to try to understand the world and to try to maintain connection, empathy for one another, become the same tools that exacerbated divisiveness and antipathy. I felt like a mosquito flying into one of those bug light zappers. I think we were just mainly trying to keep our hands on the wheel, trying to make sure our kids were safe and felt loved. I did not write much of anything during that time, but music and art, imagination and family dance parties became so vital for us during that time.

Misfit explores the concept of magic and the illusions of growing older. How do you convey these themes throughout the EP, and what inspired the recurring subject of magic in your lyrics?

One this started with one song called Prestidigitator which was never finished, though much of the lyrical themes got interwoven in the Misfit, the title track, and Who I Am Anymore. I just loved that word—half jokingly I wanted to call the project, Time (the prestidigitator), as an homage to Gilian Welch’s 3rd record, which is one of my favorite records of all time. This idea of growing older as the ultimate disappearing act was a fun idea to play with. I liked the tragic and magical elements of that, the tricks we employ on others and ourselves, and the tension between how glamorous and exciting these illusions are to see and experience, but once you know how a trick is done, it becomes this dull and quotidian exercise.

The lead-off track, Younger Man, is described as erupting with electric guitars and a rhythm reminiscent of 1970s Bill Withers. How does this track set the tone for the rest of the EP, and what story does it tell?

I am so proud of how this song came out, and the ghostly, snarling, soul sounds are largely due to the amazing musicians who contributed their talents to this project. JP Ruggieri who plays the electric guitars, Michael Bellar on organ, Craig Akin on electric bass and Joel Arnow on drums (he also co-produced and engineered the project). I wanted this track to be the farthest thing from a “guy with a guitar” sounding song. One of my favorite bands as a kid was The Smashing Pumpkins, I just loved how they so unapologetically moved between sounds and genres. There is some darkness in the lyrics here, and for me, this song touches on personal failings and being unable to shake them, in my case at the time, becoming a father and learning how little you know about yourself and how much you need to grow to rise to this incredible responsibility.

How do you navigate the balance between embracing a playful confidence and addressing darker themes in Misfit, particularly evident in tracks like Somebody?

What a great question, I don’t always succeed at this, but in general I think this kind of ambivalence in songs can make them very interesting. Somebody in particular, with all of its tongue-in-cheek swagger, actually has some of the most confessional lyrics on the EP. On the visual side (picturing a Bob Ross painting episode), contouring is crucial to depicting the depth of something, the distance and the dark and the light, they both have to be involved. It doesn’t have to be grandiose or complicated for it to matter or to feel true or relatable.

The EP concludes with Somebody, a Jeff Lynne-inspired rocker. How does this track serve as a conclusion to the journey presented in Misfit, and what does it reveal about your musical evolution over the years?

When we were reviewing songs for this project, this one was a bit of an orphan. It was not really clear how it should be dressed up or whether it should be playful, aggressive, if it should be fast or more plodding. Joel Arnow really set this song on a great path by taking some cues from George Harrison’s 1987 release Cloud Nine. Once we started in that vein it was a lot clearer and was starting to sound a lot better. To your earlier question, this made sure the song wasn’t too top heavy and it could be playful but also confessional, it could have some “oohs” and “aahs” but it could also be a little dark lyrically. With so much time between records, and with raising kids in the interim, I think I was more ready than ever to kill all the darlings. Whereas I think years ago, I would have been preoccupied with what this song was “supposed” to sound like, as a singer/songwriter guy, at this point in my life, once Joel laid the groundwork for what the song could be, we just had fun with it. Less ego, less caring about how it would be received, and more fun and spending time making music with people you love.

Who would be your three most played artists on Spotify?

Well, these days, my Spotify is co-opted by my kids, so the Top 3 these days are Jungkook, The Jonas Brothers, and Taylor Swift, which are groovy with me. We took the kids to see BTS in Las Vegas—unreal.

What changes would you like to see happen in the music industry?

Oh I am not sure I have anything new or compelling to say here. I think the massive changes we have seen in the last decades have their tradeoffs. Certainly earning a living playing music is extremely difficult, though prior to Spotify and streaming, it was also extremely difficult. It has been 8 years since I released music, I just feel very lucky to be able to put out something new that I am very proud of and have people show love and support. I watched an interview of John Prine once and he said, “everyone I know is trying to get to the top of the mountain, me, I just want to keep going around the mountain.” Not to imply that I am on or even remotely near the same mountain as John Prine, but I love that sentiment, and I tell myself to think about “going around the mountain” and to enjoy the journey, whenever I am feeling down or overwhelmed.

If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?

Oh wow… I don’t know. Maybe John Hiatt, who is a force of nature.