Meet Jayden Bartels, “Gen Z’s ultimate triple threat” (Sat. at WCL, w/ Echosmith)

If you’re looking for some charmingly enchanting post-Valentine’s Day plans, for better or worse, this Saturday indie poppers Echosmith are bringing their Lonely Generation Tour to World Café Live. ...

If you’re looking for some charmingly enchanting post-Valentine’s Day plans, for better or worse, this Saturday indie poppers Echosmith are bringing their Lonely Generation Tour to World Café Live.  The tour is in support of Lonely Generation, just their second album and first since their 2013 debut, Talking Dreams.  However, in addition to the SoCal sibling act, the evening also features indie rockers Weathers and teenage pop phenom Jayden Bartels.  Bartels is a singer/songwriter, actress, and dancer, perhaps best known as Peyton on Disney’s Coop and Cami Ask the World.  However, since 2018 it’s been her music that’s made the biggest splash.  Her debut EP, What Really Matters, came out last fall and boasts a quirky collection of folk pop tunes with more than a passing nod to introspective summertime jams of the mid-‘90s.  And just last week she released new single “Gameboy,” a lovely amalgam of ‘90s R&B and bubblegum angst pop of the aughts.  Earlier this week I got a chance to chat with Jayden Bartels about her career, thus far, in addition to what’s to come.

Izzy Cihak: Despite still being relatively young, you’ve already spent a lot of time “in the spotlight,” so to speak.  What have been some of your own, personal highlights of your career so far?

Jayden Bartels: Connecting with amazing people. I’ve made so many friends along the way, and I’m excited to meet a lot of new people on this tour.

Izzy: On a related note, how do you feel about being referred to as “Gen Z’s ultimate triple threat?”  That’s pretty awesome, but also feels like a lot to live up to [laughs].

Jayden: [Laughs] I mean, how can you really live up to that?! I appreciate it being said, but stressing myself out about living up to it is not something I can get in my head about. In general, that’s how I feel about a lot of things. Be grateful for kind words, but don’t carry them on your back. They can’t become an expectation, or you’ll always let yourself down. I just try to do my best. If I do my best, I will always be proud of myself.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the biggest influences behind your music, whether they be musical, or just aspects of life?

Jayden: My life is what influences my lyrics. Everything I write about is a real story I’ve experienced, and I can’t imagine that being any other way. Music helps me process some of my harder moments in life, and I’m grateful from that. In terms of artists I love that inspire me… there are a ton. Some that I’m a really big fan of include Clairo, Grace Vanderwaal, and Taylor Swift.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions or responses to your music, whether from critics, fans, or just friends?

Jayden: I love when my fans and friends hear a song and they know exactly what it’s about. That’s always fun. Whether it’s because they relate to it, or they actually know the person I’m singing about. When people’s eyes light up because they “get it”… that makes me so happy. It’s why I enjoy sharing my stories so much.

Izzy: Do you currently have a favorite song of yours, whether one you’re most proud of, one that you feel best represents you, or just one that’s just especially fun to play live?  I really love, “Misheard Runaways,” which reminds me a bit of early Lisa Loeb and Kate Nash.

Jayden: Thank you! “Misheard Runaways” is a song I’m really proud of… and just everything on the EP, What Really Matters?  I’m really proud of the lyrics and emotion I conveyed on those songs. I’m also really proud of my new song “Gameboy,” because it shows off a new side of me. In that song, I know that I’m being played… but what everyone didn’t know I was playing too 😉

Izzy: You’re currently kicking off a big batch of shows supporting Echosmith.  How excited are you for that?  Were you previously fans of the group?  I imagine they’ll be pretty cool people to be on the road with.

Jayden: I am a huge fan of them and still can’t believe it’s real. As I’m doing this interview, I’m getting ready for the first night of tour. I’m excited to play my set for the first time… but also really excited to watch their set!!!! It’s going to be cool to see The Weathers as well.

Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience when you play here at World Café Live this Saturday?

Jayden: It’s a new type of show I’m doing this time. It’s a completely acoustic set, so a bit more emotional than some of the other shows I’ve played. I’m really keeping it about the music, and hoping those stories speak for themselves. I also have a fun crowd-pleasing cover that will surprise people a little bit… but in a good way.

Izzy: And I know you kind of have an endless number of things going on constantly, so I’m curious what you’re most excited about in 2020.  Anything that especially stands out for you?

Jayden: My 2020 is already mostly booked… which is crazy… but really cool!! There will definitely be more music, and some other special projects that are getting announced soon.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.