Young Readers' new album delivers indie folk delight

“It’s no secret that I’m constantly on the move,” Jordan Herrera admitted appropriately from the road. “It’s hard for me to sit somewhere for more than a month at a time.”

That difficulty settling down was both an inspiration and an obstacle for the upcoming album Migrator, Herrera’s full-length debut under his Young Readers moniker.

It’s an album full of the indie-folk cornerstones of Young Readers’ sound: sparse guitar, melancholy lyrics and Jordan’s own soft voice. But for his first full-scale album, Herrera and producer/engineer Steve Boaz also experimented with new atmospheres and textures.

They carved out a few weeks and locked themselves and a slew of local musicians inside Boaz’s Breathing Rhythm Studio in Norman to help realize their vision. They then started planning the long post-production, mixing, mastering process so they could release the album on vinyl.

Unfortunately, all of those things cost money.

“I knew I had to turn to Kickstarter after adding up all the costs,” Herrera said. “It would take me over six months of work to save up enough for it myself. Maybe longer.”

He didn’t want to put the project on hold, so he took a chance and asked his fans to financially support the project.

“The responses were generally supportive,” he said, “but I did talk to a few people that were completely against it. I guess they pictured the Kickstarter platform more like a service for handouts.”

Herrera is unique, however, in that he has a history of audience participation and interactivity in his work. In 2012, he released the first Young Readers EP, Family Trees, with a coloring-and-activity book motif. It even came with a pack of crayons and encouragement to color and manipulate the artwork. He said he wanted his friends and supporters to take active roles in his work, and the open-source approach paid off as he established a valuable roster of contacts and relationships.

“I don’t think I would’ve met half the people I know if my EP didn’t come with crayons,” he said. “It has helped start great conversations and ever better friendships.”

He credits those connections as integral to the successful crowdfunding campaign for Migrator. Kickstarter donation perks also were designed to create unique experiences and interactions with his art, including personalized photos from the road, handwritten lyrics and notes and even an opportunity for Jordan to record a separate EP in a fan’s home.

“Over 150 people from all over the United States and other parts of the world banded together to help raise all of the money,” he said. “It was refreshing to have so many friends and new fans support something that they hadn’t even listened to yet.”

Boaz, Herrera’s main collaborator and sounding board for this project, also said he was excited about the support their project received.

But he wasn’t surprised.

“Like many artists I have so much respect for, he eats, lives and breathes for his music, and he has a lot of supporters all over the country that believe in him,” Boaz said. “His music isn’t for everybody, but when it is for you, it crushes you like a bulldozer. It’s the people he’s reached that love being crushed that are giving him the key.”

The next step for Herrera was to leave the album’s post-production in Boaz’s capable hands and head back out on tour.

Playing live allows Young Readers to tighten and refine new songs before returning to OKC for an album release show sometime later this year. It also puts Herrera back in his comfort zone on the road.

“I don’t think the Kickstarter would’ve reached the goal of $8,000 without the past three years of extensive touring,” Herrera said. “It was tough to be back in one spot again for a few months, but I knew that the time spent in the studio would be worthwhile and that it would lead to more time on the road and to new adventures.”

The band is on tour now.

Migrator is set for release later this summer.

Print headline: Migratory patterns, Indie folk act Young Readers finds financial support from fans and friends in its effort to finish its album debut.