Jann Klose and Willam Kapfer Source: Willam Kapfer

OWDB: A Songwriter's World: Jann Klose on Crafting Music That Crosses Continents

Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 10 MIN.

I've had the great pleasure of knowing Jann Klose, an award-winning singer-songwriter, for many years. On several memorable occasions, he's even treated us to impromptu mini-concerts, strumming his guitar in our New York apartment and at our home on Fire Island.

Recently, ahead of his busy summer performance schedule, I had the unique opportunity to catch up with him at Elmo in Chelsea.
We grabbed seats at the bustling bar and delved into his diverse musical journey, chatting about everything from his early influences to his recent projects. (For more on Jann's career, music and acting career, visit his website.)

Here's a glimpse into that enlightening conversation.

Jann Klose is a celebrated artist known for his unique blend of pop, rock, and folk, deeply influenced by his international upbringing in Germany, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States. This diverse cultural exposure is reflected in his music, which often tackles themes of love, loss, and human emotions.

Since relocating to the U.S., Jann has launched a successful music career, releasing several albums that showcase his ability to create deeply personal and captivating melodies.

Throughout his career, Jann has been recognized for his impressive vocal range and musical versatility. His performances are noted for their intimate energy, captivating audiences whether in cozy venues or grand concert halls.

His collaborations with various artists have enriched his musical style and allowed him to continuously refine his sound.

Jann's unwavering dedication to his art and his skill in navigating different musical styles have not only won him a loyal fan base but also widespread critical acclaim, establishing him as a distinctive voice in the contemporary music scene.

Watch Jann Klose's video for "All the Way Down". /

Early Life & Influences

Dr. Bill: Jann, your childhood spanned continents–from Germany to Africa. Can you share how these experiences influenced your music?

Jann: Absolutely. Growing up in Africa shaped me in many ways. I've always been interested in other cultures and musical styles, and in unusual instruments. Africa has somuch of that and it has influenced Western music profoundly. Fun memory: When I was a very young boy my parents climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with me and my brother on their backs.

Dr. Bill: What brought you from South Africa to pursue music in other parts of the world?

Jann: We lived in Hamburg, Germany when I was a teen. I eventually joined an AFS (American Field Service) exchange student program which first brought me to America. I later studied here in the US and made my way to New York City in the early 2000s.

Jann Klose and Wiliam Kapfer
Source: William Kapfer

Musical Journey and Songwriting Process

Dr. Bill: How did you first get involved in music, and who were your early influences?

Jann: I listened to the radio; American Top 40, British Top 40, and later, crossed over into many other genres from Jazz Fusion to Opera to Theatre to Rock, Blues and Folk. Some of my earliest influences were artists like Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Joel, Prince, Mike Oldfield, CSNY and Led Zeppelin.

Dr. Bill: Starting out in music can be challenging. What were some of the hurdles you faced early on in your music career?

Jann: Being in the right place at the right time, doing your homework, being prepared and overcoming obstacles.

Dr. Bill: Can you describe your songwriting process? Where do you usually find inspiration for your songs?

Jann: I generally start with a melody but there are many different ways to get a song finished. Sometimes they come really fast and sometimes it can take years. The biggest challenge is always when you get close to the finish line and pushing to get those last couple of lines written!

Dr. Bill: One of my personal favorites among the songs you've performed is "Don't Give Up," which you collaborated on with Annie Haslam and Rave Tesar. I fondly remember when Eric and I, along with some friends visiting from South Africa, were invited to the release party in late 2016.

This song, originally by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, deeply resonated with me during my senior year of college in London. Released amidst the economic challenges under Margaret Thatcher's leadership, its lyrics poignantly captured the despair of those struggling with job loss and its emotional toll. I recall feeling anxious about my future career, wondering if I would ever find a job after graduation.

Is there a song that holds a special meaning for you? I'd love to hear the story behind it

Jann: I wrote a song with Tamara Dey at a BMI Songwriters Camp in Cape Town several years ago called "You & I". We initially imagined ourselves as space traveling lovers and that shaped the story. I first recorded it for my 2018 album "In Tandem" and then Tamara just released it as a new dance/pop version on her EP "La Musica" and the track went to Number 1 in South Africa–to my complete surprise! The message of course is: You never know what can happen. Just follow your instincts, keep creating.

Watch Jann Klose's video for "Surrender". /

by Dr. William Kapfer

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