A lot happened to Jordan Bleyer while living on Vine Street.
Bleyer, 28, rented a house in Lancaster city with a few other guys for two years. During that time, the Vine Street location was the understood gathering place for his circle of friends.
The musician went through a lot of personal growth during those years, too. It was where he spent his first years out of college and struggled with guilt of being away from his family. He also went through a breakup and endured the grief of losing his grandmother, who died after a battle with cancer.
Bleyer, who makes hip-hop as Michael Wavves, always admired rappers who weren’t afraid to be vulnerable. It just took experiencing some difficulties himself before he could do that.
Bleyer will celebrate the release of his new EP, “Nights on Vine,” Friday at Tellus360. The 28-year-old Lancaster resident says the music is his rawest and most unguarded yet.
When he’s not pursuing music, Bleyer is an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Lebanon Middle School.
Prior to “Nights on Vine,” Bleyer took a year and a half off from releasing music, a decision he still grapples with. In that time, he wrote 40 to 50 songs, using music for catharsis.
“I was extremely personal on a lot of these songs,” Bleyer says.
While he spoke in the past about wanting to be vulnerable in his music, Bleyer says he now sees his earlier work as “braggadocios, generic rap tracks.” The songs on “Nights on Vine” tackle more than just the victories.
“I talk about my dad, I talk about my grandma, my sisters, my girlfriend, not liking yourself — different things that, some of my closest friends I wouldn’t talk about them with, but I put them in songs,” Bleyer says.
He decided to end his hiatus in January. He was nervous to see the response from his family and friends, but was pleasantly surprised with the feedback.
“I noticed right away people started to notice the increase in quality of the music, and people just started to care,” Bleyer says.
Bleyer wrote the songs with his creative partner, Eric Fletcher, a producer he met while they were students at Millersville University.
The pair often hole up in Fletcher’s home, humming melodies back and forth to one another. Because they don’t rely on a studio’s schedule, they can record whenever inspiration hits them.
Bleyer and Fletcher started experimenting with music together as students. Bleyer says they’ve grown together as artists, and working together is now second-nature.
“I don’t know anything else,” Bleyer says. “I’ve always made music with him. It’s a given. It’s natural.”
Fletcher says “Nights on Vine” is more melodic and mature than his past work with Bleyer.
“It’s a preview into the future, as a majority of the songs recorded after this have a darker and more honest tone,” Fletcher says.
The pair found beats online made from several producers, some international. Bleyer would reach out and receive the rights before moving forward and using it on his own tracks.
“Nights on Vine” features more singing than in past Michael Wavves releases. Bleyer says he took vocal lessons for eight months to bolster his chops.
He also beefed up his stage show, adding a DJ, a drummer and a light show. On tour and at Tellus360, Bleyer will be joined by DJ Zack Anderson and drummer Chris Norton. Anderson and Norton are both formerly of the band the Casual, and also went to Millersville.
Bleyer is looking forward to the “Nights on Vine” tour, which he scheduled around his school district’s days off. He’s excited to share his new music — not just from “Nights on Vine,” but the tracks he’s currently making, too.
“I feel like I’m finally expressing myself in songs in a way that if somebody listened, No. 1, they would they would understand me more as an artist, and No 2., they can listen and be like, ‘This can help me get through my own ups and downs and struggles,’ ” Bleyer says.