Jordan Bleyer sometimes feels as if he’s living a double life.
The 25-year-old spends his days teaching social studies to eighth-graders at Lebanon Middle School. He frequently volunteers for after-school activities, including a program that helps expelled students get on the right track.
But when he gets home, Bleyer works on creating rap music as Michael Wavves.
He initially kept his musical passion pretty quiet, worried about what his peers would think.
“At first, I was really weird about how it would work out — people being like, ‘You teach and rap? That’s a really odd combination,’” Bleyer says.
That changed when the Lebanon Daily News ran a front-page article about his February 2015 show at the Chameleon Club.
“I still remember that day,” Bleyer says. “I came in, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, my God, I had no idea.’”
Bleyer will headline his second show at the Chameleon on Saturday, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.
Young Black and Michael Wavves, to play the Chameleon Club Saturday, both have a personal connection to lung cancer.
Path to music
As an athletic kid, Bleyer says he didn’t really dabble in music until he was older. He realized his creative tendencies when he was assigned to write a poem in a high school English class.
After just 10 or 15 minutes, Bleyer had a full page of poetry. He got a 100 percent on the assignment.
“It just kind of happened,” Bleyer says. “I was like, ‘Oh, that was actually pretty easy.’”
He thinks he can attribute his performance abilities to his late grandfather, Glenn Heilman, who acted in silent movies in his youth.
“I honestly believe that is where I got my ‘entertainment bone,’ ” Bleyer says.
His interest in music hit full throttle when he met Eric Fletcher at Millersville University. The pair started recording in Fletcher’s Lenhardt Hall dorm room, and Fletcher engineered their tracks.
They recorded their first collaboration in a bathroom so they didn’t get any background noise from the football game Fletcher’s roommates were watching on TV.
“It just made sense to work with someone else who was equally adamant and into learning about music as I was,” Fletcher says.
They now work together in Fletcher’s in-home basement studio. They find beats they like online on SoundCloud, get permission from their creators and pace around the room humming melodies until they find something that sticks.
“When we hang out, we usually end up making music,” Fletcher says. “It’s just a fun thing we’re turning into something more.”
Last August, Bleyer’s grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Since he had off from his teaching job in the summer, he took her to many of her early doctor’s appointments and kept her company during her chemotherapy treatments. Some days, he was by his grandmother’s side for six hours at a time.
“I feel like her and I got really close,” Bleyer says. “I came up with this idea back then, the next big show I do, I want to donate to a foundation.”
Bleyer says he chose the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation because it’s patient-founded and patient-driven.
“I just wanted a little more meaning,” Bleyer says. “Playing a show is cool, playing new music and going on tour and stuff. But I wanted a personal attachment to it — which I think resonates with a lot of my music.”
Bleyer says he doesn’t have an interest in rapping about violence, guns or sex — topics he says are “stereotypical to what hip-hop is.” He sometimes worries about his students hearing his music if it’s too profane, but also doesn’t want to limit his creativity.
“I think it definitely helps that I’m real to myself,” Bleyer says.
Bleyer is inspired by Kanye West’s creative boldness and Drake’s singing-rapping and ability to show his soft side.
“He got a lot of hate for it but just did it anyway and showed the vulnerability of a rapper instead of trying to seem super hard,” Bleyer says.
He also likes Mike Posner, G-Eazy and New England-based rapper Sammy Adams. Bleyer collaborated with Adams on the song “Bad,” to be released next March.
Bleyer has opened for artists including Chiddy Bang, Jake Miller and Andy Grammer, which allows him to connect to his teenage students.
“It actually helps me connect with the kids, especially teaching in an urban district where they listen to rap all the time,” Bleyer says. “I actually have met and performed with some of their favorite artists. I can connect with kids on another level. And there’s kids who are interested in music — they will write songs and bring them to me.”
Bleyer doesn’t think he’d be a good music teacher though, and is happy to keep both passions separate. He says he enjoys pursuing both teaching and music for the same reason — each outlet gives him the opportunity to impact a person’s life.
“I think it’s a blessing that I can do both at the same time and be successful at both,” Bleyer says. “I don’t want to intertwine the two worlds too much, but where they accent each other in a positive way, I think it’s an awesome thing.”