Your upcoming single "One Summer's Day" paints a beautiful and nostalgic summer scene. How did you come up with the storyline for this song?
Jay: I drew on a real experience I had while I was living in Turkey and getting my Turkish driving license. I’d never written a song drawing on a real relationship before (even though if you listen to the song you realize it’s not actually a real relationship) and I wanted to evoke the feeling of that summer. I felt such freedom, it was so much fun. I wanted to capture that feeling in a song.
On your website, it mentions you utilize your experience as a filmmaker to write songs that tell stories. What specific skills have you adapted from your career as a filmmaker?
Jay: In filmmaking you’re constantly being told to show the important parts of the story, start where the action happens, things like that. I try and use those ideas in my songwriting - creating short but vibrant scenes. Every time I write a new song I’m already visualizing the music video. I don’t always have the resources to make the music videos I’d like to, but in my head, I see each song as a little movie.
What has your transition from the filmmaking world into the music industry been like? What particular challenges have you faced?
Jay: At first it was really daunting. I had found all the people locally involved in filmmaking and had gotten better at networking. When I switched to the music scene, I didn’t know anyone. It took a year or two to build up contacts and get better at networking but I’m getting to know people now and that makes all the difference.
When did you realize you wanted to be a professional in the music industry? Have you always been musically inclined?
Jay: I started writing songs when I was a kid and always performed in small circles. I tried to do it professionally in my early twenties but didn’t have the right support, knowledge, or experience to be honest. The internet wasn’t as accessible as it is now with TikTok. I couldn’t get anywhere with it and had no understanding of how to move forward, plus I was insecure and directly connected my music to my emotions which is a terrible way to do business. You have to be emotional when writing a song but be able to see it as a product and separate from your core being otherwise it will overwhelm you. There’s so much rejection. So I got disheartened but I believed the reason I couldn’t do it was that I wasn’t very good at singing or songwriting. I laid my real passion to write songs and perform them aside. I still did it as a hobby but whenever anyone asked me if I wanted it as a career I said no. Until I got played on BBC Introducing in 2018. That was a turning point for me.
How do you go about creating a song that tells a story? What's your process like?
Jay: I tend to write the hook first. Funnily enough, the hook for One Summer’s Day was a bridge in another song. And then I thought, wait - I really like this bridge, maybe its a hook. Once I have the hook which contains the theme I write the story around it in the verses. I spend a long time, days maybe weeks, writing the verses, trying to get them as concise and tight as possible.
Who are some of your biggest influences or inspirations?
Jay: Taylor Swift, Maisie Peters, Gregg Alexander, Gary Clark. They all write great hooks and use emotion really well in their songs.
Interviewed By Hannah Conkin
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