Q: Hi Jay! I love the infectious beat of “Over Love”; it’s short but sweet, and is catchy literally within the first 3 seconds. Can you walk me through the creative process of making this track?
JAY KAYZE: I had been going through it with an ex. She wouldn’t stop calling me while I was in the studio with my producer Koste. After making the mistake of answering I was left in a fury. Over it. Over anything tied to committed emotions, and over love.
Marco asked if I was ok. If I needed a second, I replied, “Nah, play me a beat.” As the instrumental began, and I first heard the guitar riff, the melody was already there. As if a forgotten mantra that was slowly coming back to me, dancing on the tip of my tongue. As the beat dropped I erupted, “You might have known me, but not met the person that I have become. Once controlled me, but now I am over drugs, over love.”
There it was. The entirety of the song. It’s message, it’s core, everything that needed to be said in two simple direct lines, and the perfect set up for what the EP was to be about.
Q: Your vocals have a really wide range and has a unique flare to it. I’m curious; who are your biggest musical influences?
JAY: Lauryn Hill should be everyone’s inspiration, and she’s definitely one of my biggest. To me, her seamless changes from rapping and singing always set her apart. It allowed her to connect both intellectually and emotionally. The smooth rap verses give your brain food for thought, and the deep harmonies and melodies tug on every heart string.
Akon was nothing less than a god of pop music. Every hook was ear candy. Every verse, a beautiful but easy to understand story. “Trouble” was one of my first records as a kid.
As far as additional influences it’s more rap leaning, Kanye West, Eminem, 50 Cent, Andre 3000, Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes. As I got older it was the likes of Kid Cudi, J. Cole, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received about the music industry, and how has it helped you navigate your journey thus far?
JAY: Everything is transactional. Even those that believe in you and want you to succeed still want something in return. No one is willing or able to give free handouts, but that’s ok. You should work hard enough, cultivate a brand and a following strong enough that you have something to offer. If you’re not providing value then you’re not doing it right.
I used to take it personally. “I know I’m talented, why aren’t I being given my shot.” Frankly, there are millions of extraordinarily talented individuals. If you’re not willing to outwork them, and provide more value to the fans they’re also trying to win over, then you’ll lose. They’ll get the opportunity you were hoping for.
Once I realized I possessed all the power. That becoming my own gravity by creating value for my audience would bring everything else, doors flew open.
Q: Being in Northern California, is there any advice you can give to other new artists coming out of that area?
JAY: There is no one way to the top. There is no co-sign more valuable than hard work. Take it fan by fan, day by day. If you want it bad enough, and are willing to work hard enough, no amount of gatekeeping can keep you from where you’re destined to go.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have three albums with you, which would they be?
JAY: “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, The College Dropout, 2014 Forest Hills Drive”
Q: What’s the writing process like for you? (and specifically for writing “Over Love”? Do you write your songs in one sitting or is more of a complicated process?
JAY: Writing to me is my superpower. Aside from playing a multitude of instruments, producing on or most of my own records, being able to sing and rap, it’s what sets me apart. Not a single word is wasted, and I don’t say anything without purpose.
For that reason I take the creation process in stride. I force nothing. Sometimes that means allowing time to complete a song, and coming back to it, but sometimes it means I’m simply the conduit for a song to pass through. That was the case with “Over Love”. After hearing the beat, the words and melody immediately poured out of me, I even freestyled the verse.
That’s not always the case though. More times than not I prefer to be alone with an instrumental and craft the words and melody around it. I need to be in a space where I can let my walls down completely. I’ll listen to the beat, find what it’s missing, space for the words and melody to sit, and then do my best to amplify what’s already there. The lyrics and melody are no good if they don’t compliment what’s already present, and vice versa.
Usually I write more than one song at a time. I’ll start on one track and once I feel myself becoming stuck or like I’m beginning to force it, I move to the next. Then I repeat that process. I bounce back and forth between songs until they’re done. It can take me anywhere from one to four hours to finish three to five songs. Most times they’re completed before I get out of my seat.
Q: In your own words, how would you describe the type of music you typically create?
JAY: Hip Hop. Real music. Poetry brought to life. For me, music is more than a catchy melody, it’s supposed to mean something.
That’s what the greats do. That’s why we admire the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Drake and J. Cole so highly. Because they’re not simply making good sounding songs, they have a message.
That’s what makes “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” a classic. “College Dropout” is a classic. Because even decades later they still have meaning, and people from a different time, in a different place can still listen and relate. Listen and find value or like someone understands what they’re going through.
I will never say something just for it to sound good. I will never write something without purpose. No matter how pop my music is, at times there’s something there. No matter how
rap heavy my music gets at times, there’s something there.
I want to wake people up to their one chance at life, inspire confidence to go for it, and help make the world a brighter, more loving place.
Q: Parting words to your fans? What would you like to say to those reading this?
JAY: Love yourself enough to not be offended. By anyone’s perception, advice, or disrespect. Love yourself enough to take your one chance at life, and truly be happy. Go for it. Fail. Try again. Laugh it off because it is funny. Love yourself enough to not need all the answers and trust that you will find them along the way. Love yourself enough to love a stranger. Because deep down we’re all the same. We all put up walls when we’re hurt, act out of spite when we’re angry, and judge others because of the judgement we feel towards ourselves. Love yourself so much that it becomes your armor. Not making you cold or spiteful. Rather, being able to love openly and freely knowing it puts you at risk of getting hurt, but knowing and trusting you’re strong enough to take it, and continue loving. Love yourself first.
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
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