MTS Management Group has done it again. This time they introduced me to Jay Elle, a singer/songeriter from New York City. Jay has a great voice and his songwriting is incredible. He is the complete package. When I first heard him, I knew I had to learn more. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Jay Elle.
New York City is a big place. What is the live music scene like in the Big Apple?
Quite vibrant, and, of course, ever changing as you can expect. I live 5 minutes away from Lincoln Center, so I get my fill of classical music fairly easily. The Upper West Side subway takes me downtown or uptown within 10 to 15 minutes. I can get to most of the clubs in less than half an hour. There’s always an opportunity to hear great live music. It’s really exciting. There is a music students’ dorm on my block. There’s always someone singing on top of their lungs in the middle of the night. I’m guessing they are coming back from rehearsal and it went well. Or from a bar, and it went just as well.
Tell me more about Rising Tide.
Rising Tide is my debut EP, released last December by Star 1 Records. I am so excited about the opportunity. A lot of work went into making this record. Laura Patterson heads the label. She is truly amazing. She has great instincts and really understands how artists think and what they go through. She has assembled an incredible team and they are all working really hard. College radios are playing the songs, reviewers are writing about the EP. It’s fantastic.
I love albums where you get a variety of sounds and styles. Rising Tide has the acoustic guitar pieces I love as well as the more edgy, rocking songs. It is exactly what I was hoping to present to listeners.
As a songwriter, where do you find inspiration for a new track?
Great question. Not easy to figure out what the exact answer might be though. I listen to a lot a music of course, many different styles. And some of it makes you think, “Wow! I wish I had written something like that!” But inspiration comes mostly from people and events taking place in my life or the lives of the people I get to meet or read about.
Sometimes a melody comes to my head, or a lyric line and they keep on going around and around. In fact they won’t leave me alone. Most of the time music ideas come up as I play guitar. I record them on a small digital recorder. I have tons of those. I tend to write music first. If I feel comfortable that I have an interesting idea I will try to match it to lyrics that I have already written or explore something new lyrically. Then it is a matter of going back and forth trying to create the “perfect union” between music and lyrics until I am satisfied. It can take a while and the re-writing is tedious.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
I admire anyone who writes well-crafted songs from Cole Porter to many contemporary writers you hear on the radio today, in all genre. Of course, I have my preferences, writers who combine lyrics and music in a very unique way, and happen to be amazing musicians and singers, some of which are now classics: Billy Joel, Freddie Mercury, Paul McCartney, Sting… Etc.
By the way, I am a big fan of Billy Idol, B.B. King, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Katy Perry, Elvis Presley, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Pat Benatar, Eric Clapton, Jay Z, Beyoncé, etc… So the list is quite long and eclectic. Add to that classical composers like Bach, Chopin and Liszt, to name only a few, and the list of influences becomes endless.
What are your thoughts on streaming applications like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora?
I favor every possible way of making music easily available to listeners around the world. If there is a second universal language, beside love, it would be music, in my humble opinion. Bringing people together through songs and music is a fantastic opportunity to get to “make the world a better place.” That may sound a bit idealistic of course. But when you see at what speed messages are passed around, thanks to today’s technology, we should look forward to more music being heard by more people around the world. Hopefully, that will quiet down some of the unpleasant rhetoric that’s flying around. Granted, not all lyrics are worthy of that much popularity.
Of course companies like Apple Music have business models that have financial implications for the artists. I am not sure anyone has been able to catch up with that challenge in a way that is fair to everyone. Let’s hope that with time a fair balance will be put in place. We need money to write, record and produce music. There is no way around it.
How many guitars do you own?
A dozen guitars are hanging or lying around at all times. Some of them not that easily accessible. I live in a very small place. I use a nylon string Yamaha for writing and practicing. It’s always at arm’s length. I am not worried about banging it a bit too hard now and then. When I record final tracks I use a Martin steel string, or an Ovation nylon string for acoustic parts. I have a Gibson ES45 which is my main electric guitar. I also use a Fender Stratocaster, a Kramer and other Gibson guitars depending on the sound a song calls for in my mind.
Tell me more about the single “Twelve on Sunday.”
“Twelve on Sunday” voices a father’s concerns about his twelve year old daughter out there, by herself, on the streets. She runs away after throwing a tantrum and her father reacts to her growing up and changing.
I was reading about runaway kids and there are countless stories about children who end up leaving home at a young age, living very difficult lives. I didn’t want to go that far in this song but explore how a father would react to at least the thought of his daughter growing up and possibly leaving for good.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard your music on the radio?
I was at home actually, in my home studio. I was changing strings on one of my guitars. It’s a great feeling. Strangely, it took a few seconds for me to react. Like catching your reflection in a mirror by accident and realizing you are looking at yourself a split second later. It was super exciting though. Just a bit of a delayed reaction.
Who are some of your favorite singer/songwriters to listen to?
Billy Joel, Freddie Mercury, Pink, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, Paul McCartney, Sting… Etc. Some rap songs are amazing lyrically. Eminem is great, so is Snoop Dogg, Diane Warren is a great writer, Ray Charles. So many really.
Have you ever written a song for someone else?
Yes. I love to do that. I wrote lyrics that were put to music by other composers. I wrote complete songs a well for others. I like to tailor a song to someone’s voice and psyche; spend time with an artist and getting to understand where they are coming from and what they want to express.
Folks can join your email list on your website. How many times per month are you emailing them and what sort of content can people expect to find in your communication?
I send very few emails. Certainly not every month. Maybe once every six months or so. We all get a lot of emails. I think time is the most important commodity we all have. I save the opportunity to communicate with people for important occasions. I also like to get feedback on new songs from the people who have signed up. Sneak previews if you will. I value people’s time. I am grateful they are willing to sign up.
What can fans expect to experience during a live performance?
Fun! A great escape. An opportunity to leave their worries behind. A lot of energy. I would like to think anyone who comes to a live performance can walk out energized and full of hope, with a desire to live life to the fullest.
You’ve written a lot of songs over the years. Do you have a favorite?
Yes. The one I am working on now. It’s a funny thing. It takes a lot of energy to write and record a song. Once it’s done it am exhausted. Then a new idea arrives and won’t leave me alone. But, it also revs me right back up. I am most excited about finishing it and record it as I hear it in my head. I have new songs waiting for me to get to and I can’t wait to finish them.
Speaking of live performances, do you have a tour planned in 2017?
We are working on it but no dates have been finalized just yet. I am working on new songs and I would like to have a full album completed before starting a tour.
What is your favorite venue for live music in NYC?
I love The Bitter End. It’s intimate and has so much history. The sound is great and you can see everyone in the room from the stage. It’s the kind of living room I’d love to have. I would have people over all the time.
Have you ever made a mistake while on stage?
I don’t know of a time when I didn’t make mistakes while on stage. I am always more excited and energized by new and different ways to perform a song. I love to improvise. Which makes performing a song the same way every time a bit binding. But for the most part I make mistakes because I am human and certainly not perfect.
Where can people buy your new EP?
It is available on the Star 1 website of course (http://star1ent.com/jay-elle/audio) and through all the major digital distributors, including Amazon, iTunes, etc. There are links to these on my website (http://www.jayelle222.com/).
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I went to see a group of New York singers, including one of the Roche sisters, singing Christmas carols under the arch in Washington Square Park a couple of days before Christmas. It was wonderful. Many people joined in, it was freezing cold. I had a great time. That’s what a concert should be. People coming together and singing along.
What’s next for Jay Elle?
Writing new songs. Doing interviews. And preparing for upcoming shows.
In all of the interview I do, I always let the artist have the last word. Go.
Thank you for the opportunity and the very interesting list of questions. Thanks to all the music lovers for being out there. I am grateful when someone spends 3 to 4 minutes listening to a song of mine. Time is the most precious commodity we have as I may have mentioned. I do my best not to waste the time people grant me by striving to be the best writer, singer, and guitar player I can be. I hope you enjoy the EP.