Studio CarryOnHarry : Interview with New York based music artist Jay Elle , talks about his new album Ride The Wave and his journey as musician. Here he shares his set of experiences attained during his musical journey.
Tell us about yourself ?
Hello everyone. Thank you so much for the opportunity. My name is Jay Elle. I am a singer, songwriter and guitar player based in New York City. I write guitar-driven melodic pop songs, sprinkled with hints of folk, rock, pop and Americana, among other genres, including a little bit of classical music. I use a nylon string guitar on a few cuts of my new album “Ride the Wave”. The songs are full of energy, passion and witty lyrics, containing hopeful and powerful messages. On some songs I go for more intimate voice and guitar arrangements. Others have a definite rocking feel to them. All the songs have a story behind them. I wrote about them on my website “jayellesongs.com”.
How long you been in performing arts ?
I have been singing and playing guitar for over 20 years. I started writing a few years after that. I played in bands in high school. Blues and rock. I also studied classical guitar. As I learned more about guitar playing I discovered new music and writers. Regardless of the style of music, there are writers who can create wonderful songs and I thought that it would be great if I could learn how to do that.
What was most attractive part for you to be in this industry ?
I love a great show where the audience sings along. I’ve seen a number of bands at Madison Square Garden. Nothing like 20,000 souls singing along to a great tune. One U2 concert was phenomenal. The band came on stage and the audience stood up. Everyone. And no one sat back down until the end of the show. Bryan Adams was great too. I remember him walking to the microphone to start singing “Summer of ‘69” and then stepping back as the audience started singing from the first line of the song. He did not sing a word for half the song. He let the audience sing the song to him. You know he was having a good time. That kind of energy coming from audiences is just fantastic. That’s what playing live is all about.
Share some experiences ( good or bad ) any that made you grow in life or profession ?
Great question. I was lucky to study with some wonderful teachers. There are so many in New York City. Whether it’s vocal or guitar technique, you need to sharpen your skills as much as possible. A great teacher can really understand where you are and what you want to achieve and develop a path towards reaching your goals. More so than just practicing some scales. It’s important that teachers understand you as an artist and take the time to tailor exercises to your needs. Most recently I studied with Matthew Johnson at New York Vocal Coaching, Inc. He is excellent. As far as wisdom, I am constantly seeking to improve on all levels. Not just musically. Let’s see how that plays out one day at a time.
Who inspired you ? How do you work on creating your own signature style ? How do you analyze all this to be known as you and BE YOU ?
I listen to everything that comes my way. There are so many great musicians and songwriters out there. Some well-known of course and many talented folks I heard or had a chance to work with that have not reached the top of the charts, yet. I listened to every recording by Eric Clapton and Andres Segovia when I started playing guitar. I love the songwriting of Billy Joel, Freddy Mercury, Sting and Paul McCartney and many others. They’re great singers as well. I think Elvis is a great singer. These are obviously some of the titans of the music world. I’m enjoying listening to Niall Horan and Keith Urban. I think Pink is really good. I would not be able to pin down how each of these and others specifically influenced my work though. They all have in one way or another.
I also worked with great musicians in New York City. One of my co-writer is Margaret Dorn. She is on the Halfmoon Records and Publishing Label. Amazing writer, singer and piano player. And of course Caleb “kbc” Sherman, the producer of my new album “Ride the Wave”. Caleb did a magnificent job producing my songs. You have to listen to the album. It’s really, really good. Ideas come up almost every time I play guitar and sing.
I usually block time and focus on writing for a few weeks. I sort through these ideas and develop some of them further until I have a good pool of potential new songs. Then I narrow down the list further and lock down the melodies and lyrics. Then I record the basic tracks and select the songs that I think can make a great album or EP. I started this process again in January 2021. I was going to release an acoustic album, just my voice and one acoustic guitar.
Caleb “kbc” Sherman contacted me via Facebook. We hadn’t talked in a while. Eventually, he listened to 30 of my new songs and picked the ones that inspired him the most. We ended up with a 12 song album. Now, the focus is on promoting the album. I will still store up whatever new idea come up but I won’t block writing time for a few months. I listen to every piece of music that comes my way. I make a note of what really moves me, the type of music that gets me going. What makes me want to get up in the morning and play guitar and sing. Then I focus on that. You can’t call out what the future has in store. I do my best to get better at what I do.
What do you want to convey through your music?
Great question. I would say 3 to 4 minutes of total blissful escape every time people listen to one of my songs. I would love for listeners to get a burst of energy that transport them to a great place emotionally. I got into songwriting to recreate this exact feeling. It’s how I feel when I listen to a great song. I hope to pass this energy on to others through my songs.
Story behind making of your new track / Album?
I would like to thank the good people at Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Without them, my new album “Ride the Wave” would not have been written, arranged and produced. And I would like to give special thanks to Caleb “kbc” Sherman, arranger, mixer, producer and musician extraordinaire and to Paul Logus for mastering the album to perfection (http://plxmastering.com/).
The pandemic feels like one of those endless rainy days that I hated as a child. Boring!!!!! Back then, on rainy days I couldn’t go out. According to my mom, if I were to get my hair wet I would most certainly catch a cold. Apparently, everyone else’s mother thought so too. There was no one to hang around with on rainy days. At home, I was on lock down with the same old toys. No guitar then. No Internet… At least nowadays I can entertain myself with my guitar.
I go through the pandemic’s “endlesssssss rainy day” writing and recording new songs. I thought I’d release an acoustic album this year. Just my voice and my guitar. This sounded like a good plan until:
Facebook Message from Caleb “kbc” Sherman sent to Jay Elle on January 15, 2021
“Holy shit. I can’t believe it’s you! I’ve been thinking about you for all these years. Your music is awesome! I’ve been looking for you for a long time. I hope all is good with you, I’m doing good. Still music for me, I have a studio in Nashville where I live now, but I am in nyc all the time. I would love to see you and catch up. I can’t believe how long it’s been. I miss ya man!!!!”
Response from Jay Elle: “Hello Caleb. Glad you are doing well. Thank you for the kind words. Right back at you! I have visited your studio page and checked on you via Facebook now and then. Your work is brilliant. As I imagined it would be.
You always had fantastic ears, musicality and talent and a great brain as well. Congratulations on your achievements. I don’t “vacation” in the past much. Partly because I don’t have that great of a memory and also because I’m always busy with the next thing. But I have great memories of our work together. I’m doing amazing. Thank you for asking.” “By the way, what is your rate for producing a song?”
Caleb: “I have been looking forward to reconnecting with you for real. To answer your question about rates for producing tracks….if it’s your music….. I would be f*cking thrilled to work with you on your music for the same rate you charged my band ‘What’s Up’, to put up with 5 a**holes! Zero $.
I sincerely loved the tracks I heard of yours, and if you are set up to record at home, we can most definitely work remotely.”
Jay Elle: I was of course hoping that we could work on a track together. That would be a blast. Thank you for your generous offer. We can discuss it further in a few weeks. I am writing new songs. The first step would be to listen to the basic one guitar and lead vocal roughs and for you to decide if you are inspired by one of them. Then we can talk about the details. I just wrapped up writing the melodies for a bunch of them. I will be tackling the lyrics soon. Hard to tell for sure when I’ll have anything for you to listen to. But there is another reason why I asked about your studio rates. I worked with a gentleman named Michael Stover (http://www.mtsmanagementgroup.com/about/). I think he might be located in Nashville. I thought he might be a good contact for you. Michael did a great job with my last 2 releases in terms of getting reviews, etc.”
After this exchange I sent Caleb two older songs so he would have a sense of what I would provide to him: One lead vocal track and one acoustic guitar track. Within a few days, Caleb sent me this amazing arrangement and production of one of these two songs: “Twelve on Sunday”. Wow!!!! Caleb did a great job. I sent it to my best friend Philippe Blin who taught me a few chords when I first started playing guitar and has been listening to all of my songs ever since. He loved it. He is a great musician. He did not pursue a music career but has great ears.
I sent it to a couple of other people and the reaction was the same: Excellent! Eventually, Caleb arranged and produced the second song I had sent him: “Who’s Camille”. Same set up. I sent him the lead vocal track, the guitar track and he worked his magic around them. I sent these newly produced versions to a couple of radio promoters who had worked with me in the past and they were very impressed.
Radio Promoter #1: “These tracks are fantastic! Your last album was impressive, but these are a big step up in terms of songwriting and everything else, at least to my ears. I especially like ‘Twelve on Sunday’–you could have told me that was written by McCartney and I would have believed it. These would be great for AAA and Americana radio. When do you think the album will be ready?”
The second radio promoter tested the songs and “Who’s Camille” got 4 stars and “Twelve on Sunday” got 3 stars. Both these ratings mean that the songs are ready for radio. Around April 15 I finished writing 30 new songs. I asked Caleb if he was inspired by any of them. Caleb picked 10 and went to work. And the album sounds AMAZING!!!!!! About the songs: I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on social networks during the pandemic’s “endlesssssss rainy day”.
The title track on the album is “Ride the Wave”. My friend Jett Harris, with whom I recorded a few albums and countless songs, takes great pictures of surfers, among other subjects he focuses his lens on. (Instagram @jettt1209). I was inspired by these pictures. I think that much of what we do in life is ride one wave after another, as best as we can. Some waves are fun to ride, like recording a new album, and some are tough. Riding a pandemic is no picnic. But what choice do we have? I take life as it comes, and ride the wave. I take the point a little further in “Better Luck Next Time”.
As my friend Jett Harris reminded me: “Surfers are really cool interesting people and their philosophy on surfing is very similar to your analogy of waves and life. The adage “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation” is appropriate as you never know when you’re going to get the opportunity to ride that really great perfect wave, but you hope to be ready to take advantage of it. If not you’ll find sympathy in the dictionary between sh*t and syphilis.”
I also follow the Vampire Diaries lead actress Nina Dobrev. (Instagram @nina). I am a big fan. So, I wrote a song about my experience as a fan and follower: “Tequila Kiss”. I do think she is a terrific actress. If we ever meet, I would love to discuss how she prepares for a part. She is “all emotion”. And always very precise. And very entertaining, on screen and on Instagram. The other songs on the album have a lot of water and air references as Vivienne V. puts it. Vivienne has taken pictures for my website and the covers of my last few releases, including “Ride the Wave”. She is an astrology buff. She picked up on the power water and air sign I have in my chart and my preference for sunny days. “Morning Rain” shows my ever so optimistic approach to love and life, advising anyone who wants to hear it that things will get better, no matter how bad they may be. “Rainy Day” gets me dancing around my apartment every time I put it on. If there’s ever one way to pass the time through a pandemic, it’s enjoying the beautiful body of someone you love.
“Miss Mess” is a song that reflects on the strange “relationship” I developed with the TikTok algorithm while on lock down. I get served these incredibly entertaining posts by women from around the world. They are dancing, joking around, acting, shooting arrows, exploring beautiful sites, playing with their pets, venting about their boyfriends, playing pranks, flying helicopters, etc. They seem to be in total control of my life for 30 seconds or so. And there’s nothing I can do. Of course I could stop watching… But I am liking it. A lot.
There is always some “messy” elements to these posts. And some of these ladies are reckless and sometimes flawless in their recklessness. I love watching puppies. I had dogs. Cavalier King Charles. They all passed away, sadly. I wrote a song titled “Angeling™” in their memory. But TikTok doesn’t serve me a continuous stream of videos full of doggies for some reason. Just them ladies… Some of these ladies are pretty intense. You’ve got to see the gymnasts. Wow! And the military ladies. Intense. Some great actresses lip-synching to movies and TV shows dialogs. Very funny ones too. I don’t always understand the thrill of some of the stunts, like jumping from the roof of your house into your pool. But, to each her own. After all if there isn’t a “tsunami” hitting your shores, you may as well create one. Make a TikTok. The algorithm is working so well. So much so that it inspired another two songs: “She’s So Fine” and “Insane”.
I touch on a few other subjects in this album: “Angeling™” is a tribute to my departed puppies. What a life dogs live. Lots of time spent sleeping, but definitely acting like angels when awake… The song is also about lying down at night with the one you love. In “Want Me Bad” I tried to make the case that a relationship is a two way street. If you want someone to “want you bad” you should want them bad as well, as in “badly wanting”. Not just want them to be bad on occasion, or all the time, whatever floats your boat. As in “entertain me, be bad…” You get the gist of it. “Who’s Camille” reflects on the twists, the turns and the “fluidity” of love. “Twelve on Sunday” is about the daughter I don’t have, wondering what a father would feel like if his twelve year old ran away.
Any interesting trivia about making of song ? Hint : Brainstorming Idea / Recording hurdles / Sorting our any creative differences with your team etc
I write the melodies, lyrics and structures on my own. I write lyrics for other artists occasionally. It can take a while to complete some songs and others come up very quickly. It’s not consistent. A few notes usually peak my curiosity and won’t leave me alone until a full song is completed but I can go through a hundred ideas before something grabs me. Then it’s a tedious process of bringing everything together. It’s a process of weaving notes and words that complement each other. It’s great when it comes together but not all finished songs survive. Some of them just don’t quite make it even though I record a version with just the lead vocal and one guitar. Only a few of these get to the next step. That is a full blown arrangement with a band and finally getting recorded for an album or EP.
People who you would like to thank ? Hint : Critics / Supporters who brought best in you and today you want them to thank about your growth
First and foremost all the people who have taken the time to listen to my music. I am so grateful for their patience. Time is precious. Some have been generous to the point of sending me comments and helping out sorting through my ideas. It’s fantastic. I’d like to thank Caleb “kbc” Sherman who did an amazing job producing my latest album “Ride the Wave”. Caleb “kbc” Sherman is one of these musical geniuses. His arrangements are just mind blowing. He totally gets the feel for the songs. He plays many instruments really well. As a producer, he blends both musicality and recording techniques. It was a wonderful experience to listen to the songs after he produced them.
People who you would like to work with and people you idolize to be like professionally ?
I would love to write songs with artists that I think are amazing. There are so many too. I am really into Niall Horan’s work. I think Dua Lipa is great. Keith Urban, Maroon 5, Billy Idol, Christina Aguilera, Pink. The list goes on and on really.
Where do you see your music 3 years from now ? Hints : Your Dreams / Inputs that you are gonna put in to reach there.
I hope more and more people get to hear my songs. I’d like to bring big crowds together some day and have all of us sing along for an hour or so. That would be fantastic.
How would you like to stretch your boundaries of genre in future projects ?
I look forward to incorporating various styles into my songwriting. I have a song with a Latin feel on my new album. It’s called “Tequila Kiss”. It’s about Ms. Nina Dobrev. The wonderful lead actress from the “Vampire Diaries”. I have a song that is based on a waltz beat, “Want Me Bad”. I like to explore musical genres and bring things together in one cool song. The first single from the album is “Miss Mess”. It has a great groove and it’s full of clever parts, thanks to Caleb. It’s a lot of fun.
Message for Fans and listeners.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and stay safe. I need you. Stay positive and look forward to the future. Take good care of yourselves.