Jay Elle - 10 Questions Music Interview
Jay Elle is a singer, songwriter and guitar player currently residing in New York City. His music encompasses elements of pop, country-pop, Americana, and singer-songwriter genres. He learned guitar at a young age then went on to study music at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. After graduation, he joined a band and was quickly immersed in blues, rock, jazz and pop. Living in New York City opened a lot of musical doors for Jay Elle. After meeting singer/songwriter/producer Margaret Dorn (Boz Scaggs, Judy Collins, Rosanne Cash), Jay Elle was soon playing guitar on her albums and co-writing songs with her. He also worked with Bill Aucoin, best known for managing Kiss and Billy Idol. In New York, Jay Elle formed a jazz ensemble with composer/guitarist Byron Estep, who is best known as the executive director of Blue Man Group. Jay Elle’s time in NYC also lead to working with John Dubs (Front 242), who was instrumental in honing his production chops. In 2017, Jay Elle released his first EP of original music, the critically-acclaimed 'Rising Tide,' produced by veteran engineer Warren Schatz (Evelyn “Champagne” King, KC & The Sunshine Band, Vicki Sue Robinson). Currently, he has a new EP, 'Ease Up.'
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
As far as I can remember I always enjoyed listening to music of course, but more specifically I would get this spine tingling feeling when I heard certain songs. It's a wonderful sensation. I also was energized by certain songs. I would feel this blast of energy and feel like I could do just about anything. I felt hopeful and positive. So, I started playing guitar and singing and writing to see if I could write songs that would have that effect on myself and other people and pass on this positive uplifting energy.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I can't think of anything crazy. Overall, I would say that nothing ever happens as I plan it. Opportunities seem to come out of the blue. It's like the "career" is in charge and finds you when it wants. I put a lot of time and effort in writing, recording, and promoting my songs to the extent that I can but these steps rarely lead to where I am hoping they will. I am never in control it would seem. I heard a high level music executive say "the music industry chose me." I look forward to the future for unplanned connections and opportunities.
What has been the high point of your music path?
The release of my new EP, Ease Up, has been very exciting. The EP has received lots of positive reviews and the first single "Ease Up (Into Love)" is charting on at least 4 New Music Weekly charts, including reaching number 4 on the Digital Country chart. I am so grateful for the way the song has been received. The feedback from reviewers and listeners is that the songs from the EP have great melodies and grooves. They find it refreshing. They like my voice and the how I arrange the guitar parts. The songs are well written, dynamic and the messages are optimistic and uplifting. I am humbled by the feedback. It's uplifting and inspiring. I am writing new songs for my next release. A lot of the credit goes to Brent Kolatalo for mixing and mastering the songs in a superb way. He is brilliant.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Writing is a daily routine for me. I spend as much time as I can playing guitar and singing and trying out ideas, writing down lyrics. Then some of these ideas stick around. They keep running through my head and I develop them further. When I get really excited about them, I record them. I felt I had a handful of great songs that I could share with the world. Time is the most precious commodity there is so what leads me to release new songs is my conviction that I won't waste the listeners' time when they listen to them. With "Ease Up" I wanted to share optimistic and positive messages and talk about moving on from situations that may not be perfect or not working out at all. There is enough negativity around. We should keep in mind that negative headlines get us going. Some folks out there know how to push our buttons. We don't have to get roped in. I am optimistic about the future. I wanted to share that view. The songs are groovy and hopefully will get listeners going when the world around them seem to be going from bad to worse.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Great question. Indie artists are small businesses. Not every restaurant will become a successful national chain. Like all small businesses we have to take care of everything on our own, including, of course, funding. Finding opportunities to connect with potential fans is one of the many challenges. The work that indie bloggers and reviewers do is critical. Without them we wouldn't have much of a chance. The music industry has always been extremely competitive. The Internet and technology advances have made some steps easier but have brought in new challenges. There is very little chance to make money from streaming as an Indie artist. I understand the convenience of subscribing to a streaming service from a consumer's standpoint. The music you love anywhere, anytime on any device you like. But where a fan sent to a streaming service can become a lifelong customer of that service, that fan rarely will listen to one or a few of your songs 1,000 times. And if that fan does listen to your songs that much, you will receive about $4.00 and will have to pay the collection agencies their percentage on that money. As an indie artist, I hope for that magical song that will get everybody talking and everybody playing it. I am not that in tune with developing publicity stunts or creating newsworthy controversy. I am a songwriter. I create songs. They are the products. That's all I have to offer. But some artists rise up. That's wonderful. And that's the nature of the music business. In my humble experience, the music industry faces the same challenges, regardless of how much more money labels have to spend compared to indie artists. The success rate of an average label is pretty small. If the public does not gravitate toward a song or artist there is a limit to what can be done. The public decides. And that's the way it should be. It's hard to imagine converting a classical music lover to a heavy metal fan no matter how many great reviews and money spent on radio promotion, etc. As a consumer of all sorts of products myself, I reject 99.9% of them. I don't have a car. Do you know how many car commercials I have seen in my lifetime? And all the cars I see on the streets and roads day in and day out. I am writing songs because I can't stop being inspired. I love it. It's a great feeling to write a great song. I hope to pass on that feeling to listeners. To the extent that some folks will get to hear my songs they will decide to talk about them and listen to them often, or just once, and play these songs for their friends and everyone they know. We'll see what happens.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
What a great question. There are so many. I would have loved to play with Derek and the Dominoes. So much to learn from that album if you like playing guitar. I would also love to play guitar for Sheryl Crow or Katy Perry. Different artists and songs. Sheryl has great guitar tracks on her songs. I am thinking that Katy might appreciate more guitars.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsals are fun. A live show is about connecting with the musicians on stage and the audience. Preparing for that is all about enjoying playing the music and focusing on having a great time. No smart phone can capture the vibes. Each audience is different. Each room is different. You have to be there to feel it and enjoy it. There are some amazing pictures where you see almost everyone in an audience with their phones out taping a show. I am pretty sure no one captures the emotions put forth by the performers. I hope the people recording don't miss out too much. I can't film a show and enjoy it at the same time.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
They all have their challenges in my experience. And it can take a while before a song is completed. It's like it has a voice of its own and keeps telling me that it's not ready. Until, eventually it's done. I have songs that I wish I could complete because I love the lyrics and/or part of the music but something is just not right yet. And I don't know what that is. My single "Ease Up (Into Love)" took a while to finish, especially the bridge. I wanted something different. The arpeggios and key changes finally materialized and I could not tell you how that came about other than just staying with it until that voice said "okay."
What's coming up in the future? Thank you for asking. I am focused on promoting my EP, Ease Up, for the next few months. I have read somewhere that promoting a record can last up to 18 months. I am also writing new songs. It takes a while to come up with 6 to 10 songs that I can feel very strong about.
Tell us where fans can access your music?