Mix & In Conversation: Jay Sound
Very excited to have Jay Sound back with us at Halcyon Wax in 2021. After putting together an eclectic playlist of his influences last year, he's now curated a mix of nearly 100% of his own tracks which were inspired from those very selections. This truly is a special mix, it's super detroit, has some lovely chunky basses, is packed with silky keys and pulls on lots of Balearic influences:
We also had a chat with him about his incredible musical journey which started as a pro street dancer where he danced for detroit house legend Theo Parrish. After the sad passing of his father, who played drums for Parliament-Funkadelic, a band that were integral is shaping the sound of funk music across the world, he was inspired to continue his musical legacy. Find out more below.
Hey Jay Sound, thanks for chatting with us! Firstly, let’s talk about your musical journey. Where did it begin and who has influenced you? I imagine being from Detroit, a location that is so pivotal to the evolution of electronic music, that you take a lot of inspiration from such a location?
What up doe, good to finally chat with you all. My music journey started with my father Jabulani, I was raised waking up to Motown, Funk, New Age & Jazz hits on wax from The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Temptations, Earth Wind & Fire, Herbie Hancock, James Brown & many more among other Black Legends.
My father before I was born, was a drummer for Parliament Funk and toured with various jazz groups from what my mother has told me. So once I was a child I grew up seeing him produce and he taught me how to play electric bass at 6 years old covering famous bass riffs. So my love for percussion, drums & bass was birthed at a young age. Seeing how he would take me to music stores around Detroit and Michigan and steal the show on a drum set as a retired musician was amazing. So I owe it to my father for being the genesis of my love for music especially after losing him to Cancer when I was 11 years old.
Although my dad is my MAIN influence, my mother Joa also crafted me into the artist I am as well from putting me up on Hip Hop, Smooth Jazz, Classical & movie Scores.
Then fast forwarding to my career as a pro street dancer 09, I grew up in the clubs of Detroit so rightfully so I grew up on Ghetto Tech, Techno & Detroit House later on. Becoming good friends with Theo Parrish and even touring with him as a dancer over seas in Europe was a milestone and memory I’ll never take for granted. Seeing him & Marcellus work and create like it was breathing to them in Theos studio was what I always loved and craved. I started arranging music at 11 after the passing of my father because I wanted to keep his legacy going, so I started on this PS2 game called EJAY and made tons of music with it and learned about arranging music and tried looking for any software that allowed me to do that a young age.
As a DJ, tons of names come to mind that inspire me that I've danced in front of in the clubs of Detroit, from Jay Daniel, Kyle Hall, Omar S, Theo, Marcellus, Monty Luke & more. I truly owe my entire musical upbringing on my hometown, the magic and rawness that I was able to obtain and digest at a young age to adult before moving to the West Coast will forever stick with me in my DNA. What’s the scene like in Detroit currently? You’ve still got amazing artists like Kyle Hall, Omar S, as you already pointed out, who are making exceptional music but are there any other artists you can recommend? How does it compare to the late 80s, 90s scene?
How the scene is now i truly can’t tell you because I haven't been back in 3 years (Yikes), hate that is the reality lol. I miss home a ton, no place like it. I know the homie Waajeed has been really helping keep Detroit on the map from all he’s been releasing lately, and Omar is always on it, same with Kyle. As far as other artists to peep from Michigan, I'd say Alex Israel, Jason Fine, Ian Finkelstein & Deon Jamar. All 4 of them are all different but all Detroit. I can’t speak to how it compares from the late 80s and 90s personally because I didn't come into the scene until the mid 00s so for me I only heard stories from Theo & Cell of how it was.
2020 has been both bizarre and a very inspirational year, what have you taken from it? And what will you be glad to be leaving behind in 2021?
I don’t think there’s any accident 2020 has been the year [where] we all have been sat down and had to either look internally on our own shit or continue to ignore it. 2020 vision right? This year has been both a blessing and a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us I'm sure, especially me since I am an African American male in this world and society so I have to see things others can just ignore. BUT I do think it’s now giving us a chance to hit the reset button on life and society and make a better one for all to authentically thrive and acknowledge each other's differences and embrace them to truly come together.
So I'm taking growth, decolonization, liberation, radical honesty, accountability & healing from 2020. Leaving all that no longer serves me and inauthenticity behind.
Let’s talk a bit more about your music. I first discovered you when I was trawling through the depths of Bandcamp and stumbled across your ‘Palm Dreams EP’. ‘Midnight Love’ particularly spoke to me and is exactly the kind of music I adore, it really feels spiritual and special. Is spirituality something that is important to your production style? What other staples can we find in your production style?
That’s so wild you came across that particular EP because sonically I wasn’t anywhere I’m at NOW, then lol. So that's pretty cool it still captivated you. I am very much a spiritual person, more so internally however. But I wouldn’t say spirituality goes into my production style per say, but more so authenticity does. MY LIFE goes into my production style and since my life is not good vibes only lol. My music comes out the way it does because i go through a ton of shit, so it comes from the soul because it’s the only way I know how to create the art that i do.
Other staples I'd say are from nature, Palm Trees, Sunsets, Night Drives all play a monumental role in my production style.
What's your favourite piece of hardware to use?
Mmmm that’s a hard one. I have so many now lol and they all serve their purpose. But if I had to choose one, I'd say it’s my Novation UltraNova. Truly one of a kind, small in size but mighty in depth. Super versatile and I don’t know if you know yet but i'm a sucker for pads, leads and bass and it does it all 3 perfectly.
Last month you released your debut LP ‘Playlist to Paradise’. Can you tell us a bit more about your inspirations behind the release and how you put it together?
Ahh firstly I gotta say creating that world for the last 2 years was a hell of a ride, truly might be the most fun I have [had], maybe lol. But as far as inspirations I live on the west coast, so I'm in LA a lot (well not anymore due to Covid lol), but before I was and I pulled a lot of inspiration from what I saw, as well as living in Vegas too. Palm Trees, Sunsets, the cool breeze you get in the summer at night, the ocean sounds on the beaches, the warm sun when it hits your face, eating outside at a burger joint, dancing with your homies in a parkin lot late at night. All of that went into that project on top of my already early upbringing on 80’s films and scores. So I truly owe it my childhood growing up in the early 90s to living on the west coast to how “Playlist To Paradise” came to be.
I’m a very visual person by nature, so naturally if the music doesn’t match the name or vice versa it doesn’t hit as much because I can’t go there in my head so I wanted to make sure I created that down to every detail of the word for this project so the listener could truly escape to their version of paradise.
A big thank you for putting together a mix for us. I am very excited to be sharing this one on Halcyon, with almost 100 percent of tracks in the mix from yourself! What’s your favourite track in the mix?
Damn that’s tough one to answer for me because they all hit differently for me. I tried to really tell a story with this mix as much as possible or not only my work but my growth as an artist of sound. So I can’t even decide lol.
We are very excited to see what you have in store for us in 2021, can you let us know any plans?
Shit i’m excited to see what I have in store lmao. But all jokes aside, I have a ton of things in cue for this year. New singles, new bodies of work both small & large, even new mixes ready to be released as well. I've been working super hard the past 3 years to get me to 2021/2022 so yea, lots & lots of things I have ready to be dropped onto the world.
What 3 artists do you think should be getting more attention?
1. Osagie (That King Puts In Mad Work)
2.D.K. (Hella underrated)
3. Mar (If you love great R&B/Alt)
What other hobbies do you have apart from music production?
I love Comics, I'm a pretty big comic head/nerd (Mainly DC) but i love Marvel as well (Not just movies either, like Comic Comics). Collecting Vinyl (Thanks to Theo hahaha) & & Deejaying.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Probably listening to Rap lmao. (Not to be confused with Hip Hop because those 2 are different to me) but Rap music lol!
Jay Sound's 'Playlist to Paradise' LP dropped on the 1st of December and is available HERE.