Justin Jay talks ‘Fantastic Voyage (The Album!)’ and the genesis of Justin Jay & Friends [Interview]
Justin Jay‘s Fantastic Voyage (The Album!) so far has been just that — an introspective look at his journey as a musician and the pervasive nature of his sound. Breaking into the scene at an early age, it was the product of sheer determination, persistence, and skill that led to his first song being signed to Dirtybird via a SoundCloud demo during the first week of his freshman year of college. Since then, Justin has continued to put out a stream of quirky house tunes but rather than confine himself to a singular style, he’s afforded himself the luxury of musical freedom.
“The process of putting myself in a creative box limited my ability to make good music, it also made things way less fun. Once I allowed myself to be totally fee to make anything, things started to click and I started getting lots of new songs signed. More importantly than anything else though, it helped me have a lot more fun, which is what making music is all about.”
This overarching quest for fun is perhaps one of the catalysts that lead to the inception of Justin Jay & Friends. When he met Josh Taylor and Benny Bridges early on in college they all found a common bond in music. Their musical preferences, however, were quite different, ranging from jazz guitar to ukulele and electronic. Out of the desire to foster his burgeoning music career while also spending time with friends, Justin Jay & Friends began during his last semester of school.
Justin has since graduated, made a number of festival appearances, and embarked on a trans-continental tour. Now he’s gearing up for his debut album, Fantastic Voyage (The Album!), and has opted to support its eclectic nature by siphoning the tracks out into multiple EP’s split among a variety of labels.
“The reason why we decided to break up these songs on different labels is cause they are all so different from each other, but I think if you listen to the album from top to bottom it’s still really cohesive because everything was made between the same four dudes – me, Josh Taylor, Benny Bridges, and occasionally my homie Henry Was, who’s a drummer, and my other homie Ulf Blonde, who’s a producer.”
Part 1 and Part 2 have already been released in full, with the former coming on Black Butter and the latter on Freerange. The standout track so far comes in the form Justin’s re-imagination (JJ’s Late Nite Dub) of one of his older hits, “Karma.” When he was first asked to create a club mix of the song, he was hesitant as he felt the track was totally done. After multiple scrapped iterations, he started playing around on his electric piano and suddenly everything clicked. “I just feel so much energy behind it when I play it at the right time, it’s super super satisfying. That song is my favorite song to play in my sets off the album right now.”
Now it’s time for Part 3 and Part 4 of the album, with a special treat at the end. The first song from Part 3, “Let Go,” has just been released on Soul Clap Records and it’s once again a chance of pace, as Justin valiantly forays into pop.
Switching gears once again, Part 4 will find its home on Lee Foss’ new label, Repopulate Mars. To bring everything full circle, Justin noted that “one of the last songs that’s a part of this collection is coming on Dirtybird, a song with me and my crew of homies and it’s called, ‘Broke The Law.'”
So with all these different sonic directions, what exactly is to be expected from Justin Jay sets? Remarking on his upcoming appearance at BangOn!NYC’s ELEMENTS Music & Arts Festival in mid August (after his album’s complete release) Justin stated, “Brooklyn is so much fun to play because people are down for some really weird stuff.” And even more, what he loves about these niche, immersive festival experiences is the connection that’s built between the DJ and the crowd. “The smaller the space, the more the intimacy, and the more intimacy, the more trust there is between the DJ and the audience. I want the kid next to me to be feeling it as much as the people in front of and the people behind me.”
For Justin, when all is said and done with the album, the fantastic voyage has really only just begun.