Jay Johnson

by the partae
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I’m currently based in Shoreditch. The music scene here’s pretty lively. There are loads of little bars and a bunch of big venues as well, especially around Brick Lane. There’s a road called Kingsland Road that stretches from Old Street to Stokey which is the main strip with lots of venues. The music quality’s pretty decent as well. Every now and then I’ll stumble on a new artist at a venue and add them to my playlist.
Your new 5 track EP ‘ In My Head ‘ is not out, what influenced sound and songwriting for this EP?
 
The sound of this EP was still influenced by a lot of folk artists. All the tracks have guitar on them, and the first track is completely acoustic. The rest of the songs are more clearly influenced by the kind of 90s hiphop I grew listening to before I fell into playing the guitar and making folk music. The songwriting was influenced by my experience, and my lifestyle, accompanied by the thoughts that pop into my head. The songs all have very different themes. One’s quite political, another’s about my thoughts on social media, and one’s a popular fairytale told from the point of view of a neglected character. There’s also a song about social anxiety, and another on education.
 
Where can we buy / listen to ‘ In My Head ‘ ?
 
It’ll be out on iTunes, Spotify, and similar services. At the moment the first single Sunkissed is on my Soundcloud.
 
Where and when did you record?
 
I recorded the whole EP in my flat. It took me some time to finance all the gear I needed, and put together a humble, makeshift studio, but once that was sorted I did it all between working odd jobs, putting on events, and living the lifestyle that I wanted to reflect in my music. It took a lot of late nights, and there were a lot of times where I’d fall asleep at my desk, but I feel it was worth. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out.
What equipment / programs did you use?
I used Logic as my DAW, and I also used my AKAI controller play sounds and drum samples I got off the internet. I spent a lot of time going through samples for this EP. I tend to get quite pedantic when I’m choosing my sounds, so recently I started sampling my own sounds.
How did you first start playing music?
 
I started off playing music when I was 8. I started getting cello lessons and played a lot of classical music growing up. I was in a bunch of orchestras and I played in some nice halls. I did that for 10 years. When I was 10 or 11 I started writing a lot of poetry, and that’s where my songwriting developed. At 13 I started teaching myself how to play guitar, at which point I discovered that the (sometimes boring) aspects of classical music were useful when learning a new instrument and trying to write music.
 
Who influences your style and who are you listening to at the moment?
 
A lot of my style is influenced by people like Chance the Rapper, Ben Howard, and J Cole. At the moment I’m listening to artists like Anderson .Paak, Daughter, Caleborate, Rex Orange County, Noname, and Michael Kiwanuka, Childish Gambino, Cosmo Pyke, Isaiah Rashad, IAMDDB, Loyle Carner…the list goes on for quite a bit. I go through a lot of new music on a daily basis, and I’ve got a note on my phone which is just filled with artists and bands I still need to check out. I don’t think I’ll ever get through it because it’s in the hundreds, at least it means I’ve got enough new music to last me for a while.
You put on events for AirBnB abnb.me/EVmg/QA7WJdxvtE , please tell us about this: 
 
So I put on experiences for people who use AirBnB to travel to London. The idea is that when people get somewhere new, the first thing they wanna know is what’s good to do there. So I put on experiences in which I host, perform, and showcase an artist I like, all in an intimate venue of my choice, which is usually an underground bar or venue. I’ve been doing this for like a year now. Mine was the second music experience to go live in London, and now there’s a bunch of them up. The people who book are mainly travellers from around the world, but my experiences are open to anyone.
 
I hear that you have also started working on your first album in which you’ll be looking to incorporate a bit of jazz, do you have an idea of what we can expect from your upcoming album?
 
Yeah I’m looking to jazz things up with the first album. I think it’s already happening without me know because I have been listening to a lot of jazz lately. A mate of mine introduced me to some of the old jazz cats like Art Tatum and Sonny Rollins. There’s also a wicked jazz band called Sons of Kemet who recently dropped an album called Your Queen Is A Reptile. Needless to say, it’s dope.
 
What do you have planned for the rest of 2018?
 
I’m probably gonna spend the rest of the year relaxing. I’ve been working really hard recently, and have been on the edge of burning out, so I think I need to chill for a bit. After that I’ll start prepping to record my first album.
 
Favourite food and place to hangout?
 
My favourite meal at the moment is a vegeterian English breakfast. There are two cafes who make it just how I like. One’s called Half Cup in Kings Cross, and the other’s called The Premises in Shoreditch. I’m also partial to bagels, and as I live close to the famous bagel shops in Shoreditch, the temptation is sometimes too hard to fight…especially because they’re open 24/7. Also a big fan of ackee & saltfish, and the Nigerian cuisine I grew up with. I like hanging out around Brick Lane. When I get bored of that area though I head back down south to where I grew up. Any excuse to go back to Peckham or New Cross is a good one for me. Peckhamplex is also my go-to cinema, and I like checking out new records around Rye Wax. Every so often I’ll also head down to Canavan’s for a game of pool with some mates.

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