With BLESSmas ft. Jay Daniel around the corner we thought we'd dig up this interview that XLR8R had with Jay following the release of his debut LP - Broken Knowz
Where were you born?
I was born in DC, moved to Detroit at three, then moved to Maryland with my Dad for five years during high school. I then moved back to Detroit.
What were your first forays into music and production?
Well, my dad is a drummer and a big music head and so is my mom, she’s a singer and has been involved in the industry and likes all kinds of music. She has a real eclectic taste. Music has always been around me since an early age. I haven’t had any formal training or music lessons or anything like that, though.
So when did you meet Kyle Hall? I read that he was a catalyst to you getting more heavily into DJing and the house scene in general?
I met Kyle through a set of mutual friends who he went to high school with; I didn’t go to high school with Kyle but met him when I went back to Detroit.
I was already into DJing because of my mom actually. She put out that record in ‘93, so I was already aware of the culture of DJing but I was too young to get into it all before I moved back to Detroit. When I was younger, around 11, I met Carl Craig—before I moved from Detroit. My mom took me to meet him because I wanted to learn to DJ, but he was telling me about all the technical aspects of DJing which kind of deterred me. I was thinking, “This doesn’t sound fun at all.”
So DJing was the introduction. When did you start making music and producing?
It was 2013 that I started making music but I've been playing the drums since I was three years old because I played in my high school's gospel choir. I guess that’s when I first started “making music,” but it was 2013 that I started producing on my own, and soon after that I released on Sound Signature.
For an artist that is now quite well known in the house scene, there is scarce information online about you. Has that been purposeful? Do you not feel comfortable in the limelight?
It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable; it’s just that I haven’t released enough music for people to be hip with me as a producer. The reason I haven’t been releasing much music is because I’ve been deterred by the business side of the music industry. Getting into it can be nasty; well, not even nasty, but there’s a lot of politics involved. People like to put their feelings first and I don’t like that. If you’re doing better than someone, people tend to hate and they like to throw salt on your game. It’s really been an unconscious thing, self-defacing would be a term, and not dumbing myself down for the sake of others. It’s not productive or progressive.
Not long after those first few releases came your label Watusi High. Did you create that specifically for your own releases or other artists as well?
I definitely want to work with other artists too—releasing other artists and collaborating with other artists. I want to present not only my ideas but other people's ideas as well.
Will that be mostly Detroit artists?
Yeah, mostly artists from Detroit. I’m looking to release a few EPs this year on the label; one of them will be a collaboration with my boy Isamu, that’s one of the guys who went to high school with Kyle. We’ve been working on some stuff and it’s definitely not house music: it’s more world music, some hip-hop, just trying to defy genres.
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