‘One Night’ With Jay Sean
Jay Sean is the melodious voice
behind many of favorite tracks such as “Eyes on You,” “Stolen,” and “One Night.” But who really is this British boy, trying to make a move in the music industry? Though he may be miles away from India, Jay Sean is prime when it comes to fusing together Bhangra music and Punjabi lyrics impeccably with a flavor of contemporary R&B and Hip-Hop styles. Many people who admire this amazing vocalist don’t know that Jay started his hobby of rapping at the age of 11, when he was part of a band called "Compulsive Disorder," with his cousin Pritpal Ruprai. Jay went by the name MC “Nicky J,” and eventually "Compulsive Disorder" later gained the attention of local radio station DJs. Jay later went to a private -school for boys and gained a place at Queen Mary's School of Medicine & Dentistry in London to train as a doctor. After two years Jay Sean secured a one million pounds record deal and left Medical school to pursue his Musical career. As many South Asian artists, the only obstacle to frequently catch Jay’s attention was his race rather than his music. But he never let that affect his musical expertise.
"One Minute" was the first full track Jay had written himself. It ultimately landed in the hands of British Asian Music producer Rishi Rich. Rishi heard the demo and asked Jay to come to the studio, and got him to do an impromptu performance in front of the 2Point9 management. Jay quickly became part of the 2Point9 team, working with Rishi and Punjabi Singer, Juggy D during the summer of 2003. As Jay Sean dug deeper into the music industry, he confidently articulated his love for R&B music. 2004, without a doubt, was the biggest and brightest year in Jay’s musical career. His debut album, “Me Against Myself,” topped the Top 30 of the UK Albums Chart for one week, while his first two singles managed to break the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart.
But the UK wasn’t the only place where Jay was applauded for his musical endowments. He was also a smash-hit in India, where his album sold more than 2 million copies. And if that wasn’t enough for India, he also made a special guest appearance in the Bollywood movie, “Kya Kool Hai Hum,” providing them with a rocking song on the soundtrack, "Dil Mera (One Night),” performed by Jay, Juggy D and Veronica. In February of 2006, he split with Virgin Records for a variety of reasons. This, however, did delay the release of his new album; nonetheless, 2Point9, is ready to progress with his new album, which will include "Maybe" and "Ride It" both produced by Alan Sampson. The video for his new single “Ride It,” was shot on the August 12th, 2007, in the Central London nightclub, MoVida; and on October 9th, it was officially released onto the internet in full by 2Point9Records.
Though Jay has faced the turbulent ups and downs of the music industry, he took each hurdle as they came, and quickly overcame them, exposing to everyone the true artist within him, and surpassing himself each time with the release of new singles. Having met Jay the first time in 2006, I realized what a down-to-Earth person he truly is. He has a certain charisma which surrounds him all the time and his persona is more inviting than any other artist I’ve come across. I recently had the chance to re-live those amazing moments with Jay, as we discussed his melodious past, harmonious present and pleasing future.
Tirusha: Jay, I have to say that it’s been amazing watching you grow as an artist. I remember when we first met, you had this humble attitude surrounding yourself and I see that still hasn’t changed. You’ve topped the charts and are internationally known, but you haven’t let that get to your head. I applaud that the most about you.
Jay Sean: Thank you Tirusha, it means a lot! I know you had to wake up early and I appreciate that a lot. Thanks for all your support!
Okay Jay, let’s get straight into this interview! Rishi Rich helped to get your foot into the door and he’s been associated with major mainstream names such as Craig David, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and Mary J Blidge. How has your journey been with Rishi and where do see it headed in the future?
Rishi is amazing! It’s like working with your closest friend. We’ve been together for three years and we’ve been through a lot. We’ve both grown and he respects my needs to diversify and I respect his needs to put his creativity into other projects. We’re bros and we’re supportive of each other.
Do you feel that there are unneeded stereotypes placed on Asians in Europe or in the U.K.? Because of that, do you feel there are stigmas fixed to being an Asian musician?
I think stereotypes do exist. It’s more a case of ignorance and the fact that people haven’t seen or heard us before. For them, we’re new people and all of a sudden they’re confused. It’s just music! On a PR/marketing level, they are new to this, but it’s like when new talent comes then they go crazy, like, “Oh my God, it’s an Asian artist, how do we market this person?!”
Tirusha: A lot of South Asian artists are on the verge of collaborations right now, it seems like that’s helping them get into the mainstream scene. Amar recently worked with Timbaland and Rouge did a version of their track with Juelz Santana. If you had the chance to collaborate with any mainstream artist and producer who would you want to work with?
I would love to do an R&B track with Ne-Yo or a collaboration with Justin Timberlake. Female artist would have to be Beyonce. MC collaboration would have to be Jay-Z and man, Eminmen would be a dream! Producer? Hmm. I would want to work with Will I Am, from the Black Eyed Peas!
Tirusha: Speaking about Timbaland, what was it like meeting him when he was in London?
He was mad cool. He has a totally different swagger. He was really cool and was like, “You’re like the Asian Justin!” It was a great compliment!
Tirusha: Being from the U.K., I am certain that you are very well aware of the growing urban South Asian music scene there. Are there any particular artists you feel have the talent to make it to the top? What about the urban South Asian scene in the States? Any particular artists there you would consider collaborating with?
I think there people coming in the next generation. That’s why I set-up my company, so that I can sign these people. You have to stand up against the Beyonces, Justins, etc., with the right mind-set. I’ve been hearing good things about people like ROUGE and I wish them luck. There aren’t many artists to choose from in regards to collaborations. But Thara is one of them. After her video with Fabulous and when she got signed by DJ Clue, I knew she was making moves. I met her in Miami and I was like, “Yo! We need to work together,” and since then, ‘Murder’ has got a lot of rotation.
Tirusha: Many people from the press have coined you the “Asian-cross over superstar,” and have said always put you up on a pedestal against Raghav. I know that recently you guys both attended the same event in NYC – so how do you react to such things which the press does?
It really makes me laugh. Raghav is an entirely different artist. He does Hindi and Reggae and I do R&B. I mean, IS the press really desperate for a story?! I’m sure though, when the 1st two black artists came out, they compared them too. It’ll happen regardless.
Tirusha: What is it like to be a role-model for the young South Asian generation who wants to make a career in the music scene? What advice do you have for these youngsters?
It’s always an honor to be a role model. Certain kinds think, Jay did it, and I realize my responsibilities and I need to represent me and my community. They think Asians are all the stereotypes, but we’re just as talented and we’r e the same people. I’m trying to show people I’m Indian and proud, but I’m also a 1st-generation British-born and want to be proud that I’m representing them too. I need to put out quality music and videos. It all needs to be polished. If you want to enter this scene, it’s not a walk in the park. It’s a tough, tough game. You have to step up in every department. If it’s your dream, there’s nothing more gratifying than living it.
What has been your most memorable musical highlight so far?
Oh gosh! One of them would be performing on “Top of the Pops.” They’ve had the best of the best, from Michael Jackson to Stevie Wonder to Mondona. I’ve performed on there three times, so it’s one of the most memorable. Another would have to be in Japan, when I opened up for Ne-Yo with Thara.
Alright Jay, time to get into the main course! You’re about to release the single for “Ride It,” which is one of the hottest tracks on your new album. Tell us about the new album! We are all anxiously waiting! What can your fans expect to hear? Who’s produced it? Who else is going to be featured on it?
I like to pay attention to lyrics. If you have three minutes, don’t waste it on rubbish. It’s the opportunity for people to hear your words. I respect that fact that I have this opportunity. There are a million and one ways to say something and I try to tell a story.
The album is titled, “My Own Way.” The album is my little baby. I worked on it for three years. I wanted to work on something perfect. I would rather have three albums in 10 years because people will appreciate it more and I want to look at it and be proud. I must’ve gone through 50 songs, which I’m not using. Half the songs are written in NYC with JRemy, who has wored with Usher and Mario. I learned a lot from him. Seven tracks are also produced by Alan Sampson. Nobody knows him but I knew he was so sick!
Hopefully I can look back and hear a song from this album and be like, “Damn, it still sounds hot!”
Jay, it’s been more than a pleasure speaking with you, and I hope we can do it again, and much sooner! So, the last and infamous question: any last words for your thousands of fans and the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?!
Thank you Tirusha for waking up early in the morning to do this interview! It’s been great speaking with you again! I really want to thank everyone from SimplyBhangra.com for this opportunity. More than anything, I want to thank all my fans for their support till this day. I make music for you guys and lots of love and respect. Make sure you visit my website, www.JaySean.com and my OFFICIAL MySpace page, www.myspace.com/jayseanbeats. Look out for the album, “My Own Way,” releasing soon!