An interview with chart topping talent Jay Elle

by | Sep 13, 2021

Jay Elle is an acoustic pop singer-songwriter who brings warmth and energy through diverse, well-crafted, “five star”, guitar-driven melodic songs. His soft inviting voice will uplift and soothe your spirits and his witty lyrics will provoke deeper thoughts about the world while sharing optimistic, positive, upbeat messages that will “have you carry on with your day with a smile”. The result is amazing success worldwide, including rave reviews by over 40 blogs, magazines, DJs and radio programmers (Press) and chart topping songs across multiple genres. 1 In Music meet the talented musician.

1 In Music: What is unique about you and your music?

Jay Elle [JE]: Great question. It’s definitely a unique blend of influences. I was born in France and grew up there. I lived right at the border between France and Switzerland, near Geneva. I went to school at the Conservatory of Music of Geneva. I studied classical guitar, singing and composition. Though I love Chopin and Bach, I also love Rock and Pop music and pretty much all styles. There are great Rap and Hip Hop songs. So, when you mix all these elements you get something fairly different. Nowadays, I strive to write great pop songs that would appeal to a large audience. My songs are melodic, guitar driven, often acoustic guitar, with lots of finger picking. I use a classical guitar on some of the tracks on my new album “Ride the Wave” produced by Caleb “kbc” Sherman. Tracks like “Tequila Kiss”, a song I wrote about Nina Dobrev, the fabulous actress from The Vampires Diaries TV series. Also, “Want Me Bad” is a classical guitar based piece. I use the classical guitar sound as a foundation, but the songs are totally rocking out. Caleb did an amazing job. I use a Martin steel string acoustic on other songs like “Angeling TM” and “Morning Rain”. I also put a lot of emphasis on having lyrics with hopeful messages and wit that makes them interesting. Rap is the perfect format for great story telling. Not always easy to do with a pop song. I keep things short and simple. My melodies have definite English Rock influences as well as French. The arrangements are alternative rock for this new album. It’s definitely a unique blend.

1 In Music: What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

JE: My passion for music started with my love for great pop songs. The songs that give you chills down your spine or goosebumps. I started playing guitar first before getting to singing and songwriting. But as a child before playing guitar, I was always moved by great pop songs. And I put lots of music in that category, from Queen to Chopin. There are pieces of music that just give you such great energy and take you to such a wonderful place emotionally. It occurred to me that perhaps I could learn to write songs like that or at least give it a serious try. I listened to everything Eric Clapton recorded. Talk about a great guitar player who also has great songs on his records. I am grateful for the support I received from my family early on and friends and now fans. I couldn’t do it without all of them.

1 In Music: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?

JE: In my late teens, when it was time to make a decision regarding where to go to college after graduating from high school. I had been playing guitar and singing for a few years. But once I started getting more into songwriting, I realized that I couldn’t stop. And whether or not there was a professional career in my future, there was no way I would quit.

1 In Music: What type of music do you listen to?

JE: I listen to everything that I can possibly get my hands on. I am open to all genres. In fact, I make an effort to discover new styles or certainly expand my horizons. I have my favorite types of course. If I want to have fun playing guitar, I’ll jam on a Blues song. Or, a fast heavy metal song. Jazz is perfect for fun guitar playing. Endless possibilities. Just let your fingers do the walking. I listen to great singer songwriters like Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Sting, etc. Elvis Presley is a great singer. It’s always inspirational to listen to these masters. I love Pink, Prince, Maroon 5 and lots and lots of others.

1 In Music: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

JE: One could make the case that all artists are undervalued. And all music artists. 

Music is everywhere in our lives if we choose to have it or even if we don’t. Rarely will you walk into a store or restaurant and not hear music. It’s in all the TV shows and movies we watch. I am sure that some folks prefer reading a book by a roaring fire place without playing recorded music, but the crackling of the fire is background music to their reading experience. Oftentimes, music artists and their work are taken for granted. It’s there, it’s everywhere, sign up for streaming 10 million songs on one service or another… Music plays a big part on how we feel. We might be more aware of it when we hear something that sounds horrible to us, or really moves us in a good way, but the rest of the time music contributes to us having a better day rather than a dull one. Music during our commute to work, at the gym, etc… A great song can definitely turn your energy around and uplift you.

I am glad that some music artists have gotten lots of accolades. Hopefully more will in the future.

1 In Music: How do you prepare for your performances?

JE: I practice regularly and of course very specifically depending on whether I am going to record or perform live. Guitar is a little easier as you can practice for hours every day. Singing is tricky. If you practice too much you wear out your voice. I need to be rested and drink a lot of water so that my voice is clearer and lighter. I imagine and visualize performing while meditating as much as possible too.

1 In Music: What other passions do you have beside music?

JE: I love to get some rest with easy crossword puzzles. I watch murder mystery shows and movies. I haven’t had the chance to go skiing in a long time but I certainly try to go play in the snow when there is any coming down. Not much in New York City lately.

1 In Music: And Success to you is…?

JE: [Success is] Making people feel great when listening to one of my songs.

If I can write a song that is going to give you great energy and give you chills or goosebumps then I have succeeded. If it goes further and you start dancing and possibly sing along then even better.

1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?

JE: I wish I were told that I should focus on what makes me happy musically. Unfortunately, the music business is a tough business where very few succeed financially and not always for very long. It makes sense for people who care for you to warn you and suggests you either do something else altogether or do things differently so that perhaps you can succeed.

I would recommend that you discover what you love about music.
What really moves you and focus on that.

Regardless of whether you can build a career around it or not has a lot to do with chance. In the meantime, do what makes you happy.

1 In Music: Jay Elle, many thanks for answering our questions. A last one for the road: Tell us about your current release and where can we find it?

JE: I am totally focused on promoting my new album right now.Ride the Wave” is a 12-song album with beautiful songs and lots of variety.

The pandemic shaped a lot of how his new album came to be and the songs that I wrote for it. I had planned to release an acoustic album, just my voice and my guitar. I wrote 30 new songs and recorded them in that format. I thought I could get a good album out of the 30. I pushed myself and explored various styles as I wanted the listening experience to be as interesting as possible. One voice and one guitar for 10 songs in a row requires interesting lyrics and melodies and guitar parts, in my mind anyway.
As I have been on lock down I have been spending time in front of the TV and on social networks. As I mentioned, “Tequila Kiss” is about Nina Dobrev (@nina), the star of The Vampire Diaries. The song “Ride the Wave” was inspired by pictures taken by my friend Jett Harris (@jettt1209) who posts great pictures of surfers riding waves. I thought that dealing with the pandemic was pretty much like riding a wave, a tsunami in this case. There is nothing you can do other than ride as best as you can. You can’t control the wave. Just ride and hope for the best and in the case of surfers have a great time.

TikTok is a great inspiration. You can thumb through lots of videos. It inspired “Miss Mess” the first single. Thanks to Facebook I reconnected with Caleb “kbc” Sherman who produced the album. It had been a while since we talked and worked together. I told him about my plan and he asked to listen to the 30 songs. He picked 14 and we ended up with 12 songs for the album. Caleb has amazing ears and brings together production techniques and musicality brilliantly. He feels the music so deeply and so well. That’s why I think everyone should listen to the album. It feels great. Caleb put together a mix of fast songs and slower ones. It makes for a great album. All of the songs are full of energy. And I get chills down my spine listening to them. It’s great work.

I really think it’s a wonderful album and that everyone should listen to it. Forget that it’s my songs and my voice. I really think it’s really, really good. Caleb “kbc” Sherman did such a fantastic job bringing the songs to life. It’s worth taking the time to listen for sure. “Ride the Wave” is available on all streaming platforms and in all digital stores, and of course on my website.