Hailing from Finland, but now based in Germany, Sir Jay is a singer, songwriter and producer who recently released his debut EP Big Waves. Inspired by the opposing forces of urban claustrophobia and the openness of nature, Sir Jay explores the effect they have on human experiences in modern society. Sir Jay took time out to chat with us about Big Waves, discovering new music and much more!
Why did you decide to enter the music industry?
For the love of music and for the love of performing. To express and to challenge myself. To communicate with the world and to create meaningful moments and memories for myself and for the others.
Can you tell us about your EP Big Waves?
Big Waves is my first EP and I started writing it a couple of years ago. It’s an album about summer, going with the flow, communication and solidarity, love, hiding from responsibility and the importance of nature. It was produced and recorded in Finland during the long and dark Nordic winter.
What was the recording and writing process like?
The oldest song, ’Forest House’, was written in London in 2017 and it came to me very easily. I was very open at that time, inspired by the new home city and a new direction in my life. During that year, I tried out many different musical genres and wrote a lot of songs to understand which one works the best for me.
After moving back to Finland in 2018, I started to share a recording studio with my to-be producer Markus Savijoki. I spent half a year learning production and recording techniques and kept on searching for my musical identity by recording demos.
In January 2019, I felt like I’m onto something when suddenly all the other four EP songs came to me all in one month. I think it’s because I had changed my songwriting process by focusing on the rhythms and using that as a new guideline. For example, ‘Partner in Crime’ came very easily after building a groovy beat with a 7/8 rhythmic pattern. I was excited about this new idea and wrote ‘Mid July’ the same week with a 9/8 rhythmic guideline. ‘Big Waves’ was a 12/8 song and ‘Hello Love’ 5/8. At that point, the songwriting process felt more like a play, which is exactly how it should feel.
Recording and producing was an interesting process for me because it was the first time to be fully responsible for the outcome. Luckily, Markus was guiding me through the jungle and helping me out when I felt stuck. We started the production by recording drums with my old band member, drummer Oskari Järvinen, and building all the other layers on top of the beats. Later I also asked by bassist Iiris ‘Ippi’ Arjanne to play the bass lines and Markus to add some synths. It was really nice and easy to work with my old band members as we know each other so well.
Finishing all the tracks took around two months. The hardest part was to tell when the production was ready, but at some point, I noticed that I had to start polishing the tracks instead of adding new layers. Once polishing was done, the songs were done.
Does the single ‘Big Waves’ have any significant meaning for you?
‘Big Waves’ tells about hiding from responsibility. The message works in many different contexts, but for me, it has a political message and it’s written to activate all the passive privileged people and to make people understand the consequences of their actions. Sound-wise it ties the whole EP together with its playfulness and it was fun and easy to write.
What do you hope people take from your music?
I hope people feel relaxed, happy and powerful, become open-hearted to the world and think more about other people. I hope that people listen to the arrangement to hear all the cool riffs and musical layers we have come up with.
What is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?
Lyrics are definitely more challenging. Melody comes very easily to me, but lyrics are usually a battlefield.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I watch gigs on YouTube or go see live performances. Open mics are really inspiring. Sometimes I have to remind myself of my goals and achievements, go for a run, talk with other musicians and listen to new releases. A very good motivation boost for my songwriting is to write with other people or just to hang out.
How would you describe your sound?
Guitars are in a big role; fingerpicked acoustic guitar, distorted electric guitar, a lot of riffs. Handclaps are important for the groove and for the organic atmosphere. Everything is slightly distorted which gives the tracks a warm summery feel. My vocal sound is quite soft and I love backing vocal harmonies.
What do you think is the best way to discover new music?
Going to live concerts or just seeing who is playing at the local venues is probably the nicest way to find new artists. Reading blogs and reviews is a great way to challenge your taste. Spotify is great for knowing your musical taste inside out and helping you discover new music.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m focusing on recording my debut album this year, collaborating with as many musicians as possible and playing live gigs in my new homeland Germany. Despite Corona, we have so far a few gigs coming up in Helsinki and one in London at 93 Feet East Club on 9th October.
Do you have a message for our readers?
Life is short, remember to have fun every day. Remember who you are and where you’re going to.