ARTIST NAME: Jay Elle
SONG TITLE: By the Blade
ALBUM TITLE: Ease Up
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2019
GENRE: AAA, Americana, Country Pop
My name is Jay Elle. I am a singer, songwriter, and guitar player. I write guitar-driven pop songs, most often appearing under the label “singer-songwriter” or “modern country-pop.” I live in New York City.
I spend as much time as possible writing songs, singing, and playing guitar.
I admire anyone who writes well-crafted songs from Cole Porter to many contemporary writers you can hear on radio stations and playlists today, in all genres. Of course, I have my preferences, writers who combine lyrics and music in very unique ways, and who are also amazing musicians and singers. Some of them have become legends for having penned classic songs: Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Freddie Mercury, Paul McCartney, Berry Gordy, Sting, Prince, etc…
Go into detail on why you decided to choose music as a career.
As far as I can remember I always enjoyed listening to ‘music’ of course, but more specifically I would get this spine-tingling feeling when I heard certain songs. It’s a wonderful sensation. I also was energized by certain songs. I would feel this blast of energy and feel like I could do just about anything. I felt hopeful and positive.
So, I started playing guitar and singing and writing to see if I could write songs that would have that effect on myself and other people and pass on this positive uplifting energy.
A great song can give you courage and strength. It can make the time go faster if you are on the treadmill and slower under other circumstances. I apply myself to writing songs for that purpose and pass on great energy to listeners. The songs we listen to make up the soundtrack of our lives, like a movie soundtrack. They are in the background or the foreground at different times and they support us as we go through life. Take us back in certain scenes, takes us forward in others.
Brief us the feedback you are getting from fans on your music.
We should always listen very closely to what the fans have to say. Overall they tell me they enjoy the songs and vocals. They love the guitar playing and the grooves. They appreciate that I keep the focus on the music and the lyrics. They love the messages in the songs. They enjoy how I use the guitar the way it sounds natural and how it works off the bass lines and the drums. Most often they refer to the positive feeling they get from listening to the songs.
Discuss the relevance of social networking to music.
Social networking is very powerful. It’s a great way to reach out to like-minded folks, audiences enjoying the same type of music. It is very helpful in building a fan base. You can never expect to win over everybody. Your goal is to find the people who share your approach to songs and music.
In fact, historically, if you appealed to teenagers, you were hated by their parents, most of the time. Reaching out to more people has always been about finding like-minded people rather than convincing everyone that they should, or will love your music. Social networking is a great way to achieve that.
Social networking can also expand your horizons. It’s up to you of course. Even if you are mostly connected to people who enjoy the same type of music there is always something new presented to you by your crowd. We all have musical tastes that are unique – Much like our fingerprints.
One of my playlists on Spotify has many different songs and instrumental pieces from Chopin to Cardi B. I find that every single playlist from people I connect with online has tracks I have never heard before. I love that! I enjoy the discovery process, the “musical adventure”.
I find that people are extremely helpful and generous with their advice and feedback.
Social networking gives us immediate access to people’s insights. It’s unique that way. Even if you have the opportunity to talk to everyone that comes to a live show, you wouldn’t have the time to engage in lengthy conversations in person. It’s definitely powerful.
Tell us how you record your song.
I don’t start recording until I have the song completed from the beginning until the end. That is lyrics, melody, and structure. I like for a song to be no longer than four minutes.
I record a new song live and then put it away for a while. I try my best to forget about it so that when I listen to it again, I react to it as if I had never heard it before (or just about). This first recording is usually just voice and guitar. If a song still moves me when I listen to it I move on to the next step. I work on the underlying groove – Whether I work with musicians or on my own.
It’s important to me to have a cool, laid back rhythm support that keeps the focus on the lyrics and the melody. Then it’s time to record the basic tracks, lead vocal, one guitar, bass, and drums. Then, again, I leave all of this alone for a few weeks or longer and do my best to forget about it.
Then I listen to the song and if I am still moved by it, it’s time to start another round of recordings.
It can take a while to get a final recording that way. I can spend hours trying out ideas. Eventually, it all comes together. It is a tedious process. I may end up using a guitar part that came up right away but I will try as many others as I can think of before I make the final decision.
My focus is always on supporting the message and the melody as best as possible. If something is cool but distracting or clearly doesn’t belong I discard it or save it for another song. The song is key. I try to eliminate unnecessary ideas.
Tell us the story behind the song.
“By The Blade” is about recognizing when a situation is never going to improve.
You can be persistent, it’s a great quality, but sometimes you have to admit that things are not going to change for the better. Mostly because the people you are dealing with are not going to change. Each situation is unique. So we should be careful to evaluate what’s best for us and not rush down a particular path.
In this song, I am pointing out that, sometimes, the only choice is to move on. I use the imagery of being the target on a spinning wheel, while the knife thrower keeps hitting you. In a vaudeville show, you expect the knife thrower to miss the target but get very close. That’s the thrill. Here a person is just causing you pain, intentionally or not, and it’s time to leave. Don’t be the target for too long. Don’t think you are tied to the wheel. If you’ve given a situation the chance you believed it deserved, feel good about moving on.
State your musical skills.
I started playing guitar when I was a teenager. I studied classical guitar, blues, and jazz, and listened to a lot of “guitar heroes”. It’s a lot of fun to improvise with a guitar. Between the rigor of rendering a classical piece as it was written, and the open field of blues or jazz improvisation, I feel that a pop song format is the best if you can bring some of these elements together in it, to serve a great melody and meaningful lyrics. I practice guitar daily.
I studied and continue to study singing. It’s a different world. You can play guitar for hours. Your muscles recover… You can get to play faster, etc.
With singing, you can tire your voice quickly so you have to practice differently. Your voice is highly impacted by lack of sleep, poor health habits. You can practice breathing on a daily basis but you have to find the routine that works best for your voice when it comes to singing. Too much singing is not necessarily going to work out.
I play a little bit of piano but I don’t practice. I have enough work to do to keep up with my guitar and singing skills.
Writing is a never-ending challenge. You can’t rewrite the same song over and over. That doesn’t work for me. Every time you write a new piece, you are starting from scratch. It requires practice as well. I give myself challenges. I try to write a song for a specific artist, completely different than me.
Tell us how long it takes to complete a song from the start.
My writing process is very consistent. I play my guitar and sing until something clicks. It can take a while before something gets my attention – From a few hours to a few days or longer. I record whatever snippet of music I find interesting at the time and get back to it later on. Something you find interesting one day may not hold your interest a few days later.
Then start the lengthy back and forth process of tying together the melody and the lyrics, factoring into that what sounds good vocally. It’s a tedious affair. It can take a long time, weeks sometimes, or even years. I have songs that somehow I can’t seem to bring to the recording stage. And yet, I can’t let them go either.
Go into detail on how you develop your lyrics and melody.
When a melody sticks around I “torture” it. I try to come up with something better. I replace some of the notes. I try to figure out why it’s grabbing my attention. Where it is strong and where it is a little weak. I change the key. I play it faster, slower.
Most of the time there is a lyrical theme that comes with the melody rather than the final words. For “By The Blade” I wanted to create a feeling of suspense in the verse. A simple line as we wait for the knife thrower to take aim. In the bridge, I wanted to give a sense of relief. Still, keep it simple because the decision to move on is a personal one. Keep taking the pain or not. You have to decide.
Practically, I use an online Thesaurus and Rhyming Dictionary and I search each line of a song on Google to see if someone used it in a song or a book. I’d rather be on the original side as much as I can. I certainly don’t want to copy anyone. I look at related words using online searches as well to consider other views on a subject. The most difficult part is to stay focused while developing the idea throughout the song. I prefer that approach to a more “stream of consciousness” writing process.
I spend a fair amount of time reading and researching. I read more about knife throwing than I ever thought possible.
Eventually, you have to make it all fit together, lyrics and music; this is where you just have to go with what works for you.
I pay close attention to the bridges in my songs. Most of my songs have one. I like to bring in a bit of a surprising element without being out of place. I usually experiment with key changes.
Most of the time, the lyrics get a final tuning when I record the vocals. Sometimes a word or line just doesn’t sing as good as I thought when all the arrangements are in. I usually have options in addition to the final draft, just in case – Extra lines, words that I couldn’t use initially.
Discuss the song in full detail.
“By The Blade” stems from playing around with a very common guitar pattern in rock/blues songs.
The twist is the inclusion of the C#7 right after the D chord to lead to the F#m – Then in the first bridge getting the release on the E chord. The second bridge takes you to another release in D this time. I also wanted a groovy slow rock feel to the song. There are cool sounding percussions throughout the songs mixed in. Yet, everything feels simple.
To me, the best songs have a great groove in addition to great melodies and lyrics.
Drums and bass and percussions play a vital role in getting you “swinging” to a song. It is a challenge to hold back in the right places so as not to distract listeners from the intended message. Where do you want the focus to be? Sometimes a bass line can drive a song, sometimes it needs to be minimal, yet support the groove. It’s easy to get overly excited, and who doesn’t get a jolt from a great drum roll, but if it’s going to clutter the lyrics, you are defeating yourself – At least in some songs.
There are many ways to arrange a song. In my case, I choose to feature guitars, drums, bass, and percussions. Not much else. That is of course to serve the melody and the lyrics. I use very light keyboard lines, sounding much like what you might hear in the background of a Vaudeville show for “By The Blade.”
State your favorite genres of music and reasons.
I listen to everything. Every song on every chart my songs appear on and other charts such as dance or rap or R&B, etc. I look at international charts as well. Then I look into the albums and listen to practically all the songs. I listen to fans’ playlists and others.
When it comes to guitar playing, I would say Eric Clapton and Andres Segovia. My songs are guitar-driven for the most part. I try to combine a little classical fingerpicking with some traditional pop song harmonies and some blues/rock in there.
So three genres there – Classical, Blues/Rock, and Pop.
As far as songwriting, I enjoy what I call the mash-up and collage approach of some of today’s writers. Yet, I lean towards traditional structures.
I am definitely in awe of the work of songwriters such as Billy Joel, Diane Warren, Berry Gordy, Paul McCartney, Prince, Sting, Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, and so many others.
Another couple genres I guess, Singer-Songwriter and R&B.
Writing and recording make you appreciate the work that goes into the process. So, regardless of the genre, I am conscious of the effort that the artists, musicians and producers, and engineers put into their work. My focus is on songs more than anything else. I can’t name all the writers. There are so many.
Discuss your rehearsal.
Rehearsing is fun. I find practicing fun and easy. Rehearsing for a recording session is more of a creative process. Rehearsing for a show is different. The goal is to get the songs so ingrained in you that you can go on stage and not think too much, or at all, but just perform and focus on the emotions you want to convey.
State your favorite musical instruments.
I am definitely a guitar player. I have a “writing guitar” which I use on a daily basis, that’s a Yamaha, Classical, nylon string guitar. I practice with it as well. When I record, I use a Martin Acoustic/Electric or an Ovation, nylon string, depending on the sound I want. For electric guitar parts, I use a Gibson ES-345. I use these guitars live as well depending on the type of shows.
Describe the chemistry between you and your fans during a live performance.
Total stage fright on my part – The more I learn and practice the more I realize that I have so much to learn and master. And I practice a lot!!! I don’t have a problem practicing at all. I just hope I will make progress soon.
I do my best to render the songs as fans got to know them. I prefer a performance that is close to the recording rather than not. Of course, live shows are very unpredictable.
The fans are supportive – Always. I certainly do my best not to disappoint them.
Discuss your personality in full detail.
My number one drive is curiosity. So, not only am I always listening to new music but I look into how it was put together. I try to understand how the artists came up with the songs. One thing leads to another. I hear a cool vocal line or guitar part and I try to sing or play it and listen to more songs with that type of vocal or guitar arrangement. When a bass line catches my attention I dissect it and compare it to others in other songs. Sometimes it’s just a few notes. I store them in my head or record them and then eventually there is a blend of melodies and styles that sticks around somehow.
I tend to be impulsive and act or make decisions a bit too fast in certain situations. So, when it comes to music I remind myself to slow down and take the time to listen and review things and pay attention to details – Especially during recording sessions. I wish I would shop that way. Look at the expiration date of things on shelves, but I usually skip that step.
Discuss your music career.
Wow! I wish there was a lot more to write about. I do the best work I can and I try to get better at what I do. I am humbled when someone grants me a few minutes of their time to listen to a song of mine. I am grateful. Time is precious. I do my best so it is time well spent.
Definitely the completion and successful release of “Ease Up” is a great milestone for me career-wise. It gave me a boost and I am writing new songs that I look forward to recording very soon.
List your musical work.
Ease UP EP
Rising Tide EP
Share your memorable experiences with us.
The “Ease up” EP has been well received by reviewers, DJs, radio programmers, and audiences of course. You never know how audiences will respond. So it’s really nice to receive positive feedback.
It’s important to mention that Brent Kolatalo, who mixed the EP has done a fabulous job. I am so impressed by his work. He is a brilliant artist. His mixes are perfect. He deserves a lot of credits for how well the songs have been received. Listening to the mixes as they came in, were memorable experiences.
Share your press release and reviews with us.
“In these turbulent times, and a sometimes mixed-up world, it’s always nice to hear something so uplifting and positive as the music Jay Elle creates.”
“Jay Elle is bringing the musical edge with his newest album called Ease Up! I was able to check out his latest album on Spotify and it blew me away. The Spotify edition was easy to use and locate his music on the media player. I was able to stream his album and just engulf myself with his new album. I can see why he is on 4 musical charts and climbing for his newest album.”
“Jay Elle’s single “Ease Up (Into Love)” is executed so gracefully and lovingly that the artist somehow makes it feel like it comes naturally to him, applying light touches to his voice to illuminate the intimacy of his understated songwriting. Jay Elle brings out the vulnerability in each one of us when making attempts at finding love. A new relationship is an uncharted territory, and most of us have natural fears of the unknown.”
“From conception to execution and production aesthetics, this EP is a true gem, which allows listeners to peek into Jay’s mindset and songwriting attitude. Whether it’s rock, pop, folk, or R&B, he is able to bring many styles under one roof and create a one-of-a-kind tone.”
“This recording is full of extremely pleasant, well written and nicely arranged music. It has all the elements of great writing, melody, outstanding groove, excellent recording, and a whole bunch of subtle, musical beauty. Let’s say that this recording has rekindled hope in me that there really still are artists out there who know how to make great melodic music.”
“Jay Elle’s voice is absolutely delicious and so soothing. The current single, “Ease Up (Into Love) is very carefully crafted, and it’s exquisite to listen to.”
“Ease Up (Into Love) is a wonderful musical experience that is comprised of five tracks. Jay Elle’s warm acoustic instrumentation adds heavily upon the continuity and quality of the project. Ease Up (Into Love) totes some well-crafted melodies and guitar strums that are very striking. Take A Holiday is one track that stands out front for its inventiveness as it certainly exemplifies much of the EP’s charming premise. Ease Up (Into Love) by Jay Elle is a charm for purists who understand the brilliance of beautiful music.”
“Jay Elle proves to be a deft singer-songwriter on the soothing country-pop of “Ease Up (Into Love).” A tremendous amount of warmth radiates throughout the whole of the collection.
Narratives emerge showing off small vignettes of a life lived to the fullest. Optimism is woven into each piece further lending it a sense of tenderness. With vocals that have a laid-back, mellow quality, Jay Elle sings straight from the heart. Rock, pop, country, folk, and a hint of soul, the entirety of the journey has a majestic quality to it. The arrangements merge all of these genres together in a way that feels so bright and airy.”
“Definitely, the biggest interest in this EP is the title track, which is a peaceful and yet very enjoyable track that is going to appeal to everybody who is into the kind of country music that Elle does. Why is this? Because he is a very melodic and logical musician, who knows what melody to use and how to use it, which is something that has very positive results in this particular situation and with this kind of musician.”
“So then who is Jay stripped unplugged of the influences that makes his sound palatable? I can imagine you’d say something like mature musicality, youthful vocals, dreamy cotton cords, gentle masculinity, and easy flow. A totally deezable playlistable sequence of tracks that’s designed for the foreground and the background.”
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
My name is Jay Elle. “Elle” is pronounced “L” like the letter or the magazine. It is not that common but a few other singers are out there under that name. We are all different. There is even a product by that name. I will let you Google that.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
As I mentioned earlier, “By The Blade” is about recognizing when a situation is never going to improve. You can be persistent, it’s a great quality, but sometimes you have to admit that things are not going to change for the better.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
My latest EP is titled, “Ease Up” and is a collection of groovy, uplifting, guitar-driven songs.
With “Ease Up” I wanted to share optimistic and positive messages and talk about looking forward to the future and moving on from situations that may not be perfect or not working out at all. There is enough negativity around. We should keep in mind that negative headlines get us going. Some folks out there know how to push our buttons. We don’t have to get roped in. I am optimistic about the future. I wanted to share that view. The songs are groovy and hopefully will give listeners a boost when the world around them seems to be going from bad to worse.