Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Jaymay - Interview - 1.25.12 - Club Cafe - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Back in 2008 I went to see an artist known as Jaymay at Club Cafe. Simply put, I was smitten with her performance. She easily made my top show list for that year. At the time she was residing in London on record label EMI, touring frequently on both continents. When I saw she was coming back through our area I reached out to her for an interview. It was one of the most open conversations I have conducted with an artist on record. She holds nothing back.

The singer/songwriter now resides in NYC putting her music out independently. She is up for an Oscar Nomination for her original music in the film 'Happythankyoumoreplease'. She spoke to us about the nomination as well as her independence from labels, her European adventures and her feeling on encores.

We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show courtesy of double O Productions. As usual, just email us at with your name.

The last time you were here in Pgh (2008) you were residing in London working with EMI. It appears you are back in NYC? What made you move back? Still with the same label?

While I was in the UK most of my time was spent touring. The longest I spent in one spot was two weeks at a time in London. Otherwise, I was out on the road constantly. I moved back to NYC because it’s my favorite place. I was with a label called Heavenly in England which was a subsidiary of EMI. I was signed with Blue Note in the US, so I was touring worldwide. EMI dropped me and I was really happy. I am not the kind of artist who should be on a major label. I don’t feel I need a full length album, then tour, and then make another studio album. I do much better on my own terms.

How was your time in the UK? What are the differences between music scenes here compared to over the pond?

When I was touring the UK I was opening for larger bands such as Bright Eyes, Jose Gonzales, Okkervil River…so I was exposed to a very large audience. In Italy I always found the crowd to be so warm, wanting to talk to you, even if they don’t understand the language. They are very, reactive, embracive and loud. They applaud a lot and like to interject.

England was more reserve. I really had to work hard. I describe it as a city that took from you but gave nothing back. In a way that can be very inspiring because it makes you want to earn it and win their respect. But it was definitely hard.

In Scotland I felt they had less pretension than anywhere else. Everyone was so genuine, they were definitely there for the music. In Ireland I felt really respected because they crowds were fascinated with storytelling (which my music is).

One of your songs “Never Be Daunted” is in the mix with a possible Oscar nomination. How did this song come about for the film “Thankyoumoreplease”? How does the possibility of being nominated feel?

Josh Radnor (Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother) wrote, direct and stars in this film. His friend sent him a song of mine and Josh got it on the second season finale of HIMYM. He contacted me and asked that I read his screenplay for the movie. I was so inspired by it because it was relatable with the plot being about New Yorkers and all the relationships. It resonated with me because that is where I live and have similar experiences. I wrote a couple of songs for it, one being ‘Never Be Daunted’. He then gave me a pre-edited version of the movie and I wrote another song, ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. When they heard the songs they decided to score the film with my music (14 songs in total). I only wrote three songs for the film itself. To be nominated for an Oscar you have to write a song specific for the film which was ‘Never Be Daunted’.

It’s down to 39 contenders. They have actually already voted but they announce the nominees on January 24th. To be nominated you have to score 8.25 or higher and there can be up to 5 nominees. The songs are clips of the film so you have to view it in its complete context. It’s really competitive because The Muppets and Winne the Pooh are in contention as well.

It appears from your site that you have released a series of EP’s and singles. Is there a reason you have yet to release a full LP?

What really happened was when I was dropped by EMI, the contract was still not over and they owed me money. It was over a year and a half before I could release music under Jaymay Music. If I had released anything it would have been owned by EMI which I refused to do. While I was on the road I didn’t even sell my album because I didn’t want to support the label. I just sold my EP. I ended up just writing and recording during this time.

When I finally became Jaymay Music again, I took a look at my work. I felt it was haphazard, jumbled with no running theme because it was just this dry collection. I have a ton of singles that I am just trying to organize now. But all this music will come out. I really want to write a full length album. I have been writing a lot of songs on the piano; I feel my sound has really changed and want to make sure I capture it in LP form. It won’t be anytime in the near future. I am just going to put out music in the meantime. I am basically playing catch up with myself.

When you are creating your music do you enlist others to assist with lyrics/structure? Or do you perform most of this on your own?

I do everything myself. I have produced all my music. I do work with others but I play and create all when recording.

Last time you were here you stated you don’t like to perform encores but did so because of the crowd’s appreciation. Has this changed at all? Why don’t you enjoy it?

For me it’s so ridiculous because it’s just inevitable especially when you go to a big show. The whole thing of walking offstage and coming back on is not something I enjoy. I just want the show to be amazing and then I want to leave. When I am playing for such a small audience it seems so silly to be this single person onstage with a guitar in a room that sometimes doesn’t have a backstage. To do an encore in a small room what does it really mean?

In Italy they have this thing called bis. At the end of your set they yell bis, bis, bis, and you are supposed to play a repeat of your best song or part of it. If you don’t do it, it’s the most non-respectful thing you could do. You have to do it. I am all about giving the people what they want, but I am also about playing my set and leaving.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? 

It was the Sidewalk Café. I had a revelation; I have been writing since middle school. I was obsessed with words and word play involving little poems about my dog or anything around. I was also playing the piano and violin. In college I started really writing songs. I bought a guitar when I was 18. I would just perform these songs in my room never performing out. Then in my sophomore year I was on break and a friend of mine took me to the Fireside Cafe where she performed a song. I was just like, “She is so brave. I can’t believe she is playing her own music.” I promised myself the same thing. When I graduated I moved to NYC and went to the open mic where I performed my one song. I just knew…

You are often thrown into the ‘anti folk’ genre based on your lyrics and acoustic sound. Do you think this is a fair assessment?

I don’t know what anti-folk means to be honest. I am involved in the scene according to them, but all it means to me if you had somewhat success or you started there (Sidewalk Cafe) people label you. Lach is the founder of anti-folk movement…like Regina Spector, Langhorne Slim, The Moldy Peaches…all those people came from the scene, but to me anti-folk doesn’t mean anything; you just performed at the Sidewalk Cafe open mic nights. There is no message we are trying to convey.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I can’t wait for the show. I loved playing there last time. I got the best sweatshirt of my life there. It’s black with gold dinosaurs. It’s so amazing. I fell asleep on an airplane once and a woman said, “If you fall asleep I am taking that sweatshirt right off your body.” It’s a great sweatshirt.

Doors are at 7p with the show at 8p. Greg Dutton and The Wreckids will open. Tickets are only $10 and can be found here.