We have the pleasure of welcoming Jay Hill for the next guest mix. It’s an absolute belter of groovy House too. Jay has been going from strength to strength and building her People of the light empire so we thought it would be a great time to get her onboard and ask a few questions too.
Good to have you on Jay, for those who don’t yet know of you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are from?
Thank you so much for taking an interest in me! I’m a music producer, disc jockey & label owner of People of the Light records (& much more lol but that’s the main stuff). I’m originally from the South coast beaches of California & now living on the East coast of US in Philadelphia.
How would you describe your sound?
I tell people outside of the industry, I say that I “make very underground style electronic music. Sometimes I’ll get some interesting reactions when I say that, to which I further describe this style as very deep & soulful and not commercial sounding at all.
To people inside the industry, I say my style ranges between a lot of the house & techno subgenres but moreso what I strive for is sounds that have depth, emotion & are captivating.
How did you get into music, what is your musical history?
I came into electronic music a bit later in life than many. Around 2007 I was living in San Francisco & started going to the clubs there & just loved the music so much. I had a friend that was from Sheffield UK that was taking me to all the best clubs. Around the same time, I was learning to play the guitar & sing/ songwrite. But found myself very limited as I was really drawn to electronic music & wasn’t able to really make the music with only one instrument. A few years later I moved to Los Angeles and as a freelance project started a copywriting business & wrote bios for some big electronic music artists you can check out at (www.thewritingstudio.us). Through hearing about their experiences & love for the music I sought out learning to DJ & produce. And later went to audio engineering school in NYC in 2014 and the rest is history!
Who are your main inspirations? and how do you think have they effected your sound?
They have changed and evolved over time, but originally included the Timewriter, Ben Watt/Everything but the Girl, Josh Wink, Mr. C, Jay Tripwire, Kenny Larkin, Mr. G & King Britt. There’s always some element to their productions that I gravitate towards and often will reference as I’m working on a track something I’d like to capture in a new way. For example the acid flavours of Wink & Mr. C or the ride cymbals from Mr.G. – elements they have built their unique sound & styles upon. Most recently, I have been finding so many new forms of inspiration not even with electronic music but from hip hop, folk & jazz influences.
Do you have a set sound now, or do you keep changing?
My sound now is great evolving as I’m pushing myself now in new ways. I’ve just done a breakbeat style remix for Constant Circles. And for my original productions I’ve just started a new 5 track EP that has a lot more of a cinematic feel to it. Each track builds upon each other. . . Aside from that at the outset of 2021, worked on a beautiful collab project called ‘Skywalk’ with a producer who’s sound is much more progressive. That’s the one genre I really haven’t broke into much, progressive/melodic style and I’m trying to expand my sounds into a bit more of.
Tell us a little bit about your studio, are you hardware or software?
My studio is very simple, I have 2 Arturia keyboards/controllers (that I love) a TR8 & Volca bass machine. I’m more on the software side I’d say but not stuck into being associated like that, as I always want to expand & evolve my gear. The only requirement is that it has to be really easy for me to use & has a quick learning curve. I don’t have a lot of time or patience to watch 3 hour tutorials just to learn to use something. When I feel the creative flow coming, I have to be creating & productive.
That being said, the best part of my studio is the studio itself. It’s in a place in Philly where people don’t live, so I have no obstacles or restrictions with sound, it’s my own space I don’t have to share time & it’s not where I live either so I have a separation between where I sleep & create. It’s my sanctuary where I really come alive. . .
What is your number one piece of production (or life) advice you would give to people?
There’s a few pieces of advice I’d like to pass on. The first, is I think it’s really important in this digital world today of capturing “life” in real time — remember, that you have a choice & you don’t have to buy into this. I think that people actually crave for mystery these days and what I mean by that is — I don’t feel we need to post every moment & thought of our lives on social media. Sure it’s great to be connected to people, esp. in a time where distance & loneliness is greater than it’s ever been. Back in the day, rock stars were mysterious & intriguing because people didn’t have close access to them. They didn’t need to record their studio sessions to be deemed as great musicians & artists. They made their music & put it out & people loved it just by hearing it.
I believe we need to get back to more mystery and exclusivity as artists. People tell me all the time “Jay you never post any videos of you in your studio.” To which I reply “I know, so I invite you to my studio come hang out with me for a night. If that’s not geographically possible, let’s have a video chat & have a real face to face conversation about music…”
The other piece of golden advice I will pay forward is that “the bigger you get the more humble you need to be.” There are times when you may get a big label signing and therefore get all this “attention” but don’t lean into it too much. There will be a time where this industry will bring you back to the beginning over & over & over again and this is how it works. Stay true to your dreams and remember why you’re “really” doing this – make your art — whether people see it or not you’ve created something valuable. . .
Are there any pieces of kit that is essential to your sound?
My TR8 drum machine and dub chords are nearly in almost every track of mine.
Do you have a favourite track of you own? And why?
Oh that’s tough, I’m pretty hard on myself as I hardly listen or play my own music. I’d have to say ‘Life is a Beautiful Day’ probably because this was released on my label last year during the hight of the pandemic, and I had it scheduled before things hit. So it really resonated with people and it’s the one track I felt everyone could connect to in some way during this very difficult time!
Can you clue us into any artists you are loving that other people might not know?
I absolutely love RYX the lead singer in Howling, also DJOKO & Arkady Antsyrev have been coming out with some stellar house tunes lately. It’s funny because I was recently reminded that the younger (new) generation of ravers are often not familiar with many of the legends from our day. The other week at a small livestream house party, played a few tracks Josh Wink’s Profound Sounds series (Heiko Lux & Johannes Heil) and a bunch of people were asking me “who is this?” it made me think that we have a duty, us DJ’s to bring back some of the legends into our sets because many of them are still making music!
How do you see the state of the scene?
I have had some tough moments of anxiety & uncertainty, but I do believe that we have such a tight community of music lovers that deeply & passionately love this music, will not allow it to die. I think it’s a matter of time before things start coming back, slowly & more intimately. But also I think some people will have not been able to sustain themselves, and therefore, new opportunities will emerge without maybe so much saturation. I’m already hearing about festivals in July in NY & the fall in the UK. I think if things go back to very strict measures, then you’re going to start seeing a rebel rave scene from back in the 90’s with secret parties & such. You can’t keep us down too long
With 2021 looking like we might get back in business – how has the scene coped where you are?
I’m really proud of the way the Philly music family has handled things & been so resilient with all our country has been through over the last year. Through it all, we’ve been able to rally together to save some of our venues through livestreams & small private outdoor events. Don’t get me wrong everyone is ready to rage but will do so thoughtfully, our scene is not one that will give up & die. Additionally with President Biden pushing hard for all Americans to be vaccinated, this has helped to provide some mental relief that there will be a day soon when we can go back as we were. . . the energy has changed and you can feel definitely feel that in the air . . .
What are your goals for the next few years?
My immediate goals are to complete this 5 track EP as last year I wasn’t very productive. Eventually I’d love to start to sign some artists to POTL my label (so far it’s only been my back catalogue), and start doing label parties around the world, growing a community of music lovers. Additionally, I’m trying to get some tunes signed for film. I’ve had one so far & this is a new exciting opportunity!