Barcelona-native, 22-year-old Jay Blanes moved to London in July 2019 to become a full-time musician. Passionate about many genres, such as pop, jazz, indie, rock or R&B, Jay recently decided to focus his efforts on commercial indie-folk and is about to start releasing a few singles that will lead to a sound-defining EP later this Summer. The first single is the upbeat Natalie – out now across all download and streaming platforms. We decided to find out more about Jay with a Take 5 …
When did you realise that you wanted to be a music artist? What or who has inspired you ?
It is kind of a long story, I guess it usually is. When I was 7, my grandma, who has always been an advocate for music in our family, insisted on me and my mum that I should take piano lessons, and so I did. It was classical music, and the studies where quite demanding, so I did not really enjoy it and I would not practice as I should have. During high school, I almost dropped out of music school. However, I started going to music summer camps and I discovered another way to live music, singing and jamming by the campfire at night.
A few years later, a friend who had a band that I admired convinced me and my (now ex)girlfriend to upload covers to YouTube. But we broke up two years later, so I leaned on music to get over it (I was 17). I decided to get better at recording and editing both music and videos. And the time for college arrived.
During my second year of business school, at an Ed Sheeran concert in Barcelona, I realised my dream was to be in his shoes. And for the first time I started believing I could do it. Ed is probably my biggest inspiration, apart from many other artists such as Damien Rice, Finneas or Coldplay.
Who, living or dead, would you dream of collaborating with?
I believe it is a tie between Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli. As I explained before, Ed has had a huge impact in my life and I love his music, so being able to work with him, in any way, would be the dream. Nevertheless, Andrea Bocelli has been in my life for quite a long time too, and he is one of my grandma’s favourite artists. Andrea has found his voice: I don’t know how he does it, but there are only emotions coming out of his mouth, you can feel every line. Also, being able to show that to my grandma and maybe even introducing her to him would make me feel like I owe her a bit less for all the love and support she has always been giving to me.
Tell us about your single –’Natalie ‘- what is the song about?
Natalie is the first single of my next EP, called “Fireworks”, which will be released on June, the 5th!
The song came to me while jamming, sitting on a bench at University of Southern California (USC), right before a Songwriting class. I was there last year as an exchange student. Natalie was a journalism student I fell for there. Our first date was magical: we met after I busked at the Santa Monica Pier, walked to its end -where some dancers were performing- and witnessed a beautiful sunset. Then it went dark and saw lightning storms in the horizon, went for dinner in an Asian restaurant, I spilled my glass of water all over me, and then sang her some songs to gather the strength to kiss her.
Unfortunately, our paths weren’t going to the same place: two weeks after our first date, she was going back to her hometown in San Francisco and my flight back to Spain was scheduled for before she would come back to LA. This is why the song seeks to convince her to stay with me, come with me or do whatever is necessary to keep getting to know each other… The fun fact is she never listened to the song, until now, I guess.
Tell us five things you love about London, and why……
1 – The city itself: its parks, its beautiful and stunning buildings,…
2 – Its history: the fact that we can walk the same streets Shakespeare, Chaplin, Churchill or Queen Victoria walked… is quite mind-blowing.
3 – London welcomes people from all over the world, it is the most international city I have been to. I have felt like another Londoner.
4 – The support for new artists by the music industry in the UK and London is HUGE… that is the main reason why I came. Furthermore, you guys value music and entertainment in a different and better way than Spaniards do.
5 – English! I have always loved English since I started learning it as a kid. All my heroes, referents and inspirations speak English and being able to speak it everyday is a dream. Furthermore, being able to sing in English without seeing anyone in the audience frown is very freeing. In Spain and Catalonia they want you to sing in Spanish or Catalan unless you’re a huge foreign star.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
A severe improvement in the Coronavirus crisis… I do not think there will be a vaccine ready for this year but, at least, I hope we will be way better… On a more personal and selfish note, being able to hug my grandparents, best friends and family…
And the release of the EP! It will start defining my sound and it is my best work so far, I really love it! There are a couple upbeat, happy, fun songs and three indie/folk ballads.