Interview with prolific singer-songwriter Jay Blanes

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 decided to refocus his efforts on commercial indie-folk and the result is his new E.P. ‘Fireworks’ – out now. We spoke to Jay about what inspires him, about the new E.P. – and what he’s been up to in lockdown!

Hi Jay – where are you right now as we are talking to you- and what are you doing?

Hey there! Right now I’m on my parents’ sofa in my hometown. I came a few days to visit friends & family and record a couple of tracks! I was all day in the studio yesterday so I took this morning to do office work and relax!

How did you know you wanted to be an artist? What inspired you?

As a kid, my grandma insisted that I should take piano lessons, and both me and my mum surrendered to her pleading. It was classical music and I didn’t really enjoy it, but things changed when I became a teenager and discovered songwriting, singing, playing around the campfire,… However, it wasn’t until my second year at uni that I realised my dream had always been to pursue a professional career in music. It’s like it had always been there but I had been suppressing it because of stereotypes about how impossible it is and due to a lack of confidence in my skills.

Did you have an instinct that one day you would become a musician and songwriter?

As I said, it had always kinda been there… The Disney Channel stars (Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana) were probably the first ones to amuse me with the “dream” but then I had other people around me who had started bands (my cousin, some friends from summer camps,…). Music was my full time hobby: any time I had after school or uni went to music, especially to record covers for youtube with complex music videos and loads of collaborations. One day, watching Ed Sheeran perform in Barcelona, I clicked and realised I wanted to be where he was and do what he was doing. And ever since then I’ve been fighting for it. 

You are now based in London – what is it about this city that makes you want to stay?

For starters, London is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and has tons of parks. That is very much appreciated because I love nature and it’s hard to find it in a metropolis. It’s also got an international atmosphere that I appreciate and so much history. However, the main reason I’m staying is that the UK, and London, have the best support systems for new artists in Europe. There are so many resources at our disposal to grow!

You have a new EP out called ‘Fireworks’ – what inspired the songs on this?

The idea to release an EP came to me at BBC Introducing Live, while listening to some industry experts. I realised I needed something bigger than a single to consolidate my sound. I always have songs waiting to be released, so I gathered 5 of them and went all in. 
I wrote “Fireworks”, the first track, when I realised I had been building castles on my mind but the girl only wanted to have fun. “Natalie” is about this journalism student I fell for in Los Angeles who I had a magical date with but I didn’t see much more because she was going back to San Francisco and I was returning to Spain. “There Was A Song” tells a story I came up with in my mind, stepping in the shoes of someone who is going to war and has to say goodbye to their lover. “Take You Home” is a song to break all this emotional weight and dance, while “I’m Sorry” is the deepest one. It’s a song I wrote after I reached out to my ex – to apologise – and she told me she didn’t want to know anything about me. 

We love the videos you’ve made for some of the tracks- tell us about them!

All of the videos, except for “There Was a Song” were produced during quarantine! I had to be very creative with ideas to be able to shoot them at home or with social distancing!

“Natalie” has a fun video representing my will to convince the girl to come with me. I used a few references to the most famous rom-coms of all time.

“There Was a Song” had the biggest production and complexity. It is a cinematic video which tells the story of a relationship broken by the obligation he has to go to war. It’s my favourite one!

For “Fireworks”, I edited a collage of actual fireworks displays and I projected it on me and a white wall. I believe the result is quite beautiful! The bursts are synced with the music beats!

And for “Take You Home”, I decided to unnecessarily complicate my life and become part of a toys world. I used all my childhood toys to represent buildings, people, planes,… and I put myself in it! 

What has your time in Lockdown been like? Who are you with and did you have a daily routine?

Most of my lockdown was shooting music videos and promoting my singles / EP! That took a lot of time! I also set up a Patreon account, in an effort to compensate my job loss (I used to busk in Westminster before the Coronavirus). Later on, I was lucky enough to find a part-time job I can do while pursuing my music career, so my routine now is working from home in the mornings and writing, producing, mixing or promoting my songs in the afternoon and weekends! Unfortunately, I’m single so I’m on my own!

What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Will we see more music?

You will definitely see more music! I’m planning to release a track every 6-7 weeks starting in September, and believe me when I say they will be even better! I try not to have any big expectations about my future, but I do have goals to grow consistently and be motivated. In a year or two, I seek to be making a living out of music again. Not by busking, but with my own songs this time!