Justin Jay sat down to chat about his latest album everything will come together pt. 1, how he balances his mental health, and so much more!
Los Angeles-based artist Justin Jay has been absolutely crushing the game since he first arrived on the scene. Known for his unique production style that allows him to record new tunes whenever inspiration strikes, his releases like HOME and today’s everything will come pt. 1 are also very personal looks into his life experiences and state of mind.
Aside from his stunning music, Justin is also one of the most dynamic artists when he hops behind the decks. Bringing some seriously infectious energy to the stage wherever he plays, he’s kept crowds dancing everywhere from Dirtybird Campout to Electric Forest. Whether it’s a solo set or one that includes his full band The Fantastic Voyage, he’s an artist who will always be getting you to shake your tailfeather.
After a massive set that kept us dancing from start to finish at Dirtybird BBQ LA, we sat down to chat with Justin Jay about his recently released album, mental health, and so much more. Download or stream everything will come together pt. 1 on your preferred platform and read on for the in-depth discussion!
Stream Justin Jay – everything will come together pt. 1 on Spotify:
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. On your past album Home, you dug deep into your inner emotions and expressed them musically throughout the release. Does everything will come together part 1 following that same vein and if so, what’s the story behind it?
I feel like it’s more of an outward journey and experience. A lot of the songs were inspired from a year ago, when I was I was just starting to get back on my feet and felt less overwhelmed than I did when I wrote the Home album. Because with the Home album, shit was going crazy and I went back to my parent’s house to get some space and stopped touring for a bit. It was very introspective.
For this one, the whole concept behind the album is kind of cheesy, but a lot of it’s about love and it’s interesting. I think that the name of the album kind of sums it up where it’s like 500 Days of Summer, you don’t know if it’s gonna work out or not but you gotta just hope that everything will come together and then know that everything will work out the way it’s meant to.
I think a lot of the songs are pretty on the nose about my journey. The coolest thing about writing songs is looking back on them, they can be a little time capsule for what you were going through. Listening to this album, it definitely captures stories and journeys from about a year ago, which is super dope. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a reason why there are a part one and a part two. So this is just part one dropping in May.
When speaking about the album, you’ve described it as “putting Tame Impala and EDM in a blender.” What can you tell us about the creative inspiration and why you chose to go in that direction?
You know, it’s super funny. I think a big part of it was I always want to learn how to play guitar and I’m super bad, thankfully, I can use the computer to make up for what I can’t do. A lot of it was just me, singing and writing songs, whether it was on the piano or on the guitar or just in front of my laptop. And there’s a lot of guitar playing from my homie Benny Bridges. If it’s if the guitar shit is cool, it’s probably him. [Everyone Laughs]
But yeah, I think the guitar is a cool instrument because there’s this whole world of getting guitar pedals and making a big pedal board. The sounds that you can get, I don’t know how you can get those same sounds on a synthesizer, you know, VST. That aspect alone has been really cool.
As a songwriter, you end up writing different kinds of songs with the guitar. On Home a lot of the songs I wrote at the piano and even if they’re house songs or dance songs, they’re more ballad-y. But a lot of the songs on this album I feel are more kind of upbeat and more guitar driven. It’s funny because I feel like I explored a bunch of it and a lot of the stuff I’m interested in now is very different.
A big concept behind when I make music is feeling if I get inspired by something whimsical or random, that I can just dig into it and not worry about it not being house enough or it’s not this enough. I can just do whatever I want and, hopefully, people don’t hate it. That keeps it really fun because it keeps original. There’s so much good music out there. Like today at the BBQ party, I went into it feeling like I wanted to just play a bunch of random shit that I thought was cool. I didn’t want to feel like I had to play a certain type of thing.
You also have an unconventional approach to music production as well. You’ve recorded things on your iPhone, through your speakers, and stuff like that. Do you feel more comfortable in that sort of environment or is it just an inspiration strikes?
I think it’s definitely both. Especially on the Home album, when I was just starting to sing, it was a lot less daunting to sing into my phone than to set up a microphone and have a studio type of thing. And then a big part of it also is just inspiration striking at inopportune times.
The last song on this album, the demo vocal, which is still layered in the track for the song “dreamstate”, I literally recorded that on the plane from LA to Miami. V-Moda headphones have a mic on them, so I was singing next to a guy who was passed out. I was going to play the Friendship boat party and I didn’t have my mic so I just recorded it into my phone. That way I could play it that night at the party. So yeah, I think that’s kind of a necessity.
But on this album, there’s a lot of that janky mic stuff and some stuff that’s more polished sounding. Definitely stuff that’s more polished sounding than on the Home album. Like, Danny lent me his nice mic and now it’s kind of broken, I used it too much, but I really like it. Sorry, Danny! [Laughs]
Last year you collaborated with Thumpasaurus and you also have a collab with The California Honey Drops on the new album. Are there other artists that you want to work with in a similar fashion?
You know, it’s funny. I feel like a lot of the dudes I just have met, whether through high school or college or wherever are just a lot of really awesome people who are doing cool stuff. So yeah, I’m working with Thumpasaurus on some new stuff which I’m super excited about. I helped them produce one of their new songs and it’s unbelievable, hopefully, that’ll come out soon.
And my homie Josh Taylor, I’m helping him with some new music and that’s super exciting. It’s super different, very slow, laid back, not club stuff, which is very unfamiliar for me but really fun.
Then one other USC college homie is this rapper named Felly. We lived in the same house in our senior year of college. He heard me blasting house music, I heard him rapping, and while he was still in college he blew up, started touring and has crazy fans and stuff. After all these years we got in the studio together and made a song and that’ll come out on part two of the album.
We’ll look forward to it for sure. You’re also coming off a recent performance at the Do LaB stage at Coachella. Having played that festival in the past as well, can you share what taking the stage in Indio means to you?
Man, it’s so awesome, because I feel like especially growing up in Los Angeles, Coachella is something that your friends go to when everyone’s in middle school and stuff. And then I went to USC and all my college friends go to Coachella. The first time I played was during my senior year of college, so the crowd was just stacked with all my friends. It was super cool.
And this year, a lot of homies. It was awesome. I felt way less nervous and it was great. I had Benny Bridges and Andy Ammo who plays the bongos and we did some, some live music stuff at the end of my set. It was really fun. The Do LaB is such an awesome stage, it feels so intimate even though it’s pretty big now.
Speaking of shows, along with the release the album you’re going to be touring and bringing the band with you. For those who are looking to attend and may have not caught a show of yours in the past with the full band, what can they expect vibe wise?
Yeah. I feel like a lot of songs off the new album. Maybe a couple of songs off Home. We need to rehearse more. [Laughs] It’s gonna be imperfect, but that’s what you sign up for when you do it live. It’s also funny because I feel like I’m the least musically talented dude and our crew, so I need to step up my game. Live music stuff is so much fun. I love DJing, but they both are so different and really complement each other. But it should be fun, man. I’m excited to get back on the road at the boys and play some music.
That’s awesome. And you’ve also had a couple of festivals, Electric Forest last year sticks out, where you’ve played a ton of sets over the weekend.
Between me, and the band, and the renegade DJ sets, I think I had like 13 the first weekend and then a bunch the second weekend too.
So when you’re playing that many sets over the course of a two-week span, how do you keep your sets fresh?
You just get to play a bunch of music that you never played before and you get to play a bunch of music you haven’t played in years. I think also Forest is really dope because the renegade situation is kind of like a festival in itself. When I was there, there were three huge renegade stages and you could just bounce between them. So a set might have been like 30 minutes here and then 45 minutes back to back with three other DJ is there.
To answer your question, I think at Forest a lot of these Renegade stages are so much fun because so many the artists who play the festival get out the campgrounds and renegades. So you’re playing back to back with random DJ that you would never share the stage with like JAUZ and GRiZ. Jumping in the ring with guys like that I’m going to play stuff that maybe I wouldn’t play if I was by myself. You can just mess around and have a good time.
Sweet! On to a more serious topic, many artists in the music scene have spoken out about their struggles with the rigorous pace of the industry and the toll it takes on their mental health. As someone who’s been very open about your struggles, what do you do to maintain your balance and preserve your own?
You know, I think some of the things that have helped me the most have been just trying to get a good balance in terms of how much I tour. Because as a DJ, you can tour 365 days a year, it can get pretty intense. I love performing and I love making music and trying to find that balance is tricky because they’re both so important. Touring is so much fun, making music is so deeply satisfying, so it’s a balancing act.
But another funny thing is when I tour, especially as a DJ, I feel like I make a ton of music on the road. I just got a song sent Dirtybird where I played a show, and I felt it was a good show but I was unsatisfied. It was four in the morning, I just had to go to bed but I wanted to make some music. So I made a beat and finished it on the plane the next morning. It’s stuff like that. Making music is so fun because if you’re feeling something, whether you’re antsy, angry, stoked, or sad, it doesn’t matter because you can express it. So yeah, a balance between the two.
Also, I think one of the biggest things for me was there was a time where I felt like I had to be doing a certain type of thing, artistically and musically, where I felt the pressure to make bangers and make people go nuts during DJ sets and stuff. This was before I even had a chance to try singing and writing songs on the piano and stuff like that. For me, a lot of my personal experience has been needing to hold on to that sense of freedom and to do what you want to do.
One of the things that made me crazy was feeling as though I had to do a certain thing that I didn’t really want to do within the context of music. It’s weird because on paper everything seemed so perfect for me. I was touring and DJing and all this amazing stuff. It took me forever to figure out why I felt so messed up on the inside, but it was just because I wanted to go and sing some songs at the piano. I think that’s one of the most important things for me because the music stuff, it can be really intense and really hard. So when you get to do what you want, it’s all worth it. And that’s the craziest thing, even if people don’t love it or think it’s the best thing ever, that self-satisfaction and honesty is the most important thing.
A lot of artists we’ve talked to have similar feelings about that, especially if they’ve been trying to make music for a specific label or something. At the end of the day, it seems like the fans always grow, like your real fans
1000% And into what you’re saying. Even when I was in college trying to get music on Dirtybird. I had this first year, freshman year of college experience where my first week of school I got my first song signed to Dirtybird. It’s funny we’re talking about this while we’re at Dirtybird BBQ. [Laughs] But yeah a block that way [points to USC Campus] in my freshman dorm. I got it signed in September, the very beginning of the year, and it took me 10 months of sending a demo almost every single week to Claude to get a second song signed.
What ended up happening was, first off, I think I was getting better technically and learning a little bit more about production and stuff. But I think a big part of it too was that I was trying to think “what would Claude VonStroke like?” And all the music that I made with that mindset he did not like at all. Then I went on this journey towards the end of it where I just started making music that I knew he wouldn’t like that was super different. All the sudden, songs that I had sent him that I felt like he wouldn’t like, he thought that was the one. With music, you just gotta have fun with it. Be free, it’s not like homework. Just gotta do for yourself.
Patience pays off, right? And finally, since we’re out here today at Dirtybird BBQ, what’s your favorite thing to grill up when you’re having a cookout?
I like burgers. I’m gluten free these days so yeah, I’ll throw some lettuce wraps in the mix. I’m weird with food, like I will eat like a hot dog but hold the bun as a hot dog holder. If we’re out in the wild and people are grilling it’s perfect.
Well, that’s all we’ve got, it was great chatting with you!