Contributed by : Asjad Nazir
With his latest single Tears In The Ocean Jay Sean has returned back to his soulful roots. The love song, which has plenty of emotion and heartfelt lyrics, is from his new album The Mistress II. It continues the remarkable journey of a singing sensation who has made a name for himself globally. To mark the release of the song, Eastern Eye put Jay Sean in the hot seat and for the first time got him to answer questions set by fellow artists. Some of the most talented acts in UK music asked Jay about music, career, life, secret of his success and more, including some very unexpected questions.
Maz Bonafide: I was touring Pakistan earlier this year and realised you have a big fan base there. Would you consider touring Pakistan?
I did two shows in Pakistan before! The crowd was nuts! They loved it! One of the shows was a New Year’s event at the President’s Golf Club; I will never forget that.
Priti Menon: Would you ever consider a collaboration with an upcoming artist who isn’t fully established, if yes, when can we start?(Laughs) Very slick I like that! And yes of course I would. I believe in fresh upcoming talent and would rather collaborate with someone whose vibe I’m feeling and is on the rise than work with someone who is already hot and look like I am jumping on the bandwagon.
Rita Morar: If there was one song from the past you had written and sung, what would it be and why?
I don’t have a favourite song as such, but I love songs that are just beautifully written masterpieces like Adele’s Someone Like You or Stevie Wonders Overjoyed. The classics to me though, like ones by writer Diane Warren who is responsible for so many unbelievable songs, are ones I admire most.
Japjit Kaur: What’s more important, art or love?
The two come hand in hand for me. I can’t make art unless I’m in love with it.
The107: What do you think the future holds for Asian artists trying to break into the mainstream?
I can speak from experience and tell you it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. We are still a minority unfortunately, and the mainstream means relating to a mass audience. Which can be very difficult if you are one of the only ‘brown faces’ in the game. It’s as difficult probably as a white actor trying to make it in Bollywood. These are just the unfortunate truths. In the 12 years I’ve been professionally doing music in the mainstream I have been keeping my eyes and ears open hoping to help bring someone forward that I can mentor, because I’ve pretty much come across every obstacle!
Apache Indian: Jay, congrats on your success in the USA. How did you find the music industry in USA compared to the UK, do you ever feel intimidated or have any regrets?
Honestly speaking breaking America was probably easier than becoming a household name in the UK. Simply because in the UK they see a brown face and pretty much know you are Asian. We are such a massive demographic in UK, but come with stereotypes. ‘Oh he probably does bhangra or sings in Hindi’. Even when I first came on the scene here it was as an ‘Asian r’n’b singer’ or ‘British Indian singer’. It was never just ‘r’n’b singer or pop star Jay Sean. I didn’t mind the label in the sense that it at least allowed me to rep my heritage and people, of which I am so proud. But what happened was the audience would read that and automatically make a judgment on my music without even hearing it first. Whereas in America my look was so ambiguous I could’ve been Puerto Rican, Dominican or Greek, it didn’t matter. So that was never what they focused on, they simply heard my music and made a judgment on the music, which is how it’s supposed to be if you are a musician surely.
Rekha Sawhney: Getting to the top and staying there is a difficult game. What makes you keep going and do you sometimes feel like the fight is not worth the struggle?
Music is all I know. It’s been my life and job for the past 12 years. Any job has its difficulties as does life of course. That doesn’t mean you stop or quit, it just makes you question how much you want it. And I’m not one to give up on a dream. I have been so blessed with my success and opportunities that it would be an insult to stop now.
Annie Khalid: You haven’t consciously attempted to break Bollywood, is it intentional?
I am not planning to break Bollywood at least not as an actor. I have to keep my brand in tact and would rather do music for a movie than try to star in one. I am current working with AR Rahman on a project as we speak.
San2: We know you have a fitness coach, but do still have a vocal coach?
I actually do not have a vocal coach. I do however have an amazing vocal tutor app on my iPhone, which I use to do my vocal warm-ups before a show and recording. (Laughs) So bad I know, an app replaced a human! What can I say it’s the thrifty Indian in me!
Zain: What did you do differently to everyone else to touch the highest point in the mainstream market?
I think success in the mainstream market has a lot to do with talent, hard work and the right opportunity. Call that destiny, fate or luck. I believe we all have a calling and a time. You just got to make sure you are ready to kill it when your time comes. I don’t think there is a formula. You have to be clued up and honest enough to know if your product and package can hang with the biggest and the best. If your video can’t stand next to Justin Timberlake’s, if your vocals can’t hang with Usher then chances are you won’t be able to make it in that league. You have to aim for that level of excellence. I constantly strive to make myself better in every way.
MasterClass (Juggy Rehal & Simon Nakra): What was it like working with Lil Wayne for your hit single Down and were you actually together when shooting the video?
Wayne is cool. He’s a good guy. Very talented and very humble. He was extremely gracious and pleasant on set of Down. He told me ‘this is your time now. Own it’.
Kiran Dhanoa: How does it feel being recognised all over the world?
It’s an amazing blessing. Unbelievable at times! To know that I came from Hounslow and my music made its way around the whole world is truly insane to me. I have literally toured the whole planet. I got to see the whole world because of my fans and am truly grateful for that. There is no bigger blessing.
DS (aka Suman): Apart from getting married and becoming a dad what has been one of your best moments in your career and life so far?
Of course one of the most memorable will be having the number one song in America and pretty much the world at that time – it was truly mind-blowing and humbling. Another standout moment was when I got to perform in Madison Square Garden in New York it in front of a packed house of 20,000 people all singing my songs. I will never forget that.
Gurinder Seagal: Since you’ve become a mainstream artist in US, how welcoming and helpful are you to British Asian artists wishing to cross over and what is the one piece of advice you would give them?
I have been so blessed to have the success I’ve had that I would love nothing more than to see someone else’s life change for the better and their dreams to come true because I know what a wonderful feeling that is. That’s why when I see others succeed I get happy because I know how amazing that feeling is. I would wish for all the good-hearted and humble people in the world to feel that. They deserve it. I’d say, work hard, dream big and never talk bad about anyone else’s career or success – everyone is on their hustle and grind so don’t judge them, focus on making yourself the best you can be.
Rara Loud: Have you changed as a person since hitting America?
I hope only for the better. Where you live does not define you. Who you are, how you treat people and the impact you have on the people you meet is how you are remembered. You must go to where your work is. If tomorrow I had to move to Mexico to work, I would go in a heartbeat. I have a family to support. You must work. As much as I am of course British in my heart till my dying day, I do love living in America. If I’m honest because I feel like yeah every child is raised to believe that they could be the next President. Also there isn’t as much cynicism there; it allows you to dream big and success is celebrated. I like that.
Myze: Now that you have stepped into the mainstream spotlight, how do you keep the Asian fans engaged?
Me being Asian by blood should be enough for that. Seeing any of my people succeed in whatever field they are in makes me proud and keeps me engaged. Russell Peters for example is one of my very good friends. Seeing him clean up in the comedy field, being one of the biggest entertainers and highest grossing comedians in the world makes me proud and keeps me engaged. He’s reppin for the team.
TaZzZ: What’s your favourite Bollywood movie?
I have many. Mostly the older ones! I love Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan films the most. Classics like Mard, Suhaag, DDLJ and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. As well as of course the beautiful songs in Saajan and Aashiqui.
Salique: As a young British Asian artist myself, who has grown up being inspired by you, what would be your advice to me to take my music to the next level and push towards international stardom?
In my humble opinion all I would suggest is to know who you are up against. There is a wealth of talent out there. To win you either have to have something totally unique or just be the best that you can be so that you can stand out for your talent. One of those will get you noticed!
Shizzio: If you could get a UK number one plus a Brit Award for best song, but the cost was you couldn’t go gym ever again, would you take the offer?
So I’d be a really fat pop star with a metal trophy on my fireplace? (Laughs) Bro don’t put me in such an awkward position.
V dubl E: Would you ever consider completely singing a song in Punjabi or Hindi for a Bollywood film?
I think that even though I can sing in Punjabi and Hindi my forte is still English, but I would probably give it a try as long as I had an expert in my corner to make sure I’m not singing in a fusion of panjhindlish.
Swami Baracus: As a fellow hip-hop fan, who are your top five rappers of all time?
Jay Z, Biggie, Eminem, Nas, KRS one
Jay Sean on his latest single
Can you tell us about your latest single Tears In The Ocean?
This song to me has a unique sound about it, which I feel is reminiscent of the style I showed in songs like Ride It and Stay a few years back before I signed to Cash Money. I always loved this style of melodic and emotional r’n’b, where the production was a fusion of soulful r’n’b and ethnic leaning instrumentation and musicality, which is a part of my Indian culture. That emotion is something very genuine.
How does this song compare to others you have done?
Recently I have been predominantly releasing up-tempo feel good pop songs. I have been dying to return to some of those melodic emotional r’n’b slow jams that I know my fans also love as well as they are my favorite type of songs to write and sing.
Who are you hoping connects to the new single?
My fans who are familiar with songs like Ride It and Stay will love the entire Mistress project. It’s all emotional and sexy and that is honestly where my hearts at. As a songwriter I am able to write songs across the board, from country to pop to dance to r’n’b, but really The Mistress II and Part 1 is who I really am as an artist and my true fans know that.