Music

5 things you should know about Justin Jay

Find out all you need to know about Justin Jay and lose yourself in an exclusive Karma VIP mix.
By Chris Parkin
4 min readPublished on
Black Butter’s new signing Justin Jay

Black Butter’s new signing Justin Jay

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The same week that 22-year-old Justin Jay began university in Los Angeles he also kickstarted a parallel career as a big-name producer and DJ, getting his first demo signed to Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird imprint. Since then Jay has received praised from Disclosure, Tiga and Jamie Jones, toured the world, released a slew of club tracks and yet he still managed to graduate.
Jay's latest single Karmawas released by the UK's all-conquering Black Butter label and sees Jay breaking from house and techno bangers for a second to make lush, beat-grazed pop music with two university friends from the other, singer-songwriter end of the musical spectrum. Scroll down to read all you need to know about this rising star.
Listen to an exclusive Karma VIP mix by Justin Jay in the player below.
Writing Karma was a songwriting education for Jay I've never been pushed so far out of my comfort zone musically. I'd never produced original vocals, recorded vocals, recorded guitar. If I'm making a house record and I'm making an acapella, then I might repeat three or four words over and over for five minutes, which is so different to having multiple verses, a bridge, back to a chorus. Figuring out how to really produce songs has been this crazy learning experience and I couldn't have have done it without my friends.
'My interpretation of karma is very practical.'
He's on a spiritual journey I'm probably too young to have figured things out; I need more soul-searching journeys in the rainforest and mountains to figure stuff out. But my interpretation of karma is very practical. Like, when I'm down in the dumps I can feel the negative energy coming my way. On the flipside, when I have a positive mind-set I find myself meeting positive people and better things happening. It's self-fulfilling.
He owes his music career to college parties I definitely spent my fair share of nights hunkered down making music. But what was really great was having that college environment – the social element – to test out music. I would get home from class, have dinner, work on a song for a couple of hours, finish it by midnight, then run over to a college party and test it out and see how people reacted. I'd leave immediately, stay up until 5am making edits, and… boom! I'd finished a new song by Friday night. That was really incredible.
Claude VonStroke is Jay's unofficial mentor When I started my first week of college is when I first heard back about a demo I'd sent to Dirtybird. Claude sent me a message saying, 'Yo dude, I really like this song, keep on sending me more music'. That was the most profound, dream-come-true moment of my entire life. I was freaking out and it kicked me into high gear. The next week I had a new demo, and asked what he thought and he said, 'Hey man, it's cool but not really for me'. Next week: new demo, same response. It took me 10 months until I got my second track signed to Dirtybird, but those 10 months were like music bootcamp, learning how to become a better producer technically and creatively.
'When I heard Digital Love, then all of Discovery, I was blown away.'
He's only making music because of Daft PunkI was a little too young to really understand what I wanted to do, but when I was eight I heard Daft Punk's Digital Love. Prior to that, my dad played smooth jazz radio in the car, which played all these cheesy love songs but also really dope soul, funk and disco. When I heard Digital Love, then all of Discovery, I was blown away because it felt so familiar with all the disco and soul samples, but it also felt so new because of the electronic component. I wasn't able to contextualise it as house or whatever until later, but it really planted a seed.
Justin Jay is on Facebook.
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