Not two years ago, Jay Wile first grabbed our attention with a slinky yet intimate cut of R&B he called “Numb.” It emerged from his 2017 debut Blue Patio EP, which, in deliberate tempos (“Wittme”) and thoughtful textures (“Honest”), announced the arrival of a deft singer, songwriter, and vibe-maker. And lo, he continues to deliver.
If the sumptuous Blue Patio was crafted for a slow-falling dusk, Wile’s latest Bloom Series belongs to the wee hours. From the swaggering “Help Myself” to the beatific “2AM,” these new tracks swell with frisky beats and a self-possessed flow, each inching toward an euphoric sunrise. Really, the EP could not have come better titled. Its contents are bound to thrive in the dawning summer light, and its maker’s groove-driving gifts are, well, in full bloom. Check it out for yourself below and meet us on the other side.
Having made his round on live stages last year, the Austin-based artist is poised to conquer the rest of 2019. Besides dropping Bloom Series, he’s hinted at additional new music this year, plus more live dates. “I really want to hit the road and meet new supporters and get a chance to play music for them,” he tells us. Before he gets super busy, Wile let us in on his rap roots, his production processes, and his work space, which apparently is as neat as his rhymes.
Hello Jay! We’re absolutely loving your new track “2AM”. What’s the story behind its creation and production?
“2AM” was a fun record to make. I wanted to capture that moment when it’s closing time and you’ve enjoyed the time you’ve spent with someone. In this case, the woman the song was mentioning didn’t want to leave her friends behind. So I gathered some friends to join me on the song, so we could all hang. I produced the majority of the track, and brought in some friends to help shape the bass/drum patterns around the synth I made using Omnisphere. I got my verse and the hook down pretty quick, but I figured the track called for some guest features. I reached out to Omenihu, who helped me play my first show and drove up to his house in Austin after work. I played him the beat and he sat down and recorded his verse right there on the spot. It was magic the way he killed his verse.
Fill us in on how the rest of Bloom Series came about.
It’s a collection of some songs I worked on all last year with a few different collaborators. I’ve been really working on collaborating with others and finding the sweet spot of developing my own sound, while incorporating ideas from other producers, engineers, and writers. These songs were a lot of fun to make. They are definitely more high energy than the mood of Blue Patio, perfect for the summertime.
And while we’re on it, what was especially instructive for you during the experience of making the amazing Blue Patio?
Blue Patio was a cool experience to make! I recorded at my parents’ house while they were out on vacation before heading back to school for the semester. It was so clutch that I had a quiet space to work out of to record and mix.
What was the moment that made you decide to make your own music? And what kept you going?
I started making music about 10 years ago in high school. I started a rap group with some of my friends, but shortly after, I realized rapping wasn’t for me. I started learning how to sing in my freshman year by listening to artists like John Legend, Phonte, and Stevie Wonder. Deep down, I knew there was always room for improvement, so I kept going and trying to get better and learn more about music.
Take us behind the scenes of your songwriting process. What about songwriting gives you the greatest satisfaction?
Songwriting can be tricky. I’ve learned there’s no one way to complete a song. Sometimes a song can write itself in that moment, like “Honest” and “Numb.” Other times, songs take forever to form and be complete, to the point where I feel like they’ll never get done. It really depends on the moment, the song itself, and what I’m trying to say on a record. The greatest satisfaction I get from songwriting is when someone says that the music touches them and makes them feel something. It makes all the work and stress it takes to create a song worth it.
Your tracks from “Numb” to “Help Myself” are plain rich with solid-gold vibes. How do you set the mood in your own studio or working space?
Making sure a space is comfortable is key for me. The space I work in impacts my mood and vibe for a session. So I’ll make sure the area I’m going to be working in is clean and clutter-free. Typically, I’ll move furniture around and set up keys or whatever I’m working on just right before I get started. I like to be organized and set up before a session starts, so I don’t get frustrated.
How has Austin, being such a musical hotbed, been inspirational to your craft or helpful in growing your career so far?
Since I was a kid, I was always fascinated about moving to Austin. I loved they always had concerts and festivals all the time, and I wanted to be right there in the action. I moved here at the beginning of the year with my roommates to be closer to the network I started to build last year with the creative scene in town. I haven’t quite tapped in fully into the scene in the city, but everyone I’ve met has been super welcoming with open arms.
We’ve also been watching you as you played shows throughout 2018. What have these early gigs taught you about performing and performance?
2018 was the first year that I’ve stepped on a stage as a solo artist. I still get pretty nervous when I step on stage and perform, but I love the rush of being up there. Seeing people enjoy themselves during my set really helps me feel comfortable on stage; it makes it so much more fun to interact with them. It really takes the pressure off that I put on myself and just allows me to really enjoy being up there and just relax.
Were there any musicians whose live shows or performances you took cues from?
I admire just about everything that Stevie Wonder does; he is an amazing musician. I always enjoy watching videos of his performances and seeing how he captures everyone’s attention with not only his voice, but his ability to play instruments as well as he does. Miguel is another artist I look up to as a great performer. The way he captures people is special and the charisma he has when he’s performing makes people lock into his every note and movement. My dream live set is a blend of those two worlds.
What really goes through your mind when you’re onstage?
I get in my head a lot on stage. I get caught up trying to remind myself to open my eyes and interact with the audience. The music and singing come naturally for me but sometimes I have to remind myself of the other parts that are important.
You’ve claimed 2019 as your year and we’d have to agree. What do you hope to achieve by the end of it?
I want to continue to discover who I want to be as an artist and as a man. I’m passionate about other things beyond the music like the environment and I want to find avenues where I can work in that space.
What comes to mind when you hear the words “Big Break”?
Making it big is relative, but my desire is to be financially and socially free to be able to make a difference in my community and inspire others to do the same. Big Break is a dope opportunity that is going to allow me to reach a ton of people and be able to share my love for the music.