Saturday, 11 August 2012

#ESPspotlight Interview with...JAYA!


I have been intrigued with this Lady since we were first introduced for a Deer Oh Deer Ltd. collaboration last Autumn. Sure, she's jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with impeccable, one of a kind style and y'know, sings a bit here and there; but more than that, it was her approachability and downright wackadoodle nature, that made her endearing.

Since that time, I've had more than a few fun encounters with her and I can honestly tell you that I have never once been bored! Like Deer Oh Deer's beloved Founder Charli-Anne and I, her nature is instinctively creative in the most stylish of ways, but bottom line you never see her without a smile and that infamous Positive Mental Attitude that you automatically assume is chemically-induced, when described in Self-Help books.

Brit-Asian crossover Artist Jaya is a triple-threat of an entirely different kind. She sings, she writes and she lends her name to Charitable works that would have a far more difficult time spreading their message without a multi-talented Force of Nature, fighting their corner.

Pull up a comfy cushion for chat full of Eastern Promise...

Welcome Miss! It's long overdue but I finally have you in my weekly hotseat! Let's get straight to the good stuff...

1. From the very first time I met you, before even - I've been taken with the way you use Social Media to showcase your personality and interact with your audience. What inspired you to harness it as your biggest promotional tool?

I want to inspire people and the only way that I can do that, is if I really showcase who I am and how I am. My biggest thing has always been that people have pre-conceptions. A lot of the time, because of how I look, before they've even spoken to me, people assume that I'm not approachable. They had a lot of ideas in their head of what they think I'm like...I wanted to try to break that as much as I can and just really show that I'm a girl from London, living her dream; I'm trying to represent being Indian, I'm trying to represent being UK...It's not easy, but if I was going to showcase my personality, it would have to be done in my own way. Through Music, I'll always have interviews and be doing bits and bobs but I thought it's Me and I want to do something that I've set up, where I get to showcase the parts of my personality that I think people are really going to get and respond to. I didn't want to do it in a typical way and the thing with YouTube - all Social Media, is that people like me really have an opportunity to be themselves and do things their own way. I think that when a record label doing it, it's not organic. It's almost too set-up; they're trying to show you in the way that they want you to be seen, instead of how you really are.

2. So you ran around town and got up to all these antics for things like your London Diaries, but what's the most unusual thing that's happened as a result of your Social Media interaction?

Y'know what it is? I do things on YouTube and I forget! Then someone reminds me and I think "Oh my God, yeah I really did do that..." It gets kind of embarrassing, but yeah...I did all that stuff! I don't know if it's unusual...but when I was doing the 'London Diaries' - which was basically me going out and having someone film me, having my Guitarist with me and the plan was literally just to meet up and I sing in random places - nothing more! I didn't know where I was going to sing, I didn't know what was going to happen! I did think that there might be some people that are not going to enjoy this and some people that might be a bit standoffish, but I didn't expect it to be so bad! There were some places that I performed that day which weren't actually put up; but of the ones that I did, you can see - on the Justin Bieber cover, people were just ignoring me, ignoring the fact I was outwardly singing, loudly! People were just acting like they didn't see me and I found that really strange and really weird, but also really funny at the same time. You see a girl on the bus expect some sort of reaction. Any type of reaction! Whether you're swearing at me to stop singing, or applauding was literally that everyone pretended that I just wasn't doing it and I think everyone felt a bit awkward! I don't know what the case was, but that was definitely the funniest and most awkward situation that I have ever been in!

I think it also made me realise how people really are when things are in their face. The bus thing was awkward because there were so many people; but the reason the building site tops that in a way, is because I was in a place where I knew I wasn't supposed to be! The bus, I could get away with, because what's really going to happen?! No-one's really going to kick me off for singing...well I was hoping that would be the case anyway! But the building one I was feeling brave... I'm one of those people that the older I get, the more I like to live in the moment, because life is too short! When the guy walked in; I don't know if the camera caught the true expression on his face, at first he was just like "What..." and then he just started trying to blend in like we're not there and just carried on working

I did a few on trains and people actually found me on twitter just from doing that. They were just like "Were you the girl singing on the train?!" It's just so strange how Social Media works in that sense. You can see something and if you search enough, you can find that person and for me that's so amazing. It's the coolest thing ever. I loved doing that and I'm definitely going to be doing more of those in the future

3. You and I can't not talk Fashion. I happen to know that you love to differ from the norm in your choices! What do you hope to do with your love of fashion that you haven't yet and what do you think that your style says about you?

Of course we have to, you know me and my fashion! I would hope that with my Music, my fashion grows, I hope it evolves. My Music is always a reflection of what I'm doing and the things I'm around, the kind of things that I'm interested in at that moment and so the fashion always interlinks with that. Obviously, fingers crossed, that my Music progresses and as it goes further and further, I've always wanted to be more than 'just' a Singer. I would hope in the future that I would have my own shoe line, that's something I've always been really passionate about that I really want to do...

...In terms of what I think my fashion says about me...I think if you know me and you see the way that I dress, it kind of all makes sense! A lot of people say that I'm quite crazy, I'm a bit weird, I have a crazy sense of humour (she really does - E); I'm very loud, and a lot of that is how I dress! I've always got bright lipsticks on or I'll have a splash of colour on my shoes. As a person, I like to not always do what I should be doing; I prefer to be outside the box. I don't really like to follow trends. If I'm into something that I want to wear, I'm not going to suddenly start following what everyone is doing. My personality and my fashion are exactly the same in that sense. I've always been a big lover of Urban Music and Culture because I live in such an Urban area, I still have a lot of those tendencies in me, so when I'm looking at footwear, I always go for the trainers, or the Dr Martens, or the Converses. Sometimes, when I'm feeling like I want to be a bit more girly, I'll reach for the heels but generally, I like to feel a bit tomboy-ish but still be a bit Pop. I like to mix it up. I go through phases. If it was like, 2 years ago I was in that girly mode, I was in that phase, whereas now; as my Music and personality grow and change, I literally am a reflection of the kind of things that I'm into at the moment. I injured my ankle about a year and a half ago and so that forced me to start 'experimenting with flats'...after that, I don't know why I ever wore heels! Now when I do, I just ask "WHY do I do this to myself, is it really necessary?!" I still do love my heels and my ankle boots. I've also got my wedges which for me is like, the 'In-Between Shoe', the best of both. But, I would say that my style is very tomboy-ish; Vintage meets Pop - that would kind of sum me up.

4. You cover a lot of diverse Artists in your video covers. For those looking to write / produce for you, what guidance should they take from your selection?

When you look at my Music, even the stuff that I've done for myself, a lot of the stuff that I perform is not on YouTube in that sense. If you've ever come to a gig or seen my song selection, the covers that I do, you'll see it's quite obvious that I love Urban Music. It's not until I started getting older that I started opening up in terms of what I was listening to. I started listening to Pop, I started listening to Rock until those kinds of sounds influenced me as well. So when you listen to Music that I've written and recorded, that's what you're going to get a taste of. You're going to get Urban Music, but it's also going to have a bit of Pop, it's going to have that British Dubstep sound. My sound is always evolving, it's always changing because what I like and the things that I'm experiencing are always changing. So looking at my YouTube stuff, just expect an evolution of whatever you're watching at that time.

5. How did you become an Ambassador for the British Asian Trust and what do your duties and responsibilities entail?

British Asian Trust Website

They approached me, basically the same way that you did for Deer Oh Deer and said "Look, we like what you're doing and would like to have you onboard to represent what we stand for..."

I'm very picky when it comes to aligning myself with Charities and any sort of brand because I feel that it has to make sense. There are millions of Charities that are all doing a great job, but if I'm going to endorse you, it has to make sense; it has to be something that I'm really passionate about and I'm actively going to want to do things to support. It's impossible for me to do that with all of them, but I felt that if I was going to align myself with someone, it would be with someone like the Asian Trust because the work that they do is so amazing and it's something that I can really get behind, support and put my all into. I've had the privilege of aligning myself with other great brands and that's just been one of them. I'm proud to be able to represent them. Even if it's in a small way, I feel like I'm making a difference

They don't really ask for much. My relationship with them is still in the early stages so we're still working on what would be the best way for me to continue what it is that I can do. But as it stands, I just keep a tab on what they're doing, if there's any issues of importance I talk about it on Twitter...just keep spreading the word, really. With most Charities, what they prefer is not so much giving money, but more about saying "This is our message, can you help us spread it so that everybody knows about it". That's how the support begins and that's how people can continue on with it, because they understand the message. So that's my job, to be a Spokesperson for Charities like this and get their message out there the best way I can.

6. I know that you also do some other awareness-orientated projects. What other types of projects would you like to get involved in?

I would definitely like to get my hands around some beauty brands. I'm such a fan of make up and I think it's such a work of art through the things that they choose. It's such a subconscious thing; you might go into a shop and pick up a lipstick - you might not think you're doing anything, but you might pick a pink, but the shade that you choose, the finish...there's so much to think about when you're doing these things. 

I'm lucky enough to have started a relationship with MAC, which has always been my favourite make up brand, but I'm very eager to align myself with high street brands as well. 

There's a few out there that are inexpensive, but really good quality so I would love to maybe have the best of both worlds by supporting a really good high-end brand, but also something that my fans can afford as well, that I can encourage

My plan was always to have my own make up line at one point because I don't think there's one that really caters for Asian women, skin colours and skin tones. So I think it would be really cool to align myself with certain brands just to get that knowledge as to how it's actually possible and to support companies like Sleek; brands that really support and encourage Women of Colour.

JAYA in custom Deer Oh Deer Ltd. accessories
 for her ILUVLIVE performance, November 2011

I still haven't really aligned myself with a Clothing brand, which is something else that I think would be really cool, but all these has to be organic. As much as we're in a business and it's so hard to keep things that way because you're always thinking "I want this, how can I get there?

I think if you spend enough time with things like clothes and people from the brands, then a relationship will just form. The person will understand you and you'll understand their clothes. I think that will be something that I take my time with a bit more; but Make Up, Clothes...those are the things that I really want to get my name attached to in the future.

7. Having toured with N-Dubz and Peter Andre; what is the most valuable lesson that 'tour life' taught you?

I think being on tour and just performing anywhere...Tours are the best because you know for like a month, you're going to be performing consistently. You know you're covering the whole of England, whereas standardly, you might perform here one night, then it's a month before you're performing somewhere else...But for me, touring has just taught me to live in the moment. When you tour, sometimes it's the first time that you've ever gone to these Cities and the first time some of these audiences are ever hearing your Music so you have to give it 100%. That feeling when someone first hears your song or sees you perform and they welcome you and really embrace you - you can't put money on that feeling. I remember going to some Cities and places and thinking, I've never even been here in my life, but I've come on stage and the audience are making me feel like I live in their town and that town is celebrating me. Because I went through a lot of struggles after touring and also a lot of things that I was going through musically, I always tell myself, if I'm ever going to tour again, to always live in those moments; because those are the ones that keep me going. Those are the memories and experiences that keep me pushing and working hard, because I always want to be back in that moment, back on that stage and back in these Cities, performing for those people. 

8. What has been the hardest part of your journey so far and what one stage of the process would you make easier for crossover Artists following in your footsteps?

I'm one of those people that, if I'm going through things the first time that you will hear about it will be in my Music. Up until that stage, I don't really like to talk about it. So there's definitely been a lot of things that I've been going through over the last couple of years, since leaving my record label and trying to find my own feet musically and as a person. When you've been doing something for so long that hasn't really been done - there's never been an Indian female to really make it in the mainstream - you get so many voices in your head, telling you it 'can't be done'. The biggest thing that I've had to deal with is a lot of negativity, rejection and really putting my all into something that ended up not working out. I think it's just a testimony to how much I really love what I do, that I keep going and I'm still here; because there's been a lot of moments where I've just been thinking "Is it really Worth It?" But I quickly find out that it is, because I don't know anything but Music - I don't know what else I would ever do. Rejection is something that even if I make it big, will always be there because I think this barrier - being an Asian Artist, an Indian female trying to do Pop or mainstream - is always going to get bigger. The more successful I get, the more people are going to try to put it in front of my face. 

It's so important just to know yourself. When you truly know yourself, nobody can tell you anything! People can say to me, "Oh you're not going to make it, you're not good", but I know myself and my talent, I know what I can do; so bad stuff - it goes in one ear and out the other. I think that a lot of the time, when you're trying to do something different, regardless of your background it's going to be difficult because everyone's going to have this box and if you don't fit in it, then they're not really going to understand what to do with you. But it's just about knowing yourself and understanding that 'This is Who I Am and This is What I Want To Do'; to really explain that as clearly as you can through your Music and any medium that you use to speak to your fans. I think the clearer that message is the more people will support you, because at the end of the day, being a Musician is for your Supporters and your Fans. It's not for the record label, it's not for anybody else. It's for people that really support you and buy your records...I have people that follow me on Twitter; they were supporting me from three years ago and they still talk to me today. It makes me think, 'this is really crazy'; these people have been following me for three years non-stop - that's who you do it for. So just Know Yourself, Be Confident and just Never Give Up. That will always separate the people that are really successful from the the people that just give up. They don't know themselves so get influenced by people trying to change them into what they think they should be. 

9. When I was looking through your Press Kit, I happened to come across an Amazon screenshot and who do I see but Lil Miss Jaya, Number 4 on a top six chart full of some of the biggest female names on the planet; topped by Jennifer Lopez, peppered with Nicole Sherzinger, Adele, GaGa and capped by Jessie J...Would you mind explaining yourself there, please?!

I'm still trying to explain it to myself! The amount of times I have had to pinch myself...As soon as I left my record label, I released a song Independently, but I was really scared because I had just come from a situation where I wouldn't say that I had a lot of money, but I had a big machine pushing everything that I was doing, then suddenly there I was, trying to do it by myself, without that support and without that big name behind me and I didn't know what was going to happen...But we released it and it peaked at Number 3 on Amazon's Best Seller list!

I didn't even realise that anyone even knew that happened! I remember I was in a studio session and my Manager messaged me saying "Go and check your email..." I was just like; "I'm writing, I'm in my mode, man, what the hell?! I don't want to go on email!" But he said "No, Jaya - You're GOING to want to see this!" So then my Producer started pulling up the screen and you know when you're thinking that someone's blatantly Photoshopped it? I kept refreshing the page because I thought someone was trying to play tricks on me! I kept googling it, just doing everything that I could think of to make sure that it was real...I just couldn't understand how my song had charted in between all of those amazing, big Artists?! It just goes to show that someone out there really does like my Music

10. So what are you working on at the moment and what can we expect from you in the future?

At the moment, I'm working on my new Music. For me, it's the foundation to everything that I do, so right now I'm making sure that it's done and everything is where it should be. I'm not really performing, I'm not really doing any of the things that people think I would be, seven years into this Music thing! But as I said, I left my record label and just doing things for myself, it's taken me awhile to figure things out creatively. I went through a period where I couldn't write and I couldn't be places because I just didn't want to force it. I've never forced my writing, I've never forced that side of me because I think it's just not fair on my fans to do something that's false or fake. But I'm back now and in such a good space with really amazing people supporting what I'm doing; so I'm ready to get back in the studio and start writing. As soon as that's done, you guys will see me back on stage and at the events and everything. So Music is what's taking up all of my energy at the moment; writing and recording... 

In the meantime, I'm doing a whole #JayaTuesdays series, which is literally going to be covers of songs that are relevant, but also some songs from the past that have influenced me, or that I've grown up listening to. There will be one every two weeks, so that's something that people will hopefully look forward to...

A massive Thank You to the lovely Jaya for braving this week's hotseat! As you have now seen for yourself, she is truly a wonderful young lady that I'm looking forward to working with again soon - WATCH THIS SPACE!

To interact with Jaya directly and enjoy her works, why don't you Get Connected?

Instagram: JAYAWORLD / JayaWorld (Website)

Many Artists are more comfortable with record labels and spokespersons being the driving force behind their public interaction, even in this era of Social Media overload. Are you for or against using it as your own promotional vehicle

As always, leave your feedback in the comment box below!

Now, I'm off to enjoy the Sunshine - see you soon!
ES ;o)