Hello. I am doing amazing. Thank you so much for having me. How are you?
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Ease Up (Into Love)”?
Thank you so much for asking. It is the first single on my new EP, titled “Ease Up” and it has received great reviews. It is getting airplay, and charting on AAA, Adult Contemporary and Country Americana charts. It’s getting added to playlists as well. It’s very exciting.
The song is meant to remind people to take it easy and have faith that good things will happen for all of us in time. We might be getting used to immediate gratification and everything delivered to our doorsteps on the day we order it. It’s great. Don’t take me wrong. But, some things take a little longer to come our way. Especially, when it involves people and love, true love. I don’t think that everything can be commoditize. Though technology has been turning things upside down pretty quickly lately. And AI is in its infancy. So who knows what I will be writing about in six months… LOL. IMHO.
I am so grateful for the way the song has been received. The feedback from reviewers and listeners is that my songs, including “Ease Up (Into Love), have great melodies and grooves. They find it refreshing. They like my voice and how I arrange the guitar parts. They love the organic guitar sound that comes from the instrument itself. I stay away from sound mashups. The songs are well written, dynamic and the messages are optimistic and uplifting. I am humbled by the feedback. It’s motivating me to write and record new songs. My thanks to everyone who is playing and listening to “Ease Up (Into Love)’ and the other songs on the EP.
It’s important to mention that Brent Kolatalo (https://brentk.com/), who mixed the EP has done a fabulous job. I am so impressed by his work. He is a brilliant artist. His mixes are perfect. He deserves a lot of credits for how well the song has been received.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
It’s more a general mood that I perceive from what is happening around me rather than one event. In fact, a mood that has come down across the world it might seem. There is way too much negativity and conflicts around. It’be nice if there was none. We should keep in mind that negative headlines get us going. Some folks out there know how to push our buttons. We don’t have to get roped in. I am optimistic about the future. I wanted to share that view and provide some optimism to listeners when the world around them seem to be going from bad to worse.
Also, as far as I can remember, I always enjoyed listening to music of course, but more specifically I would get this spine tingling feeling when I heard certain songs. It’s a wonderful sensation. I also was energized by certain songs. I would feel this blast of energy and feel like I could do just about anything. I felt hopeful and positive. So, I started playing guitar and singing and writing to see if I could write songs that would have that effect on myself and other people and pass on this positive, uplifting energy. A great song can give you courage and strength. It can make the time go faster if you are on the treadmill, and slower under other circumstances. I apply myself to writing songs for that purpose and pass on great energy to listeners. The songs we listen to make up the soundtrack of our lives, like a movie soundtrack. They are in the background or the foreground at different times and they support us as we go through life. Take us back in certain scenes, takes us forward in others.
My goal is that “Ease Up (Into Love)” will give listeners great energy.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
As far as music videos, I have yet to dedicate myself to coming up with visual ideas for my songs. Considering the amount of time I spend on writing and recording songs I don’t have the time or resources to focus on videos right now. I hope my songs inspire other folks to create great videos. I am open to working with people on that, but no plans yet. I am a musician at heart. It’s all about the songs for me. Close your eyes and make up the video as you listen. I don’t have to be in it. I’m sure I will get to making videos but right now I am focused on the next round of songs. Who knows… Someone on YouTube might be inspired and put their smart phone to work. There are great videos out there. Some incredibly talented video makers. Perhaps we’ll connect. And if “Ease Up (Into Love)” becomes part of your life’s soundtrack then the video should be about your life.
Why did you name the new record after this song in particular?
Great question. All of the songs on my new EP, Ease UP, present a positive attitude towards some life event I have experienced or witnessed. I think it’s important to be positive about the future and take a step back from the differences of opinions that make the headlines. Of course, many of the issues being discussed are important and worthy of debates and conversations. Let’s converse and debate. Trading Tweets or quick jabs online, in the media, or in person is like schoolyard exchanges. Most issues are way more complex than the sound bites passed around. When you start digging seriously into how to face today’s challenges, you realize that it is not easy to solve problems. It takes time and energy. In that respect, quick online communications may turn out to be hindering our ability to think things through and do it together. Of course, who’s got time to sit for hours listening and debating issues? We should make time, I think. So Ease Up, is meant to encourage people to avoid rash decisions. Be a little more patient and have faith in the future. Don’t jump to conclusion. Take the time to work things out with people around you.
How was the recording and writing process?
I don’t start recording until I have the song completed from beginning until the end. That is lyrics, melody and structure. I like for a song to be no longer than 4 minutes, usually. I record a new song live and then put it away for a while. I try my best to forget about it so that when I listen to it again, I react to it as if I had never heard it before (or just about). This first recording is usually just voice and guitar.
Then I work on the underlying groove. Whether I work with musicians or on my own. It’s important to me to have a cool, laid back rhythm track that keeps the focus on the lyrics and the melody. Then it’s time to record the basic tracks, lead vocal, one guitar, bass and drums. Then, again, I leave all of this alone for a few weeks or longer and do my best to forget about it.
Then I listen to the song and if I am moved by it, it’s time to start another round of recordings.
It can take a while to get a final recording that way. I can spend hours trying out ideas. Eventually it all comes together. It is a tedious process. I may end up using a guitar part that came up right away but I will try as many others as I can think of before I make the final decision. My focus is always on supporting the message and the melody as best as possible. If something is cool but distracting or clearly doesn’t belong I discard it or save it for another song. The song is key.
With “Ease Up (Into Love)” it took me a while to get the bridge right. I used key changes to create a build up that brings you back to the chorus. I had more involved guitar parts initially but it worked better once I used simple arpeggios. It opened up the space for the background vocals as well.
What role does NYC play in your music?
New York City is a fantastic place. You can hear and watch so many talented performers. It’s a very humbling experience. Inspiring as well. You are constantly learning. The energy level is always high. Yet, in my experience, most everyone is approachable. You may not be able to chat with the big stars at their shows but so many great musicians will be hanging out at clubs and grabbing a slice of pizza before or after a show. I just ran into Maura Tierney (The actress in the series The Affair) in the Deli I go to almost every day. We just talked for a minute. The more you attend shows the more people you meet. It’s great.
Between learning from these talented folks and the constant flow of energy, something unique seeps through your work. I live on the upper west side where so many ballet dancers and classical musicians reside or work. I am blocks away from Julliard. I occasionally write instrumental guitar pieces that I imagine could be ballet pieces. Parts of that influences how I use guitars in my pop songs. If not in an obvious way, some subtle influences.
I believe that wherever you are, your environment will affect you. And you will affect it of course. As I mentioned, I’d like to think that I pass on some uplifting energy.
Who are your main influences as a songwriter?
There are so many. I listen to everything. Every song on every chart my songs appear on and other charts such as dance, or rap, or R&B, etc. I look at international charts as well. Then I look into the albums and listen to practically all the songs. I listen to fans’ playlists and as many others as I can. Reviewers are very helpful in pointing out other artists to check out.
When it comes to guitar playing, I would say Eric Clapton and Andres Segovia. My songs are guitar driven for the most part. I try to combine a little classical finger picking with some traditional pop song harmonies.
As far as songwriting, I enjoy what I call the mash up and collage approach of some of today’s writers. Yet, I lean towards traditional structures. I am definitely in awe of the work of songwriters such as Billy Joel, Diane Warren, Berry Gordy, Paul McCartney, Prince, Sting, Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder and so many others. I listen to a lot of classical music, Bach, Chopin, and Liszt.
Writing and recording makes you appreciate the work that goes into the process. So, regardless of the genre, I am conscious and respectful of the effort that the artists, musicians and producers put into their work. My focus is on songs more than anything else. I can’t name all the writers. There are so many.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
These days, there is a bird nesting somewhere close to my studio apartment’s window and it tweets away from about 4:30 AM to 6 AM, every day. Loud. And repetitive. There is a lot to learn from his or her commitment. I don’t know enough about birds to decipher the message but it wakes me up so I grab my guitar and play along. It inspired a few new ideas. We’ll see what comes out of that.
Lyrically, I listen to people. Their concerns, hopes, wishes, desires. What I think of all that is being discussed online, in the media, or when I meet people in person. Taking a subway ride in the New York City is inspiring. You never see the same people twice, even if you commute every day.
Any plans to hit the road?
Right now I am focused on promoting the EP, Ease Up, through interviews while I am writing new songs for my next recording session. Once the new songs are ready, I will test them out live. Get feedback from live audiences.
What else is happening next in Jay Elle’s world?
Music takes a big chunk of my time of course. It takes me a while to write new songs. But when I do find time to take a break, I like to keep up with Nasa.gov.
I read about the latest space discoveries. There is so much to learn about the universe. Sometimes I think it would be great to find and visit another habitable planet but we would have to be much better at respecting and protecting nature. Who knows, someone there might be writing and playing amazing songs…