Get To Know: UK Folk-pop Artist Jay Moussa-Mann

How do you feel your personality has been portrayed through your music? 

That’s an interesting one. I’m sure some personality is always coming through but I see so much of music as storytelling. One of the problems I’ve come across in the past with songwriting is that audiences assume every song is about you or is a reflection of you, but so often I’m telling someone else’s story, or telling a bigger story and finding a smaller personal connection in it. For example, a lot of listeners say they find my songs calming, but I write them out of anxiety and often the depths of despair. So what is that coming through to the listener? It’s not the state I was in when I wrote the song. I do think elements of who I am spill over into the songs and the way I present them. 

Growing up have you always been very musical or was this a talent you discovered as you started to grow up? 

I was always singing and making up songs as a child. I loved musicals and watching other people sing. I remember seeing The Sound of Music for the first time and not being able to stop thinking about it; the story, the songs. I was inevitably drawn to music all the time. I started writing properly when I got a guitar around the age of 10 but I feel I’ve come quite late to the party. Although I’ve written songs and performed in one way or another my whole life, I’ve only felt I’ve developed as a producer and songwriter in the last few years. I grew up all over the place, which is a wonderful thing, but it can mean you’re not exposed to pop culture and trends in the same way as other kids or are ever really challenged in your style. It also means you don’t have a group of friends or society around you that you’ve had all your life. That is both freeing and a challenge musically. 

Being a filmmaker as well as a songwriter, do you believe one of these has helped influence the other at all? 

I can’t seem to separate the visuals from the music. When I write songs, I see them; like little scenes in a film. Songs have always meant more to me when I know their story and what better way to elevate a song’s meaning then by creating a film around it? Not everyone needs visuals and story to enhance music but I do and I want to be able to do that for my listeners. I’ve started to create stop motion videos around recent releases and it brings the songs to life for me. My dream is to make mini drama films as music videos for some of my songs in the future. 

Growing up in the Mediterranean surrounded by a fusion of cultures and experiences… how has having that behind you shaped you as an artist?

I feel so lucky to have grown up in the Mediterranean, near the sea, in blistering heat, going to the outdoor markets on Wednesdays, being surrounded by crowds of chatter and life. I miss it sometimes so much it physically hurts. I think the world there is so emotionally rich, the people are so full of life and they filled me with so much inspiration. I was hugely influenced by Turkish Pop music growing up but also traditional folk music (Bahar by Kardeş Türküler is one of my all time inspirations) It has all had an influence on my music whether it be the chords I choose, the themes or the time signature which is often very different to Western music. Apart from music, I do think growing up outside the West means you are often exposed to the harder sides of life. Not that things are worse but they seem more visible and shared. You see raw pain and death more out in the open.  It’s not as taboo, emotions are allowed to exist and be discussed in a way they often aren’t here in the UK. I know that definitely affects my writing. I think for some my emotions through song are TMI, but when you’ve experienced some of the things I have, it becomes part of who you are. 

You are a unique artist, where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I take ideas from watching people, from stories I read, from my past and, weirdly, from my fears. 

When did you start writing such raw and vulnerable lyrics in your music? 

I’d always used songwriting as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions. But I used to really censor my own songs, I’d never get too real with them. I started being a bit more honest in 2016 but 2020 was when I really started to let those feelings out. 

What can people expect to hear from your second album set for release later this year? 

The Breakup Album is a collection of songs all based around the idea of breaking up with someone. It was the only way I could process what I felt about the whole world in 2020. One big breakup. Not just divisions in society, but I felt myself separating from things, people and ideals that just hadn’t been true to me and that I no longer felt true to. The album is wistful but uplifting, I call them 90s pop songs produced with simplicity; guitars, keys and stripped back string arrangements 

Will you be releasing any more singles on the run up to your album being released? 

Definitely got another something planned just before or with the album release! So stay tuned! 

The new single ‘Tell Me’ from Jay Moussa-Mann is out now on all major digital platforms to stream & download!TO EMBED: Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBvg1XdIP9E

Follow Jay: Youtube | Instagram | Website

Author: Greg Fairley

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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