Posted On 06 Jun 2017
“Leading Man” is the latest single from the talented musician, Will Jay. The song tackles Hollywood’s whitewashing of Asian Americans head-on.
Will is the real deal, with 120k IG (actual and engaged) fans, etc. He’s been struggling with this issue since he was 11 (he’s 20 now). Instead of letting it deter him, he wants to start a conversation in the music world with his unique “Frank Sinatra-meets-Frank Ocean” musical sound.
Last week’s latest whitewashing mess was the movie Ni’ihau, which cast an Irish actor in as a Hawaiian hero against the Japanese (http://variety.com/2017/film/news/zach-mcgowan-cast-as-ben-kanahele-whitewashing-1202421674/). Actors such as John Cho, Constance Wu, Daniel Dae Kim, etc. have publicly spoken out about this, and now it’s music’s turn to speak up.
Will is no stranger to the music industry. From 2012 to 2014, he was a member of IM5 and performed with them more than 200 shows around the United States and Canada. He arranged the band’s YouTube covers, mashups and was the sole writer for their big hit, “Heartless.”
More recently, he has been very busy recording and writing for the last year and released his first single to radio, “Gentleman,” in April 2016. Produced by Mikal Blue: http://bit.ly/21wBBnX , the release of this track was followed by the release of his five song EP in May 2016. He went on to hit the road with his Grow Wild Tour, a 6 week national tour.
Keep Connected to Will Here:
Artist website: http://willjaymusic.com/
Learn more about Will Jay in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? How has 2017 been treating you?
I would say 2016 was a learning experience. It was my first time for a lot of things: putting out an EP, touring, doing a promotional campaign and I’m very proud of what I did but I also learned a lot about what it takes to make an impact in the music industry. 2017 has been amazing; I’ve definitely grown a lot as an artist and as a person.
Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it?
I’m actually in an Uber right now and classical music is playing; I actually grew up playing classical piano so it’s a nice change from what I usually hear on the radio.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? If you weren’t an artist today, what else could you see yourself doing?
I would say I’ve always been drawn to music. Some of my earliest memories are of me and my uncle, who is a piano teacher, tinkering around on a handed-down piano in my garage. I sought out every opportunity to perform, whether it was open mic nights, musical theater, choir, etc. If I wasn’t an artist, I would still definitely pursue something in music, like being a songwriter for other people or a composer for film and TV.
Let’s talk about your latest single, “Leading Man.” Where did the inspiration for it come from? Can you elaborate on the creative video for it as well? How involved were you with the making of it? What message do you hope it sends to viewers and listeners?
I was inspired to write “Leading Man” by what’s going in the Asian-American community right now. We’re all fed up with the fact that it’s 2017 and there are no Asian leading men or women! I came up with the concept for the video; my idea was to whitewash myself in hopes that I could show how weird it is that Hollywood is still doing the opposite and giving roles to white actors that are designed for Asians. I definitely want to inspire young Asian-Americans to speak out and make yourselves heard; race aside, the song is all about finding the confidence to unapologetically be yourself and I hope it inspires others to do the same.
What has the response been like so far for “Leading Man”? Are you surprised at all by any of the feedback?
The response has been amazing. I’ve gotten so many messages from people who are also in the entertainment industry and struggling to break out of the stereotypes Hollywood puts on them saying how inspired they were by the video. To be honest, I thought the “whitewashed” version of myself might put some people off, but the response has been 100 percent positive.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon and a full-length album of new songs even?
I’m actually plotting to put music out every month. I’ve got a ton of songs that I’ve been sitting on for too long in hopes that I’d get signed and I’ve realized that I just need to put them out. I’ve very excited to pick up where Leading Man left off and create a world for my music to live in.
Where do you think you are happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording music or elsewhere? Has this changed over time?
Right now, my focus is definitely creating. As I mentioned, I’ve got so many songs that deserve to be heard so I’m all about bringing them to life. Creating has always been my main love, however I’m beyond excited to start playing these songs live.
You have an incredible social media presence and your fans seem incredible devoted to you and your music. How do you think that all happened? Have you always been pretty active online?
My previous band was very involved with social media and I’m very grateful to have so many of our fans stick with me as a solo artist. I’ve been active for a few years now; it’s interesting how growing up with social media you learn a lot about yourself and how to let your true self shine through.
Nothing’s set in stone yet, however I’m really hoping I have opportunities to do shows and play these new songs. I just have to record them first!
Who are some of your very favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I’m inspired by a lot of artists. Musically, I’m going for a marriage between Frank Sinatra and Frank Ocean. I’d say Frank Ocean would be at the top of my list for people I want to work with along with Bruno Mars. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with a band named Caravan Palace; they do electro-swing music that’s beyond cool.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
I think the main message of my music is reinvention. Musically, conceptually, visually I want to be a blend of the old with the new, so I hope that inspires people to think outside the box and use their imagination a bit.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started on this music path? Or even to a high schooler who is thinking of becoming a singer full-time when they are older?
First of all, go for it! We live in a day and age with the Internet where you can be your own manager, marketing person, etc. You can upload YouTube covers, perform at open mic nights. If you really want it, don’t wait around. I would also tell you to balance impatience with patience; impatience in the sense that you have a fire inside of you and get things done, but patient in the sense that everything will fall into place if you keep at it.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Only to stay tuned! I’ve got so much more music coming and I can’t wait for you to hear.