An Interview With the Indian-American Pop Singer-Songwriter JAYA On New Music, Inspirations and 2020 Plans!
Meet the Indian-American pop singer-songwriter, JAYA! She’s passionate about blending her cultural heritage with her love of pop music. JAYA has released two singles so far; “Double Rainbow” and “You’re Not Getting Any.” She plans on putting out her debut EP in January which she co-produced with Alex & Alex who have worked with Andy Grammer, Sabrina Claudio and Njomza.
Connect with JAYA Online Here- WEBSITE
Learn more about JAYA in the following All Access interview-
Thank you for your time! So what does a typical day look like for you lately?
Hey hey! Thank you for asking me. Right now, I’m learning what it means to be living the dream of being a full-time singer-songwriter! I’m in major content-building mode to prepare for 2020. My typical day is an afternoon writing session with producers, followed by either another night writing session or an acoustic performance for a charity. As well as some dancing in my kitchen, game nights with friends, and writing songs alone in my bed at 2am.
Now that the year is about over, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already looking forward to in 2020?
What. A. Year. 2019 has been holding my hand through some big changes. My goals were to graduate college a year early, and simultaneously jumpstart my career as an artist. As of May, I can say I checked both those things off my list. Now, my goal for 2020 is to release a steady stream of new songs. I’m doing lots of songwriting on my own & with collaborators, business meetings, and visually creative shoots to make sure that happens!
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Honestly, the choice has always been easy for me. There’s nothing else in this world I want more than to be an international pop star. Big goal, I know. Thank God my parents are not the stereotypical Indians who force their kids to be a doctor or an engineer. I can happily say they’ve always supported my dream since I told them when I was 10.
My parents are actually both surgeons, but my dad would always sing Beatles songs on his guitar & my mom would always change the words to popular songs to narrate our activities. Growing up, I was always singing and dancing and making up plays, forcing my 3 little brothers to be my backup dancers and supporting actors. I started writing songs when I was 10, so many of them were a cappella until I learned to play the guitar well at 15. Looking back, I think my parents could tell I definitely wasn’t going to be a doctor like them, even though I had to get the grades to be one.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I’ve always thought about myself as an artist, but I do it with the purpose of education, so perhaps a teacher. Growing up in an Indian family, there’s a strong emphasis on education. You basically have to be a straight A student. Because of that, I realized there are a lot of things I’d like to fix in our education system. Students should learn life skills, like how to deal with stress, manage finances, make meaningful relationships with people, and generate long-lasting confidence in themselves. As an artist, I hope I can help educate people about these things through entertainment, activism, and by example.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
Once you get in the industry, the biggest surprise is how your view of it changes. I used to think big record labels were the be-all-end-all, but after studying music industry at the USC Thornton School of Music, I realized that it’s possible to make it with your own team as well!
A welcome challenge is the art of collaboration. As a young girl, I always wrote songs on my own in my bedroom. The past year or two has been a lot of that, but even more of finding joy in collaborating with all different types of producers and songwriters. Collaborating has become really fun for me, and I’m gaining enough confidence to hold my own in a room. The best part is making songs that I’m really proud of and getting to share that creative process with people I really like and am inspired by.
Let’s talk about your singles, “Double Rainbow” and “You’re Not Getting Any.” What was the inspiration for these? How would you say that these songs compare with your forthcoming debut EP coming out in January?
Yes! So my debut EP will actually come out later in 2020. The 2 singles from this year, as well as all singles released next year, will be compiled into 1 great project that marks the beginning of my career. YAY. I would say that “Double Rainbow” and “You’re Not Getting Any” are very love-centric songs. Look forward to songs from me that are also about identity, mental health, and friendship.
“Double Rainbow”: I wrote this when I was 15 – it’s a realization that love can’t be perfect. That’s something I learned in high school while watching my parents in their relationship. Considering I’m such an over-the-top optimist and romantic, it’s a surprisingly realistic view of love.
Honestly, this was one of those magic 6 minutes where I don’t really know what happened. I was sitting on my bed and a little gold thread of a song came in my mind. I tugged a little and the whole song came out at once. Thank God I pressed record so I had the voice memo to write it down after.
“You’re Not Getting Any”: Came up with this when I was 12. There’s a reason it sounds like a taunt. My brother was stealing some cookies and I decided to steal them back and bring out the sassy queen in me. Found the song in my songwriting folder when I was 18, and rewrote the lyrics to be about this guy in my life. He basically wanted to be more than friends without asking me if it’s what I wanted. You can hear how that went 🙂
Did anything surprise you about putting your EP together? How will you celebrate the release of it?
Yes! I was a little nervous about how the songs I’ve written would fit together in one project. They are different in concept and style, but through the production process, we were able to make them sonically cohesive. They sound like they’re all from the same artist, which they are! So I’m happy.
What has been a favorite show of yours so far? What do you think makes an ideal show for you?
Ahh, it’s hard to pick a favorite! For me, an ideal show is one where I can get the audience to really be all-in, to the point where they’re fully singing with me and dancing with each other and the room gets all warm and fuzzy. And you forget about everything else in the world except how connected you feel in this one moment. The last few charity gigs I’ve done really had this vibe, and I’m looking forward to even bigger and better in 2020.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have any upcoming tour dates scheduled yet?
Planning a string of shows in the new year! Come say hiii. Will definitely be in LA, but also going to be touring through different college campuses in California as well as playing in the East Coast.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music? What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
Ooo wow I’ve written a lot of songs since I was 10. Subject matter has definitely changed. It went from daydreaming about love and writing other people’s stories as if they were mine to confessing what’s really going on in my life. I’ve also gotten better at writing songs on the spot without waiting for inspiration to hit me.
The way inspiration takes over is still the same though. The best songs are always the ones that just magically pop into my head and I have to rush to my phone and hope I get it all recorded. Thank God for those.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career?
I mean I’m just getting started! So far, it’s helped me connect with a lot of talented artists, writers, and producers that I have begun to collaborate with. It also helps me connect with new fans that I meet at shows. At the end of the day, I want social media to feel like a warm homey place where I can connect with friends, old and new. I’m looking forward to growing that home all over the world!
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Dream Collaborators: Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, Shellback, Pharrell, Jack Antonoff, Kehlani, Amine, Frank Dukes, Ed Sheeran, Ricky Reed, Lizzo!!! These are songwriters and musicians that I study on a daily basis. I’ve looked up to Taylor Swift since I was 11. I would love to work with her and even be the opening act for her shows one day. Just putting it out into the Universe!
If you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?
I think it depends on the song! There’s always a dream attached to each one that is special. Stay tuned to see those dreams coming true!!
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
On the radio!!! KIIS FM, please. I’m going to freak out when that happens one day. Because that’ll mean I’ve finally made it into the mainstream. And people are listening to my songs in their cars, grocery stores, gyms, ETC. Goals.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
A better connection to themselves and to the Universe. I want to empower people in a big way!!!! So that they go after their own big dreams.