An Interview With The New Jersey Multi-Instrumentalist STOLAR On His Newest Release, Working on Brittany Snow’s Campaign and More!
Posted On 30 Nov 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Bowery Ballroom, Brittany Snow, Brooklyn Hustle, Brooklyn Nets, Bruce Springsteen, Jay Stolar, Love Is Louder, Marcus Mumford, Max Martin, My Own Way, NBA, New Jersey, Paul Epworth, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Prince, Radiohead, Rick Rubin, Rockwood Music Hall, Skeleton Love, Soundcloud, Steve Connell, Stevie Wonder, Stolar, The Hotel Cafe, Thom Yorke
The multi-instrumentalist, Stolar wrote his first song at age seven. He doesn’t remember it now, but he remembers the act of writing it with perfect clarity. And since then, that’s all he’s ever done: Write, record and perform music.
Stolar grew up in New Jersey, a fact of irony as he now embraces some of the best aesthetics of the state’s most iconic singer Bruce Springsteen, and spent his youth honing his craft. He began pursuing a solo career in 2012 urged by the desire to express something more profound than he initially assumed possible in song. He realized that his experiences, the ones that have shaped him as a human being, could be used to inspire and encourage those around him in the world.
His recently released single, “Skeleton Love” introduces a bigger, broader sound for Stolar, who has charted at Top 40 Radio. His previous single “Brooklyn Hustle” become the stadium anthem for NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, and has garnered more than half a million views for his powerful video for single “My Own Way” , released in support of actress Brittany Snow’s Love is Louder campaign, which supports anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone. This hits close to home for Jay Stolar, who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder at age 20, a struggle that has led him to his mission to spread positivity through sophisticated pop.
Learn more about this talented artist in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time!
So, what’s a typical day look like for you lately?
A typical day…well, like most people I wake up and snooze my alarm a few times. Then I kiss my girlfriend, if she hasn’t left already, and stumble to the bathroom to brush my teeth. But besides those mundane details, some things that make my day different from other folks are: I practice transcendental meditation, and that for me there is pretty much no such thing as a typical day.
Depending on what’s going on I’ll be writing, recording, rehearsing, sleeping in a van, and things of that nature. For the next couple months I’m at home working on a bunch of new material, so most of my days are filled with songwriting sessions and shooting videos.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I’ve never imagined myself being anything else. Since I was in 3rd grade I can remember this being the only thing I’ve wanted to do.
Can you talk about the inspiration for your newly released single, “Skeleton Love”?
The idea of raw, real love has always inspired me. I was playing the first dance at my friend’s wedding in Carmel, CA and they had a bunch of artists perform. Right before I went, a brilliant spoken word artist named Steve Connell performed a poem with the line, “I want the skin, I want the bones, I want your skeleton love.” I played my song and then he and I had a pretty major bromance at the bar. Too many drinks later, I woke up on the floor of a hotel room and heard the chorus in my head. I ran into Steve at breakfast and we quickly finished the song.
How do you think you have grown as an artist since your singles “Brooklyn Hustle” and “My Own Way”?
On a technical level, I would say I focus more on the relationship between music production and songwriting now. Paul Simon often talks about how deeply connected his writing process is to his production process and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Another thing would be the visual and cinematic nature of my songs. Since working on developing the “My Own Way” video, I’ve been thinking of how songs can be as emotionally riveting as a movie. I don’t think I was thinking that way a year ago.
How do you think being diagnosed at 20 with bi-polar disorder has affected you as a musician?
I’m obsessed with writing songs. At the end of the day, I think it helps me work through emotions in ways I don’t even truly understand consciously. Without dealing with intense emotions, I don’t think I’d have the same kind of passion. Not that you NEED that in order to love writing songs, but for me I believe it’s a huge part. I also think, and would hope, that my experience dealing with these emotions, helps deepen and define my songs and my voice as a writer.
Can you talk about getting involved with actress Brittany Snow’s “Love Is Louder” campaign with your song, “My Own Way”? Why was that campaign important to you?
Last year I was looking for a mental health organization to align with that supported music. Love is Louder was a perfect fit. For me, the most important thing is for us to talk openly about mental health issues, which is a huge part of the Love is Louder message. The more we do that, the less of a stigma there will be for people to talk about their challenges and problems. The more open people are, the less people we will lose to mental illness.
What artists have continued to inspire you as a musician?
A few artists I look up to are Paul McCartney, Prince, Paul Simon and Radiohead. A diverse crew musically, but what they all have in common is an innate ability to emotionally connect to their audiences in so many different ways. They also continue to push the hell out of themselves throughout their entire careers.
Who would you love to work with one day?
McCartney, Paul Epworth, Rick Rubin, Max Martin, Thom Yorke, Marcus Mumford, Stevie Wonder. Can you make that happen?
What have been some of your favorite performances? How often are you playing live now?
My favorite performances really range. Recently, I played a show for 60 people at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 and the intimacy of the relationship with that crowd was incredible. The small space was packed to the brim and everyone was 100% present. I had a show at The Hotel Cafe in LA last spring that had the same energy. Intimate energy is important to me, but don’t get me wrong, I love establishing that connection with huge audiences as well. Those are just two shows that stick out.
Between now and the spring I’m only paying a couple times a month, but we’re putting the finishing touches on a national spring tour. My next gig is at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC the night before Thanksgiving. Looking forward to that one.
What do you hope is the message of your music?
Ahhh… I don’t think I can boil this down to one thing. I would hope my music connects to people in whatever way they need it to, whenever it is that they need it. That’s what’s most important to me, I don’t have a clear singular agenda for the message.
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or your music?
If you come to a show, stick around and say “hi.” I look forward to meeting you