WILL JAY was a member of a boy band named IM5. In that time they performed more than 200 shows around the United States and Canada. Will arranged all the band’s YouTube covers, mashups and was the sole writer for their most popular iTunes release, “Heartless.” He left the band to pursue a solo career and has been fortunate enough to carry the support he had in the band with him to his solo endeavor.
He has been proactively recording and writing for the last year and is releasing his first song to radio, “Gentleman,” Produced by Mikal Blue followed by the release of the Gentleman EP in May 2016. He will be embarking on a 6 weeks national tour beginning in late May as well.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had the pleasure of catching up with the talented musician. Enjoy Nicole’s chat with WILL JAY below!
Hey there Will! Where does our interview find you today? What’s on the agenda besides our interview?
I’m actually just getting back from a recording session! I spent 12 hours there writing & arranging a new song. Now, I’m taking a break from finalizing the artwork for my EP, which comes out on May 16th!
For those not as familiar with you and your music, Will…who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
Honestly, I’ve been in music for as long as I can remember. My uncle is a piano teacher, so I probably started taking piano lessons before I could read. I always wanted to be onstage; whether it was in musical theatre, choir, or open mic nights I was there.
Technically, I started writing songs at the age of 11, however the first song I would dare play for anyone I wrote when I was 15. “Musical gypsy” is a stretch, but I definitely wouldn’t mind touring more & getting to meet the people who support me all across the country as well as internationally.
Will, can you tell me and our readers more about your experience as a member of boy band IM5 and starring on The Voice in Asia? You’ve come a long way paving your own path now as a solo artist. What did you learn during that time that helped you in the growing process as a solo artist?
Being in a boy band is definitely a crash course in how the industry works. I quickly learned that so much more goes into the music business than the actual music itself, from photo shoots, interviews, filming music videos, touring, etc.
“Having an artistic identity when you’re in a group also takes a backseat; it wasn’t until leaving the group that I really started to come into my own as a solo artist, however the experience I had in IM5 was priceless & made me a lot farther along in the process.”
Going on The Voice of China was a very similar experience; I wasn’t singing my own songs & was basically stripped of all artistic control. That being said, The Voice definitely was the catalyst for me in terms of what I want to do musically & figuring out my true career goals.
Who have been your inspirations growing up that also inspire you today?
My non-musical inspirations are definitely my parents. From Day 1, they’ve been my biggest supporters; I can’t even imagine the hours they’ve spent driving me back & forth from the studio alone.
I’m also very grateful for my friends, as they’re also pursuing careers in entertainment & motivate me to be the best I can be as well as keep me level-headed.
“Musically, my main inspiration is Elton John; his musicianship & the versatility in his music is something I strive for. I also cite the Beatles as a huge inspiration for giving me a real appreciation for the heights that pop music can reach.”
Please tell me more about the inspiration for your latest single, “Gentleman” (produced by Mikal Blue). What inspired you to write that beautiful song?
I find that most of my songs come from “what if” moments; I’ll sit down & ask myself “what if” & let my imagination fill in the rest. With Gentleman, I was asking myself what if I wrote a song that was an ode to the gentlemen left out there. I had my guitar & wrote the chorus in about 20 minutes; I immediately played it for my mom, who’s usually a woman of few words, & she told me it was the catchiest thing I’ve ever written.
“Chivalry isn’t dead & nice guys don’t finish last, at least to me. For this reason, “Gentleman” is a perfect introduction not only to me as an artist, but as a person & what I stand for as well.”
The video for “Gentleman” is so sweet. How much fun was it filming the video? Did you help come up with the treatment (idea) for the video?
Thank you so much! The video treatment was my idea: I wanted the video to highlight a first date from beginning to end, starting at her house, moving to an old-school diner, and ending back at her house.
“I’m also very inspired by Old Hollywood, particularly Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly, so I thought the throwback concept of the song could benefit from some dancing from that era as well.”
I have to give a shout out to my friend Brooke Maroon who co-starred in the video with me, Anthony “Kanec” Carr for choreographing and Redwall Entertainment for directing the video; I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out & the reception has been lovely.
Nowadays, everything is so instant…you press a button and it’s yours ala Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud etc. What was the first album you saved up your hard earned money and bought for yourself?
The first album I ever bought for myself was actually the American Idol Season 5 compilation album. I knew that album inside & out; my personal favorite was Elliot Yamin’s “Moody’s Mood For Love.”
“I credit American Idol for introducing me to some great music at a young age that I never would’ve been exposed to, particularly the greats of Motown like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.”
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
I want to answer this question accurately, as I fall in love with songs on an hourly basis, so I actually asked my mom what songs I loved when I was a toddler & she told me that I would listen to The Sound of Music soundtrack every night to fall asleep.
Also, the first song I ever sang on stage was “Edelweiss” so I would say technically that’s the first song I fell in love with.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
I really have quite the eclectic playlist & my music taste changes by the day; some days I’ll listen to only 90’s hip hop (A Tribe Called Quest, Nas), whereas other days I’m a country fanatic (Kacey Musgraves, The Band Perry).
Most recently I’ve been listening to more alternative bands like Panic! at the Disco and The 1975. I always gravitate towards the bonafide singer-songwriters as well, such as Hozier and James Bay.
What’s on tap next for you, Will? What are you most excited about for this year?
To start, my first EP is coming out May 16th! I’m beyond excited to finally have a body of work to share with everyone. I’m subsequently going on a 30-city tour across the US, which will also be my first tour as a solo artist. I’m definitely excited to see how the music I’ve worked so hard on for months is received.
This year has already given me a lot of firsts, & I’m hoping that I have even more in the coming months!
To stay connected to WILL JAY , visit his socials below!