Hello Jay, would you like to introduce yourself to my readers?
Hi there….my names Jay James Picton. I sing, write songs, make films and eat Crunchy Nut. How's it goin…?
It’s going alright thank you. I think you’re the first person to ask me in three years actually!
Talk us through an average day in the life of you? I’m anticipating confirmation that there is a copious amount of champers, hookers and some light fingered piano tinkering by an open fire in your life? Don’t disappoint me now Jay.
Afraid not, the average day now consists of many different things - get up, feed dog, miss breakfast sidetracked by Twitter or other music-related tasks, go over to studio/office, generally organising/producing, making up plans for the next session, song or video or 1 of the other 1000 stupid ideas I have, walk dog, miss lunch sidetracked by job or video related task. 6 days out of 7 I have general meetings, sessions and promo interviews regarding next thing going on, get home stupid late miss dinner so eat breakfast. Not particularly glamorous, no champers but generally fit in a strawberry Actimel…….
You heard it here first wasps! Actimel is the new Cristal! Also, I am somewhat disappointed.
Let’s get straight into it and talk about “Heads vs. Hearts”, a three part music film which is based around four of your songs! You also wrote the project and co-directed I should add. A great idea like, but a bit fancy is it not? Was one standard music video and a buzz track not enough for Mr Picton?
No, to be honest, I kind of don't really do standard. I'd prefer to make something purposeful rather than just ticking the boxes. In a stupidly saturated market and industry full of manufactured copy and pastes and people who think they know best, I believe you have to be original and creative in expressing your work, not just for anyone else but for yourself. It’s also important to make something interesting that will connect to real people. The general concept around Heads vs Hearts was that the music tells the story, unless it’s presented to them right nowadays a lot of people don't listen to lyrics. I wrote the narrative of the film around lyrics of 4 songs that were connected by real emotion and real events in my life, with no words, just visuals in the film. People would have to engage those lyrics, story, tone and intent of my voice to really know what’s going on. In doing that, the hope was they could put themselves in the piece. There was a reason why I didn't show my face until end of part 3, I kind of thought people could put themselves in that position, see their face in it.
What has the response been like to the videos?
Overwhelming to be honest. This was really the first bit of music people had heard from me then when combined with the film I think clinched and attracted the imagination of a few people. A few certainly took note that I'm not the average artist looking for chart positions. I was also genuinely really proud of what was achieved, the end product felt like a credit to the vision I had and the hard work of everyone that worked on it.
Regardless of a positive public reaction though what “are you” hoping to achieve by introducing your music and yourself to the public in this way?
As I mentioned above, I think it’s about creating something special for yourself initially, naturally the hope would be that a mass audience would pick up on it later or look back on it, connect, relate and really believe and understand that it had come from a real but creative place…from the head and the heart, if you know what I mean (excuse the pun!).
Tattoos, you have some. And the one on your chest, “Play it by Heart” is also the name of your album. So why’d you choose to get the tattoo done and then name your album after it?
I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve and react to gut instinct and what my heart tells me. Hence 'play it by heart'.
What other Tattoos might we find kicking about your body?
I have 'your name' written on my arse.
I hope you spelled “wasp” correctly?
Back to the music and I’d like to know if the record is about someone or something or a lot of things?
It’s about someone, something and a lot of things to be honest. I'm not a massive fan of telling my life story so I hope the music will tell the story to be honest.
Can we expect any collaboration this time around?
I collaborated with Booker T. Jones on the record, which was an incredible honour, and John Legend appears playing the piano on a song we wrote. No other current plans for this record, I'm looking to get back over to the States soon to collaborate on a record with an incredible producer/writer and creative called Malay who's just finished producing Frank Ocean’s record. Other than that I'm supporting Jessie J next week so I may try and convince her into a collab haaaa.
And get Guetta to produce it just in time for Christmas! Wouldn’t that be all kinds of amazing?!
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I do think Jessie J is incredible; Nas, Jay Electronica and Danger Mouse would certainly be up there.
Where does Jay James Picton find inspiration on a daily basis for his music?
My head, my heart, real life experiences, emotions and things I see other people go through.
And which musicians have inspired and continue to inspire you to make the music you’re making?
I didn't get into music until a few years back, so I'm still learning about a lot of great artists and great songs. I'm kind of unaffected by the music of others when it comes to my own stuff, I think you and your own experiences should really be your inspiration especially when expressing. From a production element I'd be lying if I didn't mention how moved I was when hearing the likes of Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Al Green. That’s real soul music, music that was written, presented and sung from the soul to the souls of others. I connected to the presentation musically but wanted to create something that had me in there and showcased the lyrical content and mood of each song.
A song that makes your heart skip a beat?
'I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know' by Donny Hathaway
A guilty pleasure you can’t seem to quit?
Watching Grand Designs.
I told you to say reading My Portis Wasp says!!!
What never fails to make you smile?
...and Portis Wasp. Thanks buddy!
Jay James Picton's debut album Play It By Heart is out on 6th August and his new single Long May They Roll is out on 3rd September. Here are the remixes along with some sick looking artwork:
Credit: Photography by Dean Freeman