Dipping into the music promo pool can be a fairly depressing experience in 2016, when even dopes and losers like me receive 36 hours worth of music every 24 hours.
Most of the records are pretty bad, a few sound like other records you already have but every now and then you find a new artist with a unique sound you never heard before and you remember why this is worth doing.
Jay Hill was that artist for me last August, when King Street released her Dream of You EP and the sound of it has still not left my memory. We asked the Philadelphia & New York based artist to run a 5 Mag Mix for us, and here it is. (Tracklist is at the end.)
Jay Hill: The 5 Mag Mix
Jay Hill: The 5 Mag Interview
It’s been said that everyone from New York is an immigrant and everyone uses Chicago as a lobby. Where are you originally from?
Ha. I’m definitely in the category of NY immigrants. I’m a child of the sand and sea, originally from a small town between Los Angeles and San Diego on the Pacific Ocean. About five years ago I needed a major life shift as the LA scene didn’t resonate with me. I needed a place that presented more opportunities. So I got my English Bulldog and belongings in a truck and drove 3k miles. Haven’t looked back since.
Where do you spend most of your time these days?
In Manayunk, Philadelphia where my music studio and home have been for the last year. I’m very grateful to have a sacred music space to call my own. In NYC, the studio sharing situation & high rents were obstructing my creative flow. For producing, solitude is essential if you’re really going to go for this… At times I enjoy collaborations, but from the get-go wanted to learn everything for myself and not always rely on others for parts or creative input. Bringing someone in my artist space is a special thing.
Can you tell me something of your impressions of the scene in Philly & New York (even Philly vs. New York)?
After living in NY for five years, I decided it was time for another change and Philly was the perfect place. From the outside people think the scene is squashed by the stringent Pennsylvania liquor & sound ordinances (2am cutoff vs. NY’s 5am). While those are major differences, for me it was a blessing and exactly what I needed at this point in my career to dive in and become closer with music and now I’m much more of a reclusive studio hermit.
As hard as it was to leave NY, I was drawn immediately to Philly for its chill vibes, down-to-earth good people and tapping into it’s serious history with musical roots… And it’s two hours and $11 bus ride to NY or DC for my gigs there.
The other night I went to a party and wasn’t really in a social mood so I sat back in the corner with my drink and took some inventory… What I’ve noticed is the people here actually love to dance and get down without worrying about pretension or judgments. The most beautiful part – with other DJs/producers there is a common love & support crew sans any lame jealousy or competitive demeanors. Especially as a female, the Philly music family welcomed me immediately with wide open arms. I’ve never once felt my sex was an obstacle for getting booked as I have in other places.
If you weren’t DJing dance music, you’d be playing… what style? What your second love?
Toss up between a guitar-playing folk singer/songwriter, a Trip-Hop flag waiver or a moody Dub Techno Downtempo Electronica writer. I try and tap into all of those when I need a break from dance music to help balance out my headspace. Recently I bought a new acoustic guitar which is so therapeutic, practicing and working towards writing some songs again.
What’s more important: playing in a good time slot or playing to a receptive audience of any size?
Receptive audience 200%. I can’t tell you how many special, supremely wonderful people I’ve connected with who were the last dancer standing…
How long have you been producing? How would you describe your style? I think I used the word “dubby” 5 times in one paragraph. Was that annoying?
Love your honesty and great question – undoubtedly a challenger. It’s pretty complex with how one tries to fit themselves into the musical world. That sounds a bit nauseously artistic but no, “dubby” isn’t a word that annoys me. I’m intensely drawn towards dub sounds in a track, as with pads I feel they are essential for bringing depth of soulful emotion and hypnotic elements forward that captivate the listener…
In fact I have a very close girlfriend who is the wife of a Russian producer & DJ. She went to an Ivy League school. She’s brilliant. One night she shoved a glass of wine in my hand and said, “Jay please, please explain this music to me in a way I can understand it!”
To people who don’t know too much about the differences between commercial vs. underground genres, I simply say my style is club music but considered underground House & warehouse Techno. To those who know I just call it “music” so as to steer away from being put in a genre box.
It’s supremely lazy to ask DJs to “describe your style,” but… can you even? I heard an earlier set that was downtempo, and next to it a flyer from opening for Adam Beyer. These are worlds that do not often meet.
I can and its not lazy. For me, it comes down to the time & space my head & heart are in at the moment. Sometimes I’m really in the mood to write/play an uplifting “happy House” tune, others I feel like bashing out some dark afterhours Techno, and others to dig deep and explore the variety and dynamics of Ambient, Dub Tech & Chillout.
I started putting out these various mixes and sets to show that these worlds do not need to be divided. I think it’s ridiculous to be categorized and booked only because you’re known to play one sound/style. I think this has helped present more opportunities for me as I’ve been booked to play my “slow tech” at some art gallery charity events.
You’ve released records on i! & King Street. Were those boxes ticked on the bucket list and can you tell me about the latest one?
They were, in fact, and never thought for a second when I recorded the vocals for “Dream of You” that it would get signed & released by such seminal NYC House label. I was originally introduced to i! Records & King Street through my friend/colleague Deep Spelle from Montreal.
What do you have coming up next?
Production-wise, I’ve just completed eight solo tracks (demos) that me & my manager are trying to get signed on the best fitting labels. I’m taking a little reprieve on my own stuff for a new King Street remix and then back to my original material. Really hoping to get a vinyl release here one day, would be a dream come true.
Gig-wise, my plans have changed recently, I’ll be sticking around the East Coast a bit. Psyched I’ve just been booked in Philly with one of the best parties where they transformed a church into a club with a FX1 sound system where the likes of Digweed & Josh Wink have recently played. Eventually will be heading to Montreal and back over the pond to Europe. I’m flying on day-to-day feels here.
Jay Hill: The 5 Mag Mix Tracklisting
Diary of a Lonely Sailor – The Timewriter – Plastic City (2002)
Change your Life (orig. mix) – Davi – Rebellion
Mirali feat. Will Brock (orig. mix) – Jay Hill – Unreleased
In the Midnight Hour (Mat. Joe remix) – Riva Starr, Dajae – Casual records
Win My Heart (Manuel Regnet Remix) – Nick Beringer
Brothers (Alaia & Gallo Remix) – Addvibe, Easton Davis – Glasgow Underground
Chains (Matt McLarrie remix) – Iban Montoro & Jazzman Wax – Cyanide Records
Sending My Love (Alex Neivel remix) – Karmine Rosciano – Deep Site Vinylized
By Day (Mihai Popoviciu remix) – Nader – Chicago Boy Records
Keep On (John Delerious remix) – Finest Wear – Nordic Trax
Morning Prayer (orig. mix) – The Timewriter – Plastic City
Reciprocated Love (City Soul Project Remix) – Noir Music
Talking About Ghetto (DJ LeRoi Remix) – Echonomist – Mr. Carter Records
Unputdownable (Tom Demac remix) – Roison Murphy – For Club Play Only
EGo (orig. mix) – Joss Moog – Robsoul Recordings
Ur Own Shit (orig. mix) – Rhythm & Soul – Organic Music
Tell Me (Francesco Cofano remix) – Inaky Garcia & Alberto Gabilan w/Mara J. Boston – King Street Sounds
Down the Drain (Stevn.Aint.Levn remix) – Dom Samba, Zweimannzelt – Raw Underground
Dream of You (orig. mix) – Jay Hill – King Street Sounds
Published first in 5 Magazine Issue 138, featuring Dave Pezzner, Jeff Derringer, a tribute to Earl Smith of Acid House pioneers Phuture, mixes and interviews from Boorane, Jay Hill, Tim Zawada & more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music.