There isn’t anything as crippling as a stereotype. Machismo culture has pressurised men to put forth their “manly” self, following which a set of rules have been made to evaluate if someone is man enough or not. For a long time, Asian people have struggled to break out from these stereotypes and showcase their talent in the mainstream media. For them, representation has been the most talked about and the most debatable topic in the entertainment industry.
But there are artists like Will Jay who are using their artistic talents to initiate the conversation. In his video “Leading Man”, Jay showcased how beliefs can overshadow talent and why it is bad in a long run. Another video of his titled “Gangsta” ripped off the conventional notions of what it means to be a man.
This Los Angeles’ artist has released several tracks that showcase his sensibility as a songwriter. His recent single is an add-on to the list.
Will Jay has recently released his single “Broke”. Accompanied by a music video and created with $0 investment, the song shows the futility of money and the unnecessary importance given to it. In a world where people don’t leave an opportunity to flaunt their dollar, Jay is ripping off the façade by placing love over money.
We talked to the artist about his journey, his goals as a singer, “Broke” and much more. Check out the complete interview below:
Hi Will! We would like to begin by talking about your music journey. So, how did the music happened and how has been the journey so far?
It’s been quite the journey! I started with IM5, a boy band, and we were signed when I was 13. I left that group at 18, went on The Voice of China at 19, and then came back to start figuring out who I was as a solo artist. It’s been quite the process but I’m at a place now where I’ve figured out what I want to say and who I am, not only as an artist but as a person.
What has been the biggest highlight of your journey? Also, what are some of challenges that you face while pursuing your dream?
There’ve been a lot of amazing moments; the most recent highlight was graduating online college at Berklee School of Music. I was studying for my degree amidst working as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles; I’m grateful that I made time to finish my education and have a diploma to show for it!
Your music might have an upbeat sound but the topics you talk about and issues that you address are both serious and sensitive. How do you perceive your art?
I’ve gotten to a point where I’m just telling my story with my art. I’m writing about the things that are important to me knowing that it’s important to other people out there. I hope to continue to write the songs that inspire people to live their best, most authentic lives.
Continuing with my third question, considering the way you’ve been using music to voice out your opinions, how did you come up with the idea of using art as a medium of rebellion?
It’s interesting to think of my songs as rebellion; I see them more as a rejection of the status quo and what I need to be as an Asian-American or as a man in 2018. I definitely plan on continuing to challenge the boxes that society wants to put me in, one pop song at a time!
Do you think that there has been some changes in terms of the representation? What are some of the challenges that Asian American artists still need to overcome to be able to present their talents in the mainstream industry?
Honestly, I think as Asian American artists we just need to believe that we can. In Asian culture, a career in the arts is not deemed practical or reliable; we need to fight to be represented and the first step comes with not giving up.
Dance seems to be a huge part of your videos and it takes the visuals on a completely different level. We would love to know about Will, the dancer too.
Growing up, I always loved Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies. The way they were able to move and entertain is something I’ve always aspired to do; I hope that I can always incorporate an element of dance in my videos because it’s when I feel the most free.
Congratulations for “Broke”! Please tell our readers a bit about the single.
Thank you! I wrote Broke late last year; I was stressing about moving out of my parents home for the first time and the new financial burden that would bring. Money is something everyone of pretty much all ages stresses about so I wanted to alleviate some of that pressure by writing a positive song about it.
The video tries to emphasize the “futile” value that money holds in people lives but we would definitely like to know the process that led to the conceptualisation of this song?
I think the video more so than the song is a reminder that money/success mean nothing if you have no one to share it with. Broke is a celebration of where you’re at now, a reminder that maybe you don’t have it all figured out in this present moment but you will one day. You’ll never get today back again so enjoy it!
A lot of your songs have a fun vibe but at the same time, there are singles like “Watercolours” that bring forth your versatility as a vocalist. Do you plan to release your demo tracks?
I would love to! I’ve got hundreds of demos in my computer; a fraction of those definitely deserve to be heard. I also think it would be fun to release demo versions of singles that I release to showcase the journey of the song.
Would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavours?
I’m continuing to write and release music. I’m so excited for the songs I have in the pipeline; they’re without a doubt my best work. I’ve got some US tour dates in the fall which I’m stoked about so stay tuned for that! Really excited for 2019 as well; I’m ready to make it happen.
Lastly, do you have any message for your fans?
I want to thank them for letting me into their lives. I hope to write the songs that take them back to a certain time and can be a soundtrack to their best memories. Thank you again and I won’t let you down!
Share your thoughts about the single via tweet @CelebMix.