Sitting down with Jay Bizzy to talk about his new EP Motions, before we even dive into the recent release, he tells me he already knows what’s coming next, and that he has ‘eight solid beats that are ready.’ ‘I think after this one, it would either be an EP or a mixtape. Then depending how that goes, maybe one more mixtape before an album. But I do know though for my first album, it’s gonna be hip hop, because I've got tracks in different genres as well.’ But for Motions, it’s a six-track project that features commercial elements, ‘but with a bit more just traditional hip hop’ as Jay puts it himself. Sitting down with Jay, he told me about the EP as well as where he sees his artistry taking him, as well as the many benefits of loving all music genres and letting them influence his own sound.
Is there a reason you'd want your next one to be just hip hop and move away from pop?
It’s kinda just happening really. It just depends, ‘cause when I hear a beat, I know as soon as I hear it, I can tell I’ll connect with it.
So when you start a new track, do you start with a beat or with lyrics?
I start with Melody. I’ll listen to the beat from start to finish. As I'm listening I'll just hum or mumble melodies. And then I'll just start putting lyrics to it, ‘cause for me, I kind of did everything backwards in my music journey. The way I learned how to sing was even backwards, because at first when I was 11, I didn’t have a voice, it was so horrible, singing into my phone, I was singing BAD! A lot of kids when they're 11, 12, will pencil down lyrics, then write whole paragraphs. I wasn't doing that, I was just humming, working on the actual vocal chords just singing. I only actually started working on writing lyrics down and putting sentences together when I was 18. So I just find it easier to start with melody first, and then the lyrics after. I'll really just enter that state of mind right at that moment. But it took me a while to be able to do that because I'm dyslexic. So before my writing was just bad, like I couldn’t really put sentences together.
So would that be easier for you to freestyle over a beat instead of writing it out, because of your dyslexia?
It's harder for me if anything, I don't know why, but it's just how I comprehend. My comprehension has always been a bit shaky, so I have to really think about it, to make sure it's making sense to me and making sense to the listener. But recently it’s been, compared in the past two-three years, it's just been on a roll, no hiccups really, but I guess it’s just practising.
Do you have someone that you produce with exclusively or do you work better in the studio when you work with certain people?
Not exclusively, right now so far I’ve been testing the field… I've been close to, like, finding the perfect fit, but I'm still waiting. But I don't know if I'll ever go exclusive. I feel like you could fall into a trap or become repetitive. I’d like to just switch it up. On my next project I'm working on (after Motions) I’ve got a lot of different sounds already. I've got a start, I’ve got styles I’ve sampled, like old school Michael Jackson songs, old Justin Bieber songs.
See, that's still pop,but if it's going more into hip hop, how are you going to put that together?
Because it’s hip hop beats, hip hop flows with how I'm speaking, the samples are just there to connect you to those times. What I like to do with the samples is widen my audience. No Hook, that might cater to a young Hip Hop audience but as soon as you, let's say, add a sample, you're kind of expanding your audience, or that's how I see it, you can kind of get that audience that used to listen to that particular song. You get two different audiences instead of just limiting yourself to one, potentially three if you sample something else.
what's leading you to sample pop songs, have you just found them naturally? Have you intentionally gone to find this type of music?
So one song on my next project, as soon as I heard the beat, it was the same chord progression as the Justin Bieber song that I've sampled, so in my head already, because I play seven instruments, I hear music, I don't just hear it vocally, I can hear each instrument, I’ll break it down. I’ll hear the drums, I’ll hear the guitar, the piano. As soon as I heard this beat, I heard the chord progression, it’s the exact same, so in my head, I just started humming the Justin Bieber song, and I couldn't stop fidgeting. I just downloaded the sample, put in the right time signature on the beat, it fit perfectly, and then started working. Because I can do a lot of my production myself as well. Then I'll just get someone to mix it.
Is that how No Hook started?
Yeah, pretty much all my tracks on that project, just me finding beats and then just doing stuff by myself and I just take the final product to be polished. So far that's how I've been with my creative process.
And does No Hook set the tone for what's to come? How would you describe it? What does it say about what comes next?
No Hook, I would say, I would describe it as a warmup, the whole project itself I described as a warmup.
I think the beautiful thing about what I can do, my instruments, my voice, and how I like different genres. I like hip hop, I like pop ballads, I like a bit of rock, I can blend them in a way that will appeal to everyone.
Do you think that's changing? Like it's gonna go away from strictly hip hop and people are gonna start doing that more?
Yeah it’s always gone in cycles, like there was a time when rap was taboo. There was a time where pop was taboo, there was a time where rock was the thing [that was taboo]. Everyone’s just always confused. But it will come around again, this is what happens with sounds. But then again, that's where you're gonna see true musicianship, the people that can last when it dies. That was the beauty of Michael Jackson. As each decade changed, his sound evolved.
Is that how you see your music going forward/ evolving?
Definitely, I think I can evolve to any song really, I've done it all. I was classically trained, musically in terms of vocals, and like a couple of instruments.
I learnt my instruments when I was 12 and then I just kept working on it. And at my mum’s choir, I played instruments there, I was the head of the choir. At the ages of 13, 14, I was in charge of the church choir. It was a new experience, especially for a 13, 14 year old. But i felt like that threw me in the deep end, definitely pushed me as well, I got comfortable after a while to play and that, so doing that took me out of my comfort zone, and i think i thrive the most outside of my comfort zone, ‘cause I always wanna perfect, I’m a perfectionist. I always wanna do everything to the best I can. Every Sunday at the end of the service, I had people coming up to me, saying "well done, the music today was phenomenal!" From then I knew, when I started playing instruments so easily, I had a gift given to me somewhere.
Jay doesn’t think that one sound or one song can define him, evident as he reveals he made a full length pop EP during one of the many lockdowns throughout the pandemic. Whether he will release it, he’s unsure, but he knows he wants listeners to know he has a diverse repertoire under his sleeve.
I probably wouldn't release the whole project but as I said before, my first studio album that I release after a few mixtapes, there's one piano ballad on that hip hop album only because I wanted to diversify a bit, just to show my creative skills, because this whole pop EP that I wrote I composed all the instruments myself, everything from the piano, the guitar, the strings, everything.
One track on this next project, I’ve used the Human nature sample, Michael Jackson, as soon as I heard the beat, it just sounded like Human Nature, obviously it wasn’t exact, but the progression of the chords and the instruments just reminded me of Human Nature, so I just took a bit of the chorus, and I put it in the same key, pitched it up, and I feel like something like that, ‘cause of my verse, it’s still me, hip hoppy, rappy, I’m gonna connect with my audience already, and I’m gonna connect with maybe old school listeners that love Human Nature, that love Michael Jackson. It’s a blend of both, same with other tracks that I’ve got.
‘I’ve been working on my next project already, I wanna drop it this year, I wanna drop it around summer, so hopefully I can do that.’
And as Jay says himself, ‘Nowadays all it takes is one song, so who knows.’