Tell me a ‘wow’ that is happening ‘now’: Jay Sean, R&B singer, on staying grateful during the lockdown
It was an exciting day for fans of Jay Sean, when the famous R&B singer-songwriter came live on the Instagram page of Vh1 India for ‘Vh1 Quarantunes’ recently and performed some of his finest hits through the years.
He also answered many questions from fans and asked them to stay safe and well during these tough times amid COVID-19.
Best known for his Billboard Hot 100 #1 single “Down”, Jay Sean, who is a well-known singer and songwriter, emerged in the American pop music scene a decade ago.
Jay Sean, born Kamaljit Singh Jhooti in Harlesden, London, is a British R&B singer. Jay Sean is a stage name that he adopted because his family affectionately called him 'Shaan' and Jay was his nickname.
Sean grew up in Hounslow in the western part London and started his hobby of rapping at the age of 11, in a hip-hop duo called "Compulsive Disorder". He went to a private boys’ school and won himself a place at the Barts & the London, Queen Mary's school of Medicine & Dentistry in London to train as a doctor.
After two years Jay Sean secured a one million pounds record deal with Virgin Records and dropped out to pursue a musical career.
After Sean's track "One Minute" fell into the hands of producer Rishi Rich, the Rishi Rich Project was formed, consisting of Rich, Sean and Juggy D, in 2003. Their first taste of UK chart success was the Asian underground song, "Dance with You (Nachna Tere Naal)", which became a Top 20 hit.
By 2008, Sean was delivering international hits like “Ride It” and “Maybe” before inking a serendipitous deal with Cash Money Records that brought him full-fledged into American mainstream music.
He took his interests overseas after his 2013 final Cash Money release Neon, securing an international deal. Two years later, he returned with "Make My Love Go," his debut single for Sony.
A string of singles followed over the next two years but the top ones were "Lonely," which was followed in early 2020 by "Surma Surma”. Both songs were streamed over a million times in a relatively short time frame.
In an interaction with YSWeekender, Jay Sean talks about his recent work, his mentors, and how to cope with the lockdown amid COVID-19...
Can you tell us your work lately and about your genre of music? How has your music evolved over the years?
Well, it’s been 17 years, and during that time the musical climate has shifted a lot. In the beginning I guess I was discovered for my Indian R & B fusion music. This was something, brand new back then but I also was very aware that I did not want to be put inside one box. Since then, my music has somewhat always been within the pop R&B dance genre, and I like to experiment with eastern sounds regularly.
How would you describe your rapport with fellow musician, Rishi Rich and what was his mentorship like?
Rishi was my first introduction to the music industry and he taught me the ropes. I also witnessed and experienced humility and grace from him. He was already an established name in the scene and was always very humble and hard-working. I hope I have also carried on these traits throughout the years.
How have you been spending time during the lockdown and can you tell us what you will be playing for this event?
I have been trying to be creative and think outside the box, since writing and recording and performing music is usually how I spend my days. I have launched a new podcast called “Basement Banter” which I am very excited about. Some of the content has actually come through this quarantine.
You are known to be a positive person and your fans have always spoken about the fact that you like to keep negativity at bay? What advice would you give people who are depressed due to the pandemic?
I think if you look hard enough every day you can find something to focus on that you can be grateful for. That can shift our state of mind.
I have this game that I play with my daughter Ayva, randomly at any point during the day, I will ask her “Tell me a WOW that is happening right NOW!”
And then she names something that she is enjoying, or that makes her happy in that moment. Practising gratitude is just that - practice. It has to become second nature.
What is it like to be a role model for the young South Asian generation? What advice do you have for youngsters aspiring to get into the music scene?
Nowadays, there are so many opportunities and platforms to showcase your music. There has never been a better time to put your sound out to the world. We all know there are tons of streaming services available. Some people don’t even need record labels! Go out there work hard and enjoy the process of creating music and not just the end result to see what happens to it.
Tell us about your work in Bollywood earlier and what are your plans in the future?
I have dabbled in Bollywood, with songs such as “Dance with You” and “One Night” being featured in Bollywood movies. I would be interested in doing music for upcoming movies, once we are allowed to make them!