Jaymay's rise to indie success has happened relatively quickly. Just rewind back a few years to 2003 and Jaymay had just graduated college and moved back to NY to pursue a career in publishing. Unable to find what she was lookin for in the publishing world she attempted a performance at an open mic night in NYC. Lucky for us all that while onstage that night Jaymay realised that music was her true calling, and the rest is history. A few short years later and her ep Sea Green See Blue was put on I-tunes in the "Indie Spotlight", and her career was on the move. More recently she got picked up by EMI, which released her already successful new full length Autumn Fallin . Here's Jaymay's description of the album.... “Autumn Fallin’ is the death of a relationship and the death of a friend,” says Jaymay. “It’s about Autumn turning into Winter. The songs come from seven months of life and relationships in New York. But there’s hope there in the songs too. If you think of the first song, ‘Gray or Blue,’ and the last song, ‘You Are The Only One I Love,’ as bookends you can read a story.”
Jaymay was kind enough to give us a few moments out of her schedule for an interview, here it is:
You've had a love of books from a young age & the new album Autumn Fallin' seems to have a story arch to it, a beginning a middle and an end. Does that come natural in your writing or this album just turned out that way?
Jaymay- It definitely comes natural (the whole story arch thing). sea green, see blue i wrote over the course of three days. it ended up bein about fifty short rhymin paragraphs and i had to keep cuttin n cuttin away until i had six neat verses to summarize the ebb n flow of a seven month relationship. or sometimes when i write i just start typin a conversation i wish i was havin. autumn fallin' is a conversation with nobody on the other side of the table. and you'd rather run is a collection of sentences i was emailin myself over a period of two years. the last verse of that song (before the final chorus) was actually the inspiration for the song-- so in a sense, the beginning is the end.
Is the writing process cathartic for you?
Jaymay- I write to cope (im winnin u with words bc i have no other way). yes, it's quite cathartic.
I read that you grew up on Long Island? How'd you get past all the bad cover bands and 80's metal scene to make the music you do?
Jaymay- i started performin for the first time in NYC (after i graduated college) at open mics so i never really got acquainted with the whole long island music scene. tho one time i went n sang at stephen talkhouse in amagansett (to be like billy joel). but i didnt play a show or anythin--just the open mic.
How did the deal with EMI/Bluenote records come about? Was it a long courting process?
Jaymay- I signed with heavenly/emi in the UK a year after they saw me perform at SXSW in march '05. when i learned my record would be released in the states i of course was leanin towards blue note as the EMI affiliate (im down with anythin that includes chet baker). the blue note crew came to see me sing october '07 at rockwood music hall n thankfully they liked me.
Having had a lot of success getting your music out there basically by word of mouth, whas there ever any hesitation on singning up with a major?
Jaymay- Sure, im pretty reluctant bout anythin label-related. i think that's a natural way to be these days-- especially with the direction the music industry is headed n all. after heavenly expressed interest, i still did not sign for a year.
When you first started performing on those open mic nights, did you ever think you'd be where you are now? What was that first performance like?
Jaymay- Well i never thought id be on chet baker's label. i owe everythin to that first performance (where i only managed to perform 1/2 a song called banana without appeal) bc it's when i finally acknowledged music is what im meant to be doing.
What would you be doing if it wasn't making music?
Jaymay- Who knows? probably longin to play music. i really wanna write a book one day. sometimes im convinced my songs are just half-hearted attempts at books.
I heard the New Yorker magazine rejected your poems you submitted? Any words for them?
Jaymay- I guess not. not yet anyways . . . (they'll change their mind).
You've said in the past that your obsessed with Bob Dylan, have you ever had the opportunity to meet him? Would you want to?
Jaymay- Of course i wanna meet Bobby. havent had the opportunity yet, but every day i'm gettin closer.
Thanks very much to Jaymay for givin us some time.
You can get her album Autumn Fallin on Blue Note in the US and Heavenly records in the UK. To give a listen you can go to her myspace, or you can catch her on tour in the UK thru May and back in the states thru June.
Photo credit: Rebecca Lewis