Here at THP, we love to spotlight and interview rising artists, and Jay Alan is one of our favorites! His most recent release is the absolute gem ‘Lovesick,’ which is a really funny take on the idea of literally “catching feelings.” We really appreciate Jay’s ability to bring humor to darker situations, especially things like the pandemic. It was an honor for THP to get the chance to chat with Jay Alan in this exclusive interview!
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2022 is set to be an incredible year for Jay Alan – we’re waiting with bated breath for his debut EP, Play Pretend, to come out later this year. ‘Lovesick’ is the latest single from Play Pretend, following ‘Got Feelings,’ and features the super talented Alexa Wilhelm, who you’ve probably seen all over your TikTok For You Page.
We were so excited to have the opportunity to ask Jay Alan about ‘Lovesick,’ his plans, and – maybe most importantly – his birth chart in this exclusive interview!
We might be a couple of months in already but what are your goals for 2022? What’s one thing you hope you or your music will achieve by the end of this year?
My biggest artist goals this year are to release my debut EP, headline shows all across Boston and New York, and start to make and release music for my next project. As a human, my biggest goal in 2022 is to find peace as an individual. I often find myself heavily relying on others, or sometimes becoming co-dependent, and I really want to break that habit. I just turned 21 last year, and I feel like it’s time for me to find more strength in who I am.
We could not be more excited for your debut EP to come out! What’s one thing, in particular, we should anticipate from Play Pretend?
Play Pretend has been in the works for about two years now, and it’s unreal to think it’ll be out so soon! To me, this EP feels like a storybook about young love, told through a gay lens. We’re all familiar with stories about catching feelings for a friend, or getting nervous to dance with your partner in public, but there isn’t enough representation of those stories being told from an LGBTQ+ perspective. I’ve been out as gay for almost a decade now, and writing love songs to he/him pronouns is just what’s most natural to me. I hope one day people can listen to my music and not notice that I’m singing to a man, but until being LGBTQ+ is completely normalized and accepted, I’ll be shouting my gay love songs off the roof for the world to hear.
So you released ‘Lovesick’ on Valentine’s Day – what’s your idea of the perfect Valentine’s?
My perfect Valentine’s Day would probably be pretty low-key. During the pandemic, I lived with my boyfriend at the time, and discovered I was actually quite the homebody. I’d be content with watching a movie marathon and cuddling all day, but we could also do something quirky like going thrift shopping, or horseback riding, or even just driving around the city; I don’t really care what, as long as we’re together. I’d love to end the day with a fancy candlelit dinner date by the ocean. I always think it’s more fun to get all dressed up and make an event of going out!
‘Lovesick’ is a collaboration with the very talented Alexa Wilhelm. How do you go about choosing who you want to collab with? Is the writing process any different when there’s another artist on the track?
All of my collaborations actually happened pretty organically. For ‘Lovesick’ in particular, Alexa was only supposed to be a co-writer at first. However, when we finished the song, it was obvious I wanted her to sing on the track as well. I usually just lead with my heart in my music, and it’s easy to tell when something feels right. When writing with another artist, I think it’s important for each individual’s creativity to be represented. Often, someone will take the lead, say, if there’s a feature, but both forms of artistry should show through, regardless.
Whilst ‘Lovesick’ is a very emotional track, we also love the humor in the lyrics! Which artists or writers inspire you lyrically? What are your tips for getting over heartbreak, or feeling ‘Lovesick?’
I really wanted that cheeky humor to shine through in ‘Lovesick.’ It’s definitely a bit of satire amid the pandemic, and my goal was to create something positive from such a dark time. Lyrically, I take a lot of inspiration from artists like Lorde, Quinn XCII, Julia Michaels, and Lennon Stella. I was originally trained by a Nashville-style songwriter, so my music tends to be written like stories. I truly think the best way to get over heartbreak is to surround yourself with the people you love most. Whenever I’ve struggled to put my pieces back together, my best friends and family were my glue. During a breakup, it’s important to remind yourself of all the people you can still lean on.
You’ve released music for Christmas and Valentine’s, but out of all of them, which holiday is your favorite?
I think I would say Christmas is my favorite. Obviously, it was all about Santa and presents when we were kids, but now that I’m in college, I’ve realized how important it is to me. I feel like I’m always “on” with my career and education, and it’s important to have the time to be “off.” My fuel tank runs so close to empty by the end of the year, and escaping to the city to stay with my family in Indiana is the best medicine.
We saw on Twitter that you’re into zodiacs – we are too! What signs do you think you get along with the best?
That is too funny! As a Libra sun and moon, and triple air sign, I find myself most compatible with other Libras and air signs. My first boyfriend was actually born 9 days after me, so his entire chart was the exact same as mine (besides our moon and rising)! I don’t think it’d be a surprise to know I’m drawn to fire signs, but most people don’t expect me to be so close with water signs. My Mercury (which represents communication) is in Scorpio, and as a songwriter, that means my communication is emotional and angsty! I tend to teeter between being too sensitive and not feeling anything at all, and signs like Cancer and Pisces help remind me to nurture the more delicate parts of my emotions.
You and frequent collaborator Travis Heidelman had to change tactics when it came to creating art during the pandemic. Do you think any of the new ways of recording will stick around in your processes or are you excited to go back to the old studio life?
Because I was living in LA during the pandemic while Travis was in Boston, we had to come up with a way to continue making music virtually. Travis found a program called AudioMovers that allowed him to remotely take control of my laptop and track my vocals in a DAW. This setup was much easier than recording on my own and sending him stems, because he was able to give me feedback and suggestions in real-time. Now that he graduated and moved home to LA, and I moved back to Boston for school, we actually still use this process when we record. The pandemic took a toll on a massive part of our lives, but I’m proud of the way us musicians adapted to collaborate even during lockdown.
We’ve seen you’ve done a couple of live shows since things have started opening back up. Is playing more live shows, or even touring, something you want to do in the future?
Absolutely! My biggest dream is to headline stadiums all over the world, and I’m so excited that live venues are starting to open back up. I actually have a show at The Burren coming up in Somerville on April 6th! My friend Annie Elise is also releasing her debut EP the same day as mine, and we’re playing a co-headliner to celebrate! I can’t wait to feel the audience’s energy when I play my new music live!
You’ve spoken before about how important it is for you to create a positive space for LGBTQ+ fans. Does that come easy to you or are you constantly working at it?
It definitely comes easy to me, but it’s still something I need to constantly work at. I’ve been out for a long time now, and living my truth as a gay man comes naturally to me. I was beyond blessed to have a family that accepted me from the beginning, but there’s a lot of people that haven’t had that same support. Sometimes I feel unqualified as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community because I can’t relate to every negative experience, but I still feel it’s my responsibility. Because I’ve always had a space to be exactly who I am, I want to be able to create that space for people who don’t.
A lot of THP readers are a similar age to you and are similarly trying to balance college life and progressing in their careers and their art. Do you have any tips for people wanting to get a better balance with these things?
I’ve recently struggled a lot with balance and time management, and what has helped me the most is making to-do lists. I often find myself trying to juggle everything in my head, but it feels much more manageable when I can see it all on paper. As small as it seems, getting to check something off my list is really rewarding for my productivity. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have enough hours in my day, but seeing everything I checked off feels like a little victory.
We really appreciate Jay Alan taking the time to chat with us for this exclusive interview, and we know 2022 is going to be filled with little victories for him. For now, we’re sitting tight and waiting for the drop of Play Pretend!
What do you think of our interview with Jay Alan, and more importantly, what d’ya think of ‘Lovesick?’ Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter @TheHoneyPop or visit us on Facebook or Instagram.
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