Music Interview: Jay Tennant

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Jay Tennant

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We were lucky enough to catch up with the superb Birmingham-based artist Jay Tennant following the release of his single ‘Star Chasing’. Read the full interview now!

What is your earliest music memory?

Hearing some Beatles songs I think, either through TV programmes or through friends – it was the 80’s but their music was still everywhere, and the parents of one or two friends were Beatles fans.

Also, my Dad used to play classical music in the house and in the car all the time, so I heard a lot of that too.

After ten years of fronting bands, you decided to become a solo artist, what sparked the change?

I had some great times with the bands I was in and was lucky enough to sing with some amazing musicians. A couple of bands could have gone on to bigger things, potentially. But you’d build momentum and then life would keep getting in the way, or you’d lose a band member and have to start again.

After ten years, I decided to start writing a few acoustic tunes and, over time, that kind of opened everything up. I realized I had all these songs in me and with that came a kind of freedom to tap into it all and see where it took me musically.

Who influenced your latest release, ‘Star Chasing’?

Quite a mix of things went into ‘Star Chasing’. Musically, it’s got a darkness to it like The Cure maybe, but it’s cinematic too. It’s a very visual track to me, and it’s deliberately relentless – I wanted it to actually ‘sound’ like you’re in a car speeding across the city at night.

You can see that in the accompanying video, which is on YouTube. Lyrically, there are little nods to Bowie and classic Hollywood. It’s also quite a personal song, ultimately.

You worked with Deadline Studios in Leicester on ‘Star Chasing’. The single was produced, mixed and mastered by the studio owner and producer, Adam Ellis. Why did you choose to work with Deadline Studios?

I have a really good rapport with Adam there. He’s incredibly gifted and has an amazing ear for tuning into my vision for a song and making it a reality. His attention to detail is so good, and he also works incredibly fast, so we got ‘Star Chasing’ done in just 4 hours!

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

I’d have to say Johnny Marr, who is an absolute guitar legend and so talented. Also, New Order who are just amazing.

What’s your dream venue to play?

I prefer intimate venues where the sound is better so I would probably say legendary places like The 100 Club and The Roundhouse in London, Rock City in Nottingham, and Sheffield Leadmill.

Other than music, what are you passionate about?

I love films, especially 80’s & 90’s classics and also thriller, horror and war films. I also love reading – detective novels like Ian Rankin’s books and also European fiction. And I love the outdoors – travelling and seeing new places.

We see you are a big Bowie fan, what do you think that it was about him that touched so many people?

He did it all, didn’t he? I think he was a complete one-off, the way he evolved and reinvented himself so many times while releasing so many classic and innovative albums. And finding time to be an actor and also produce other classic albums too for Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

He was such a pioneer and always forward-looking, and he also broke down identity and gender barriers in a way that still resonates today. Ultimately, the music is just so good, and there’s so much depth to it too. He left an incredible legacy.

How do you feel about how the internet plays a role in the music business today?

So, I think it’s fantastic in some ways because in theory it’s opened it all out and you can get your music heard by more people and faster too. You can also find support from more music-lovers and radio stations through social media as well, which is great. But at the same time, you’re competing for people’s attention alongside millions of other artists and bands, so competition is fierce!

So, there are benefits, but you also have to put a lot of time and effort into the networking side of it, unless you have people doing that for you. Ultimately, it might be all about the music for you, but in reality, it isn’t anymore – you have to make sure you’re visible and keep people engaged.

We see that ‘Star Chasing’ is the first taste of a wider concept album which will be released in 2021, can you tell us any more about the album?

I don’t want to say too much at this stage because there’s more to come, but I will say that the whole album works as a cinematic concept piece set around a futuristic and shadowy city underworld called ‘Noxville’.

You’ll meet various characters through the songs, and the drama unfolds song-to-song. It’s a bit like Terminator 2-meets-The Crow by way of Ziggy Stardust.

FV Music Blog October 2020

Twitter: @jaytennant_

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