I am a little late putting this online...
PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Tempro
but I have been speaking with Rasha Jay about her new single, Red Coat. I ask what it concerns and what we can expect from her upcoming E.P., High Dive – Rasha Jay talks about breaking down boundaries and when music came into her life.
The songwriter discusses a few albums important to her; whether she has plans for this year and what it is like stepping into Blues – a genre dominated by men – and whether there are challenges – she picks a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Rasha Jay. How are you? How has your week been?
I am well, thank you. My week has been great!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am Rasha Jay; a singer and songwriter from the U.S. in the Alternative/Blues genre, mostly. Blues, mainly, because of how my voice comes across, I suppose, and Alternative in how I write my songs.
Can you tell me when you got into music? Were there particular records or artists that inspired that passion?
My family tells me that I’ve been singing since I was two or three; a relative would teach me Gospel songs on the front porch. I don’t recall it but seems about right! I was deeply drawn to music early on, hearing melodies and singing all of the time. Prince’s Sign o’ the Times album sticks out for me - I think it was mainly a black cover. I recall opening the album and reading the lyrics and being fascinated with the grooves.
PHOTO CREDIT: @sayjor
You play in a Blues-Rock/Alt-Blues mould. It is traditionally populated by white men. Were there any hesitations stepping into that world?
No hesitations at all! It’s about storytelling and standing firm, singing your song. I have a song to sing and I rest on great shoulders; those unbridled voices I admire so much. I want to push it forward. I want to expand the story.
Do you think it is important that artists break down walls and barriers in order to bring about progression and evolution?
Yes, absolutely! I love the classic songs like everyone else but they’ve been done before. (And again and again as they should be). But, I’m more curious about what’s around the corner; what’s going to be a part of that lexicon that we can look back on in years to come? And, personally, am I pushing myself to seek new ways to convey my thoughts in song?
Red Coat is your new single. Is there a story behind it at all?
Red Coat is a song that I wrote, in part, years ago but it didn’t make my first E.P. It was something that always lingered around my mind, though. I sang the guitar riff all the time - it wouldn’t leave me. The song is about the murky, thick part of knowing yourself and how love can be abrasive. It’s also about how other’s behaviour can keep you from giving all that you have. To keep a part of yourself wrapped up is, I feel, perfectly fine and it happens within every relationship.
Can you reveal any details about your upcoming E.P., High Dive, and the sort of themes explored?
High Dive is a short journey about exploring different emotions, those that are conflicting and those that are tough. And, purposely, the songs have questions posed within the songs. They are questions that people ask of you and you ask of yourself.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Yes. I can’t wait to release this single and its video! I’m also going to give listeners an inside view about how Red Coat was made in the studio with my co-producer, Katmaz. I can’t wait to go home to Maryland and sing these new songs live for my hometown and I’m planning my E.P. release show.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Tempro
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
My favorite time so far...that is tough!
But, I will say that playing live is my favorite thing to do and I am fortunate to know some talented musicians. One sticks out: my first show at The Twisted Elm in New Jersey a few years back. I’m playing with a new guitarist, Mike, and when my set was done they yelled “One more!” I was so shocked and humbled. Mike and I didn’t plan anything.
I looked to him and said “Plush by Stone Temple Pilots?” He nodded ‘yes’ and hit the chords. I had no idea if he knew it. I ended up doing two more encores that night. He knows every song. I keep him close to this day!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Michael Jackson - Thriller
For every reason imaginable; all the reasons. I used to close my eyes and wish that P.Y.T. was written for me. And, I was like, six-years-old!
Anita Baker - Rapture
My aunt and grandmother had her poster on their walls! She was my earliest female representation of a Rock star. I hadn’t heard a voice like that and I watched everyone who heard her songs have so many different responses. Some would get quiet and sway, others would jump up and sing out. That is real power.
Janet Jackson - Control
I danced and danced to this album as a kid. I knew every move she did on the videos; I was Janet in my mind. I thought I wanted to be both dancer and singer. I still dance but it’s reduced itself to jumping around and hip-swaying.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
The Arctic Monkeys! My rider would just be a huge fan and some water. The fan and water to help me not faint at the thought of opening for them.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Tempro
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I would say that whatever you are creating, know that everyone won’t be on board and you’ll have to ride alone. And that’s alright. Keep going.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I’m working on that, I promise! I played in the U.K. previously. Looking to head back there as well.
IN THIS PHOTO: Katmaz
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
My producer, Katmaz. His music is brooding and bubbling all at once. He gets me and my dark style and Red Coat couldn’t have sounded the way it does without our sync.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I unwind by listening to more music - I don’t want to get away from it. Late at night, I’m always looking for shows such as Rick and Morty and The Great British Bake Off.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
In true encore fashion, Plush by Stone Temple Pilots
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