RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MIDDLESBOROUGHS JAY MOUSSA-MANN
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to become a soloist?
I find it easier to communicate through song, but it’s also a way for me to deal with life. I have a story to tell.
Introduce us you and your musical history?
I was born in a little place in the North East of the UK called Stockton-on-Tees and I spent some of my childhood in Turkey. My dad is Turkish-Cypriot my mum is from Newcastle. I’ve lived all over the place. I was sent away to school age 14. I’ve been singing and songwriting since I was little, tried to give it a serious go when I was in my late teens, couldn’t do it, then decided to try again in 2018 when a song of mine was played on BBC Introducing.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Why do you make music : )
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
I think everyone is out to get me? Is that one? : )
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
A cello. I’m so ashamed. It’s beautiful and it’s just sitting in our attic.
What useless party trick do you have?
I can make a noise and face like a dolphin squeaking. Some say it is a seagull squawking.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
The other day I was playing The Mini Mela festival in Middlesbrough Town. It was the first time I’d played in front of a lot of people since 2020. The sun was shining, we were outside. It was a lovely vibe. I really enjoyed myself.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I supported Jodie Nicholson at the Waiting Room but I had laryngitis. I shouldn’t have done it, I nearly permanently damaged my voice and I felt so so ill.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I listen to and absolutely love 2Pac’s songs
If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it?
You come. We sing and dance-happy together?
What makes you stand out as an artist?
Me. I’m a little live-wire of emotions. I’m a mixture of cultures and world views. I’m always looking to belong. I think a lot of people can relate to me on that level.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Oh I did that every day during 2020 and 2021. I’ve never been so angry for so long. I’m done with that now. It doesn’t help it just gave me aches and pains. I’m just focused on writing songs and enjoying performing them.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
Green Toyota, even though its a little more towards the folk-pop stuff I used to do, it instantly catches peoples attention from line one and that always makes it easier to perform. It’s not released yet but there’s an acoustic version on my YouTube channel
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a breakup song about a relationship that didn’t really exist. And a posh car. And its got guitars and synths with an upbeat feel-good summer hook.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
I was listening to All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) I’d not heard that song before and I thought “I’ve never written a song about any of my breakups or past relationships. I wonder what it feels like.” I had been to a songwriting retreat with Andrea Stolpe and she talks a lot about sensory writing and telling a story so I tried to retell this story, drawing on something that happened to me and the way I felt about it. I tried to capture the essence of that summer, in Turkey, which wasn’t a holiday at the time it was my home. I wanted to make it something you could drive around in the sun with the windows down to.
What was the recording process like?
I did a version at home on Logic. The original mix had my badly recorded electric guitars that were big and loud. When I sent it to Patrick Jordan who has been working with me on this album, he re-recorded some of the melody lines I’d created on guitar, took out the big guitars that weren’t working and added this really lovely guitar (I think it was guitar) melody line on the “But you left me the car” section. Then I added some acoustic chord strumming back in just because I like to feel that sense there’s a piece of the original guitar in there somewhere
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
How the songwriting structure and the musical arrangement are really really important in making the song work. And finding the right drums. And when you’re working from a demo, like just recorded on your phone you and guitar, using the guitar rhythm and keeping the original tempo can make it work and if you lose that it can really hurt it.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
I don’t think I would change anything on the singles so far. It’s the first time I’ve ever had songs I’m really content with and love the production. They sound like me. That’s all thanks to Patrick Jordan.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
Finish the album, do more live shows, and keep pushing the songs from this album out. I want to live with these songs for a while now. I love them.
I’ve also recently started hosting a podcast about Women in Music Production through NARC Magazine, a local culture magazine. It’s called She’s Doing It, So I’m Doing It and I interview women who are producing their own music or co-producing. The aim is to encourage more women in music production and I’m learning a lot just talking to other women who produce music.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Have you listened to Nobody Knows by Cortney Dixon, Perfect Storm by Amelia Coburn and Soul Tied by Lauren Minear? If not, you really should.