Photo Credit to Jesus Ayala Jr. Article by Megan Vineberg
I got the chance to catch up with up and coming artist Jesus Ayala Jr. about his upcoming album, his favorite records, and the start of it all. I immediately took notice of his style, and I really liked the way this song was arranged. It reminded me a bit of the O.C. mixes I would listen to when I was younger. Oh boy, does that take me back! It’s very 2000s in the mixing, and even a bit in the vocals. I don’t have a specific artist I’m thinking of as I listen in. I just get a very chill vibe from this song. It’s something I might, when I was younger, play in my room if I was hanging out with someone I liked. You know, like those old-school mixtapes? I really enjoyed listening in on this one.
MV: Firstly, hello and thank you for joining us here at Borderless Melodies. How are you doing, with all that has been going on?
JAJ: Hello! Thank you for having me. I love what you all do. I’m good! Lucky enough to be busy with work and the music during these times. How are you?
MV: [I’ve been better but not quite a hundred percent just yet. I still tear up every time I listen to the Saving Daisy records. Such a special place for me to go to when I want to remember, and I’m glad pieces were put out here and there for all of us to enjoy. Both are great but “Savior,” is one that I think will touch people differently.]
MV: Tell our audience a little bit about how you got started as a solo artist. Do you have any family who is musical as well, or are you the only one?
JAJ: My start as a solo artist probably isn’t that interesting. It was born out of necessity because all the bands I was in before broke up. People started getting internships, or getting married. So, I’m doing the solo thing now to avoid having to constantly rebuild a brand.
As for my family, it’s funny you bring that up because I found out my dad used to play guitar when he was a kid in seminary, months after I got my first guitar. I was impressed with the chords he was able to recall from his youth but also just surprised he never mentioned it.
MV: [I’ve got quite a few people in my family who are artistic but only my brother and I have ever pursued it further than high school. My uncle on my dad’s side played guitar a while back and us grandkids are all singers. On my mom’s side, they were dancers but again, aside from me and my brother, no one in the family has really pursued it in the way I have.]
MV: What are you listening to a lot of right now?
JAJ: Not much, I’m still taking in The Strokes’ latest album. I’m also starting to get into Tame Impala and waiting on The Killers’ new album. My manager and I went to see beabadoobee perform before the pandemic, and I am listening to the singles she’s putting out for her new album. Do you have any recommendations?
MV: [beabadoobee is actually on that random coffee shop song “deathbed” I was gonna mention! She also has this song “Sorry,” I really like. The alternate edit is cool. As far as recommendations for new stuff, I’m listening to a lot of Trevor Daniel just in my personal life, and Heather Sommer for the playlists we’ve built.]
JAJ: It’s crazy that her YouTube video for it blew up, and now it’s sampled on a Dunkin Donuts commercial here. I’m excited to see where she will go.
MV: Would you be able to name one artist that really got you started into making your own music?
JAJ: That’s a good question. I don’t know if I remember which artist really inspired me to pick up an instrument. But, I went through a Ramones phase in college. I think they really showed me that you only need a couple chords and catchy melodies to write songs.
MV: [You know mine was Imogen Heap, with “Hide and Seek.” I had been playing around with the idea of covering that song for a while but it’s SO hard to sing (even for Imogen) because of the Vocoder. I loved that it didn’t sound like anything on the radio or anything else you would hear, and I think that in a way kind of fits my entire personality. Anyway, so I started looking for ways to record myself singing through my phone—apps and stuff, ways to make effects here and there. I wasn’t planning on making it my whole sound. I don’t know, people ask me how I come up with my stuff, and to be fair, most of it was just me messing around with what I had on hand and happening upon these records. I came across that one vocoder plug-in and the first three records were born from my iPhone.]
JAJ: I love that song by the way. I heard it on the teen soap opera, The OC, years ago. And, it apparently charted after airing on that show. But, that song is just so beautiful and heartfelt. It’s on my sad playlist. To your point, it’s so different, but it seems to have universal appeal and has had a great life. A true jem.
MV: What would be something you would typically listen to, say, on a road trip with friends? (a song you don’t ever skip, or an album you don’t get tired of listening to).
JAJ: The longest drive I did was from New York City to Chicago. There were lots of throwback pop songs both in English and Spanish. It’s all pretty embarrassing stuff, but I listened to a ton of pop growing up.
MV: [If I may: Toto - Africa. Forever a jam.]
JAJ: Jajaja, the original banger!
MV: I saw in one of your posts that you were releasing an album (it said in the caption). What’s that been like, versus the singles you’ve put out?
JAJ: Yes! I should plug my EP which comes out next week on August 28th. I would say releasing a collection of songs, versus a single, definitely complicates things for me. I feel like all the songs have to have some common thread in order for them to exist as a true EP or album. Singles were less of a commitment and an opportunity to explore. I also didn’t have to worry about the order of tracks or picking favorites. But, I don’t know. You’re a musician too, what do you think?
MV: [Singles are definitely a little easier in terms of time but both take a lot of time and energy to perfect, and then every time there’s topping the last record you put out—at least the way I see things.]
MV: For those die-hard playlisters who may not be as familiar with your music, what would you say yours compares to?
JAJ: If you like The Strokes, The Vaccines, Kings of Leon, The Killers, or the Arctic Monkeys, give Jesus Ayala Jr. a chance. Put me in your playlist rotation!
MV: [We’ve still got a couple in the works as far as the playlists are concerned but I’ll definitely pitch it, and see where we can place you!]
MV: Do you plan on booking any collaborations at the moment, or are you wanting to release more solo projects first?
JAJ: I get messages on Soundcloud and Instagram here and there from people wanting to try to and collaborate remotely. I’m definitely open to that idea. I’m talking to someone who works with 808 samples, and I’ve always wanted to make a rock song with 808 drums. But I don’t know, I also feel like I have more to say and prove as a solo artist before I start collaborating.
That is all we have for you today! Jesus, thank you for letting us pick your brain a bit on all things... life! It was a pleasure. We hope to see you again in the near future!
JA: Thank you!
Be sure to tune into Jesus’ self-titled debut E.P. when it drops, Friday, August 28!
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