R&B artist Jay Saint, best known for his writing work with Bad Boy Records and for being on Danity Kane’s number one album Welcome to the Dollhouse, has returned from an 8-year long solo hiatus to deliver his debut full-length studio album, ExCommitted.
Drawing inspirations from his heritage and gay identity, Jay Saint navigates the deepest parts of his psyche in ExCommitted. The album explores difficult themes of love and war, delivered through addictive island-tinged melodies, crafting for anthem-worthy, radio-ready tracks. The lead single, “Push Away,” tells his story about coming to the realization that his love needs to be shared with a more deserving partner. Throughout each track, Jay Saint shares more and more about his most vulnerable emotions and experiences. ExCommitted is a sonic tribute to living his most authentic life and growing into the artist he always knew he could become.
Check out Grit Daily’s exclusive interview with Jay Saint below where we discuss identity, aspirations, and plans for 2020:
GD: You often call yourself, “the openly gay artists R&B needs,” how does your identity affect your music?
JS: “As far as the R&B scene is concerned, true R&B is targeted from a male perspective towards women. It’s either talking about sex or alluring to wanting women. As far as R&B artists in the gay community, I don’t think there are any artists that have their subject and brand, as far as music is concerned, that is intended for everyone. [The subjects in ExCommited] are not necessarily on the nose, or for a specific sex. This LP is something that needed to be out, especially coming from an openly gay artist, and it’s something that everyone can relate to. It includes situations everyone has been through in a relationship, situations that they are maybe going through now. I wanted to talk about something that is completely subliminal and I feel that needs to come from a gay artist so people see we are not just pigeon-holed into one thing.”
GD: In the BTS you mentioned being inspired by your heritage, so identity seems to be a huge inspiration when it comes to writing music. Are there any outside influences that have shaped the way you create music?
JS: “As far as writing, I was extremely inspired by Smokey Robinson. The way he structured music, that’s how I learned how to structure music. Also, Bob Marley is another person who inspired me as a songwriter and artist. His music is something that sticks with you, something you’ll always remember, every one of his songs has a climax. And as a writer, my mission is to make sure there is a part listeners will remember. With my heritage, it was something I never wanted to hide. When I speak, my Haitian accent slips, so I wanted to make sure in music it was present.”
Writing has always been a main part of your career, from writing your own music to being a writer for Bad Boy Records. ExCommitted specifically comes 8 years after one of your early singles, “Last Stop,” how have you grown as a writer during this time?
JS: “Back then, I was very young and very hungry. Honestly, I felt like with my writing, I had to get back into the zone as when I first got my publishing deal with Bad Boy Records. I was really hungry and inspired by everything. I would see a sign on a street or a word and then just write something that felt right to me. As far as growth, I feel like I’ve grown tremendously. There was one thing that an A&R (Artists & Repertoire) told me was going to hold me back from reaching my full potential as a writer and that was having my own experiences to write about. I was young, and I hadn’t really experienced love or heartbreak at this point, but once I experienced it for myself, everything I was writing felt natural. Everything I was speaking about felt like it was coming from a place of experience. I feel like my writing has become more authentic.”
GD: This album seems like such a large piece of you put into a sole body of work. How does it feel to finally have something like this released?
JS: “It is very overwhelming. When I was writing back then, I wasn’t openly gay. I wasn’t really comfortable with being gay. I felt like society felt it was wrong. That’s why the hiatus from then and now was so long. It didn’t really click with me if I would be accepted if I tied the two together. Now that people are more accepting, I felt like it was the right time to really be my most authentic self. I get emotional thinking about it because it’s like my autobiography when it comes to being in a relationship. I’ve learned when writing this project so much about myself. It’s helped me grow as a person AND an artist. This isn’t just to release music, it’s literally me coming into myself and becoming Jay Saint, the artist I knew I could be.
GD: Was there a specific moment where it clicked that you could live your most authentic life, while still pursuing your music aspirations?
JS: “When I came out to my parents. It was during the hiatus from 2012 up until now. In Carribean culture, being gay isn’t the most accepted thing. People really look down on it. My parents knew from day 1 how much I loved music. When I told them that was the reason why I felt like I didn’t have a place in the music industry. I mean, yes I could be a writer, but I felt like I was more than that, that I had a message I wanted to spread. They told me I had all of their support and I could do anything I wanted to do. That was the moment where it clicked. The reason I’m dropping the album on the 6th is because of the moment I had with my mom and day, so I dedicated the album release date to my mom’s birthday.”
What’s 2020 looking for you? Spending more time in the studio, any possible live shows?
JS: “Expect to see a lot of visuals. I wanted to do a visual for every single record on the album because I feel like every track has a voice that needs to be showcased visually. I expect to be performing a lot, and just expect me to be everywhere! I see my hands in everything this year!”
Fans can stream or download Jay Saint’s ExCommitted out now on Apple Music and Spotify.
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