Atlanta-based genre-bending artist Jay Americana does not fit into a box, and he wouldn’t have it any other way, sharing, “Making music from my experiences and perspective is a revolutionary act.” The rising talent’s sound rests at the intersection of rap, hip-hop, alternative, and electronic dance music – all while maintaining a cohesive quality.
Join contributing writer Cynthia Gross as she connects with Jay Americana to discuss their early starts, finding a sense of belonging as a Black queer artist, and Americana’s favorite memory of the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, as well as an exclusive preview of their forthcoming EP, 555.
Music is a grounding force for Jay Americana. Their earliest memories center around embracing music during their teenage years as a creative outlet. “I was always into literature and creative writing, so naturally, I turned to poetry,” said Americana. “That poetry eventually turned into songwriting. For a while, I was reluctant to record my music, but I couldn’t resist.”
“I think my fondest memory was performing at a high school talent show with my friends. All the things we did back then were a little corny, but that was when I fell in love with using music to connect and entertain,” he added. And those illustrious and slightly awkward adolescent years were only the beginning for Jay Americana.
No stranger to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, Americana has “family roots nestled in the Richmond area.” “I spent many, many vacations visiting and taking in the culture. The food, music, and art still have a firm grasp on me.”
In 2018, Americana released their debut album, like you’ve seen a ghost, an eclectic, introspective 7-song collection that provides a space for the artist to process life and love. During this time, Americana immersed themself in the Atlanta scene, hosting shows, experimenting with sounds, and finding their voice. “That album really shifted things for me as an artist and individual,” he reflected.
Jay Americana’s latest single, “idle hands” from their 2021 EP, even stars burn out, explores themes of craving someone other than the person you’re with in a relationship. “idle hands” draws from indie pop-rock, and despite the subject matter, the track feels largely bright and upbeat. Driven by a minimalist electric guitar riff and drum loop, the song’s atmospherics take center stage to create a captivating soundscape with traces of melancholy.
“Cause you’re not giving up until you feel that touch / The things that you’ve been craving / And I won’t give it up until I feel your touch / Without the interruptions,” Americana sings.
A closer listen to the lyrics reveals a budding love triangle – or perhaps the semblance of one. The accompanying music video provides further clarity. The narrator takes a road trip with their friend and her boyfriend described as “Mr. Nice Guy,” and along the way, the narrator and the boyfriend fall in love, giving the boyfriend what he could never have with his girlfriend.
Although the girlfriend seemingly was only in the relationship for what she could get out of it, the turn of events stirs up anger and even violence. Watch the video to see how the story ends (a splitting axe is involved).
Jay Americana’s influences include pioneering artists Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X who helped Americana find a sense of belonging as a Black queer creative, one in which he stands boldly and unapologetically.
“Every popular music genre exists because of Black people. Our influence is everywhere. I am so proud of who I am and where I come from,” said Americana in recognition of Black History Month.
“I think the industry and status quo have a way of projecting their expectations onto artists,” he added. “Hip-hop is traditionally a genre for and by masculine, heterosexual men. I think that what I do, making music from my experiences and perspective, is a revolutionary act. I have no interest in toning myself down.”
Jay Americana’s forthcoming EP, 555, set for release on March 30, channels this intense, amped up energy right out of the gate. “sweat,” the project’s lead single, which drops March 16, is a verified banger. With a powerful, hard-hitting lyrical flow, electrifying synths, and a pumping beat, “sweat” is a quintessential club-ready track.
“‘sweat’ was one of the first tracks I had in mind for this project,” said Americana. “The song was inspired by some late-night adventures clubbing around Brooklyn. The music, the cramped dancefloors, the existential crises in the bathroom all coalesced in this track. I can’t wait for the audience to hear, feel, and dance to this.”
Album closers hold a special place in the experience provided by a collection, and Jay Americana gets it right with “last call.” The EP’s final track is smooth, melodic, and reflective, giving audiences a taste and leaving them longing for more.
“Blame it on the high / Blame it on me / All I want is love, but love don’t want me / Boys want fun, but they don’t want me / Know you’re right here, but I’m still lonely,” Americana sings in the memorable refrain.
555, the title of Americana’s EP is symbolic beyond what he realized initially. Americana notes that the project was named after the time he was born, but when he discovered the Angel Number connection, he was “blown away.”
The number 555 represents positive change and new beginnings, and the sense of optimism and renewed confidence in Americana’s forthcoming EP is nothing short of serendipitous. “This EP was born out of some of the best and worst of circumstances: partying all night, heartbreak, friends passing away, etcetera,” said Americana. “Even outside of my personal experiences, I want to remind listeners, ‘Hey, we’ve gone through this. We made it. Keep going.’”
Most importantly, Jay Americana says that he wants audiences to view 555 as a “celebration of life and liberation.” “I want listeners to walk away empowered to be open, honest, and carefree. Life is short, so we might as well dance.”
Jay Americana is a distinct, intriguing artist who creates music on their own terms, and there is much more than meets the eye. The authenticity with which he processes his experiences suggests that for Americana, creating music is a lifestyle, an essential part of what makes them human.
“[Music is] an itch that never quite goes away,” he shared. “Knowing that I have this way with words and an opportunity to make someone feel less alone or like they can do anything really drives my work. If there’s just one person listening, I am content with that.”
And with this grounded sense of purpose, Jay Americana will not let anything stand in their way.
Follow Jay Americana for the latest information on their upcoming projects, including “sweat,” the lead single from 555, which drops on March 16.
Cynthia Gross is a freelance writer and award-winning spiritual pop artist based in Maryland. With more than a decade of experience as an executive ghostwriter, she understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
Queer duo Witch Weather discuss new album and the influence of the DMV on their sound.
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Join Alchemical Records as they connect with Witch Weather to discuss the band’s new self-titled album, their search for a sense of belonging as members of the queer community, the important element that keeps the duo’s creative bond strong, and the influence of the DMV on their sound.