Following stellar releases on renowned labels such as Superfreq, Hot Creations, and her own imprint People Of The Light, Jay Hill makes her debut on Constant Circles with a forthcoming remix of label regular Joal. Ahead of the release, we invited her along for a chat and a guest mix on the radio show with Just Her:
Hey Jay, welcome to CC 🙂 Firstly, what is your background and how did you get into music?
Thanks so much for having me Claire! I got into music when I was in San Francisco in my late teens & early 20’s. I grew up a church kid so I loved everything that was different – I was taking guitar & songwriting lessons from a former heavy metal hairband lead guitarist. He was teaching me more folky electronica stuff, and at the same time I started going out in clubs and really loved the early west coast house, industrial and trip hop stuff (all of it). As things evolved I had a boyfriend that was an elite studio engineer & ambient producer in LA, I ended up moving there and he taught me how to produce & record beats so that I could start making the music I loved! At the same time, I started a copywriting business (www.thewritingstudio.us) and through interviewing so many DJ’s, decided to learn for myself so that I could understand all these things they were talking about !
Where are you based and how has your home country or town influenced your music & career?
I’m currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. After I left LA I moved to New York City in 2011 and was immediately immersed into the club culture & East Coast sounds as I started getting booked for gigs. This stuff starts to become so much more alive & real for you when you start playing! At the same time I was throwing parties & booking big A list DJ’s and it just kept evolving until I decided to go back to school & get an audio engineering degree. I also started getting booked around the US – Detroit, Chicago, DC, Boston etc. all of which have their own unique sounds & influences, which is the best part of DJing – you start to adapt to the crowds your playing to and here I am!
How would you describe your sound – do you think your music falls into a particular genre?
For folks in the industry I say it’s either “deep tech, acid house, minimal & techno” as I feel most my tracks usually fall within those brackets but that being said, I’m really trying to expand and evolve & push some boundaries outside of that. . . to people who may not be in the know on all the dance music genres I say “underground style house & techno” or “non-commercial dance music” and try to leave it at that lol!
You are making your debut on Constant Circles with a remix of Joal – how did you approach the remix and what direction did you take it?
Just over the moon about this project! Still working on this but my goal is try some new different beat patterns in a style similar to a track I made with Arctor called Mercurial (which we released on Superfreq last year). That being said, Arctor is a master with blending various breaks & techno beats, I’m not going in the breakbeat category but trying to grasp some elements so it’s not cookie cutter if that makes sense?!
What is your production process – is each project or track different? And what are your key pieces of studio kit?
Yes every track & project is vastly different – I go in phases where I’m loving dreamy melodic tech/deep house and others I am feeling like making a ramming dark techno warehouse – no rhyme or rhythm to it at all! My process is to simply finish what I start & that means I work on only one track at a time until I complete it – even if it’s shit, I put all my energy and attention into it and finish it. I don’t allow loads of 32 bar loops “ideas” to sit on my hard drive — that’s just not me. This way of working has served me I think in that I don’t crank out a lot of volume tracks but really try to bring the best quality to what I’m doing.
As for the studio kit – I have a super simple studio my mentors (Pete Moss & King Britt) taught me to use what I have & not get caught up in being a gear head but be focused on what’s coming out of the speakers. Right now my Roland TR8 drum machine and my Analogue Lab keyboard/VST are everything to me. I use these two machines like they are going out of style. I’ve always had it in my mind that my gear can be upgraded over the years and not let that hold me back with my ego wanting to show off “this or that gear etc.” I mean I do hope to one day but right now the focus is on the output!
You also run your own label, People Of The Light. What is the concept behind this and what advice would you give to any artists looking starting their own imprint?
Frankly the original concept behind POTL was to use it as a platform to release my back catalogue of tracks & remix projects. But since I started in January of 2020 it’s now transformed into something so much different; in that now I see it as a platform to release music that connects people. When I started I had the support of a lot of people & that was super important to get lifted off the ground. I’m definitely looking forward to the future with POTL as I really wanted to do label nights & start to bring other artists in – I really didn’t want the label to be about me, but about the music.
Admittedly, this label is a Bob Ross “happy accident” when I started I hardly had a clue about what it takes to run a label & all the behind the scenes stuff that goes along with it. This was probably the worst year to start it, but everything happens for a reason and I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished through this pandemic!
My advice is to people thinking about starting a label – #1 you need to have enough funds to properly pay the people you need to help you do your job – graphic artists, writers, promotional companies etc. and be honorable with that stuff don’t dick people around with paying when you say you will etc. and #2 do your homework on the people you’re working with from your distributor to the promo companies – I feel the people I’ve developed relationships with along the way truly support me and get my vision – I feel so grateful to all the people that have been on board with POTL, it’s something that goes far deeper than just words on paper ya know what I mean?!
Can you tell us something most people won’t know about you?
Ha this will probably shock & scare some folks – from my San Francisco days I once applied to be a ‘Survelliance Officer’ for the FBI — I passed all the tests & exams and received a job offer (my father has it in the basement). I was so in love with making music, that life scared the crap out of me and quickly realized that if I chose that path I’d never be able to be into music the way I wanted to be. Definitely a major crossroads in my life! Obviously if I was a spy I wouldn’t be here talking about it hahah!
What is the coolest, wildest or worst gig you have ever played and why?
Alright I’m going with the wildest – so once I DJ’d a sex party at the top of the Trump Hotel in Manhattan (yep) best paying gig ever I think the tickets were $500/pop for entry. I got to play really hard industrial techno for a change which was so fun!
What do you have coming up in terms of releases and gigs (or live streams)?
Have to be honest I really don’t have much on the books at the moment. It’s such a weird time, I’ve just returned from the UK/Ireland and really focused on 2021 releases for POTL & bringing in new artists + label nights & such as soon as I can! Last year, I signed two tracks to a film (first time for that), and much looking forward to that film release its’ definitely stepping into a new realm for me and hoping to expand my sounds beyond in the years to come!
How did you put together your guest mix for the radio show & what have you included – any exclusives or surprises?
I’ve started the mix with a remix I did for my friend in Manchester Jamie Christer, he made a beautiful tribute track for Mike Huckaby that I’ve not played before! It’s unreleased so kinda special to start the mix with this one! Secondly, I try to make my mixes have some dynamics and not be a flat bpm throughout, so you’ll hear some moments where it has some feel good house tunes but then moves into more melodic & techno spectrums! Being here in Philly have had the privilege of hearing Josh Wink’s sets and he’s one that’s never afraid to bounce from house to disco to techno from one track to the next, keeps things interesting! hope you enjoy xxx
Check out Jay’s guest mix on Constant Circles radio with Just Her: