Meet Jaylien: LA-based singer/songwriter, producer, label-owner, proud father, and recently-turned solo artist. The multi-talented musician wears many hats and has laid out a thorough foundation and groundwork of experience built on various facets of the music industry, rounding out to be a knowledgeable, in control and hands-on artist when it comes to his solo project. Jaylien got his start penning and producing pop songs for the likes of Akon, will.i.am, Britney Spears and Chris Brown, to name a few, all while founding and running a record label/creative collective called BlessAndSee. His debut EP titled Summer's Over is our first taste into the world of Jaylien, and boasts a collection of seven eclectic bangers, incorporating boundary-pushing production elements paired with a range of smooth, polished R&B melodies and pop sentiments.
Jaylien was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, into a musical family and home environment, where music was always a hobby, yet a staple and vital part of his life. At the mere age of 17, he found out that he was going to be a father, and had to navigate quickly what he was going to do in order to support his daughter. At 18, he moved to New York to enroll in a certification program for audio engineering, but after discovering the often challenging and unprofitable nature of music school and producing, Jaylien moved back home to work jobs at McDonald’s and FedEx in order to support his daughter. In a desperate attempt to give music one more shot, Jaylien moved to Atlanta where he slept outside of studios, grinding to build a professional network, and hustling to get in rooms with the right people, writers and artists. A fateful meeting with Akon led to a cut on his song “Beautiful,” and changed Jaylien’s music career and what would roll out to be the rest of his life.
Jaylien: "100% my favorite moment was when Akon cut that song and the day it came out on the album, because I was so broke and that song changed my life. I was hungry, I was broke, I was 20 years old... I was young and in the streets, for real. I was in Atlanta grinding - sleeping outside of studios, harassing and annoying people, hitting them up on Myspace, emailing people night and day. So that was the big exhale moment for me. Especially when it got the radio impact date too and they told me it was going to be on the radio, you know what those checks are like... thank you, SESAC! Haha. So that's a moment that I will never forget. It was a big moment for me and I got to do a lot of things that I wanted to do for my daughter. And for myself, too, it opened up a lot of doors and it's a moment very special to me."
In 2011, Jaylien moved to LA and landed a co-write on will.i.am’s “Scream and Shout” featuring Britney Spears, and the rest is mostly history. Since, Jaylien has gotten a handful of major co-writes under his belt, dabbled in stage production for Cody Simpson and Justin Bieber’s live tours, ramped up his solo project, and launched his own record label and artist development platform, where he discovered and developed Kanye West protege, Kacy Hill. She had never sang or written a song before, so Jaylien guided, developed and fostered her as an artist, and produced her first well-acclaimed single, ‘Experience
Jaylien: "I got to a point where I was like, I'm way too talented and have too much to offer to the world that I can't express through other artists' songs. I want to give my songs to the world, and I just didn't know how to at the time. So I started my own label, and I was like, 'this is how.' Nobody can tell me that these songs aren't going to make the album, because I'm making the albums."
"So we started with this girl Kacy Hill, and I just put all my energy into her. We went hard with her, put all of our creative energy into her, and literally five months after we started working together, she signed with Kanye West. The thing about Kacy is that she has a voice that captivates you, and you don't even have to see her. You just gotta look for artists with a unique sound, the market is so saturated, so you have to stand out and be doing something different."
Jaylien approaches his own project and music with the same high standard and taste level, and the product is a cohesive, pristine body of work, with on-the-rise producer choices including collaborations with OWSLA’s Josh Pan, Sam Gellaitry, Tom Misch and Oshi. The songs push the boundaries of the current R&B/hip-hop sphere, with glossy production elements and Jaylien’s smooth flow, all while encapsulating the romantic feelings and vibes of summer in Los Angeles. The EP is a solid and authentic introduction to Jaylien as a solo artist, and we are confident that this is merely the beginning of what will be a persevering musical career. His drive to be in control, and to the best that he possibly can be in every aspect of his musical project, sets a strong precedent for what’s to come, and we look forward to the bright future of Jaylien’s artistry.
How did you pick your collaborators for the EP? Because you produce, and you easily could have done that yourself.
J: I listen to everything, in my phone right now I’ve got some Sampha, some Jamie xx, Francis and the Lights, Tom Misch… so I listen to everything and I’m always on Soundcloud looking for new talent. I still got my label hat on, so I’m always trying to look for new artists and producers, even if it’s people with 60 plays but are still hella dope. I just stumble upon a lot of people so I found Sam, I found Josh Pan, and I was just hitting them up like, ‘I like your beats, let’s collab’ and they were just down, it’s about the vibe. And I didn’t want to have a similar sound to other artists that people might compare me to from hearing one song or whatever, I wanted to create these different vibes and bring them into my world. Really create something that stands the test of time and will still sound fresh a year from now, or two years from now.
What sort of thought do you put into your visual brand for the project?
J: I grew up painting and drawing actually, and music was secondary to that at one point. Now it’s the other way around, haha so I’m into the aesthetics of everything and it really makes my heart smile when the fans write me saying ‘Yo, I didn’t know who you were, but I saw your album artwork on Apple Music because it looked cool’ - and I’m like, ‘that’s the point! Thank you very much!’ Haha. I have a team, BlessAndSee is a label and creative collective. So in BlessAndSee I have graphic designers, graphic artists, directors, videographers, so we just collab and create all this stuff together. I’m very hands on with the visuals, and really everything that you see that we put out. I’m very assertive and involved… My whole career has been in the hands of other people, I give my songs away and wait for a label to put them out. I write songs for somebody, then I wait for them to record it. With this I’m not giving anything away. I own myself, I’m signed to myself, I don’t have a major label behind me, I’m very independent, and I give a lot of love.
So how do you pick your your team, and what do you look for in those people?
J: First and foremost, I look for really hungry, good spirited people. I go to church every Sunday, and granted I don’t walk the life of Christ, haha but it’s still my core. So I’m really into spiritual connections, vibes and kinetic energy. I base it off of how you make me feel and what your intentions are, and after you pass that test, are you dope? Haha, I like people that are exceptional at what they do. Because I’m exceptional at what I do, or I like to think so at least. Like, if you make fonts, you make the illest fonts I’ve ever seen. Or the colors you make are different, like, that’s orange, but an orange color I’ve never seen before. So it’s based off of talent and energy, and people that just want to be making cool shit.
What can we expect from you for the next year or so?
J: The project’s only been out for like a few month, so it’s really doing it’s thing, with brands and other people helping out. Apple has really been playing this out and helping with the streams, putting me on the front page. It’s really been fast paced since I dropped the project, I’m just rolling with the punches at this point, every day is something new. But I eventually want to go on tour and be a supportive act for somebody that already has a built in fanbase. We’re in talks with a couple of people for some winter tours or whatever, and then I kind of want to release another project soon because I have so much music. I got everybody’s eyes and ears on it now, so I want to keep that momentum going. Just keep feeding the people, man. I’ve got a lot of fashion stuff coming up too, you’ll see me in a couple of ads and stuff.
What’s your definition of success?
J: Being able to create freely with no boundaries, no limitations, and to do it while being able to support my family. My whole family. To the point where I can retire my mom, or my daughter when she’s 16, like, she wants a car, but no question we can go to the lot and she can get whatever she wants. Being able to provide jobs for people, I meet a lot of people all the time and I want to be able to help. Like, oh you dance? I know people who dance for Britney Spears, I’ll put you in touch. Sometimes all they need is a chance, and I feel like there are not enough chances, and somebody took a chance on me. So I want to be able to provide that to people, when I’m able to give people chances, help change other people’s lives. That’s why I started BlessAndSee, because you literally see people’s lives change. Kacy drove a ‘96 Toyota Camry that was breaking down, now she drives a 2016 beamer, and that was because of me and my partner Stephen. I love doing that for people. So success to me would be to provide for my family, help other people, create more, and change people’s lives from that.
Favorite spots in LA?
J: I don’t really have a social life, we work all the time, but on the very rare occasion that I do go out… I’ll go to Hyde. My friend Billy throws these really cool reggae parties at Los Globos, it’s really grungy and sweaty, it’s dope though. I also like to bowl, I go bowling all the time, haha I’m from St. Louis, we do bowling tournaments when I go home.
Favorite brunch spots?
J: Square One Dining. I still like Blu Jam Cafe even though it’s crowded all the time. I like to eat at the SLS hotel, their rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes.