Women in Music: Kayla Jay
Artist name: Kayla Jay
Kayla Jay is a native of North Carolina and New Jersey. At a young age her parents noticed her love of music and bought her a keyboard. This was the start to her love of performing arts and her passion for music. With a background in choir, Kayla dedicated herself to the study of music theory and audio engineering where her natural talent flourished and once it did, she left theory and lessons behind and concentrated on creating her own music and the art of production. Kayla Jay started producing music for herself and other musicians six years ago. Her sound is distinctive with a seasoned maturity that is evident as you listen to her songs.
As opposed to solely performing, Kayla actually works on her own productions and song-writing, allowing a deeper involvement of the artist at the most important stages of the creation and production process. The sound is all about uplifting and sometimes dark melodies, thought- provoking lyrics and steady beats. Her voice is soulful and far from the ubiquitous pop tunes of today.
Q. You are so beautifully the unexpected, what makes you different from other artists?
A. I really feel that my role in my own creative process sets me apart. I control what I do from beginning to end, so I get to really put my unadulterated message out into the world. I’m also not what you’re probably expecting when you hear me before you see me. I’ve heard I’m not the standard for beauty in music, but I don’t allow that to stop me, and the thing is, I know I am beautiful. Everyone is in their own way.
Q. We understand that you write your own songs and assist in the production and engineering of your music. Why do you feel that this is so important as a modern day musician?
A. I do write my own songs. I hire an engineer, but as far as production goes, that’s all me. No assistance there. For me, making my own music fulfills the creative needs I have. Creating one’s own music is empowering. It’s the process of putting yourself on a plate and letting it out for the world to observe, whether it’s to share what’s important to you, or to finally get something off your chest, or just because you want to leave a piece of yourself for the books.
Q. The charity you chose for your fans to donate to was The Covenant House, which is an organization dedicated to helping our homeless youth. Is there a reason that this cause is so close to your heart?
A. Last winter, my friend and I signed up for a “sleep out”. We weren’t sure what to expect, but the insight we received was amazing. We met homeless teens in Atlantic city at the Covenant house youth shelter. They told us their stories. Some of them cried to see so many people willing to try and understand what they’ve been through. You never notice them because they’re so good at hiding, but there are almost 100 homeless teens in Atlantic city alone and they don’t all get help or shelter.
During our sleep out, we were given a sleeping bag and a cardboard box, and we laid on cement in like, 19 degree weather, overnight to see how it is to be stuck outside. It is impossible to sleep. Many of these children don’t have any option to even go inside to relieve themselves. They just want the same things everyone else wants. Covenant House provides shelter, rooms, beds, and options to learn life skills and go on job interviews. They are the family these kids need. When you look at these kids you see your children in their eyes. It touches you to your core.
Q. If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
A. I would just want to increase and encourage compassion. I think, especially where we live, we’ve created a society that’s so hung up on superficial things, we’re so entitled, that we don’t see the true suffering around us. I would want us to lift them up without pitying them, feed the hungry, take care of each other. We’re all in this together, here and now.
Q. If you could perform with any artist/band in the world who would it be and why?
A. Honestly, if I could sit in a quiet room with Lady Gaga and a piano, I would be thrilled. I think she has such a beautiful mind and she is so humbled by the adoration she receives, it’s touching. She also has a great message. I think that gets lost because everyone wants to focus on a meat dress or whatever. I’m like, people, she writes her own songs, she plays the piano like a pro, and she’s actually saying something here. To me, she is a true artist.
Q. Which artists are on your playlists?
A. Lord, I have everything on my playlist. Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Adele, Ricky Martin… All the way to Otep, Don Omar, Busy Signal…Elton John, Queen, Etta James, Shakira… I don’t think there are enough hours in the day to list everyone I listen to.
Q. What does it mean to be a woman in music to you?
A. It partly means there’s an expectation for me to fit a mold I will never fit into, and I don’t care. It means I’m at the forefront of a movement to empower other women. It means I’m going to take this as far as I can take it and I’m going to make a mark, because we are still at the beginning of showing our teeth. I’m going to carve out a piece of the 5% of female presence in the production/engineering world and make that a higher percentage.
Q. What can people do to encourage women in music?
A. Listen. Stop pushing us based on what we wear, or the size we are, and listen to our voices and our messages. If it’s about money, you will never make more than if you let us speak to our young women and show them that they can attain their dreams.
Q. What are you up to next?
A. A lot more music. Another music video. Hopefully some placements.