Californian artist EL-JAY is the oldest of three children. He is the son of multi-platinum artist, Rome, whose big hit was “I Belong to You”. Entertaining and music has always been present in El J’s life. EL-JAY taught himself how to dance at the tender age of five years old. EL-JAY had the opportunity to sing on Rome’s independent album “To the Highest”, as well as appear in his dad’s “People of This World” video. He was also an actor and model at a very young age; and considers writer/director/producer Tyler Perry a huge motivation to his entertainment career.
EL-JAY has made several studio audience appearances on the popular NBC game show Minute to Win It. He has also made appearances in a couple of short films directed by Adam Paul Rodriguez. The progression of EL-JAY’s talents and abilities quickly landed him an appearance in several major Disney television shows: Sonny with a Chance, Hannah Montana, along with Zeek and Luther. We hooked up with EL-JAY for an exclusive interview about his career and thoughts…
1. How long have you been singing, dancing and acting and how did you get started in the first place?
EL-JAY: I have been singing for the past three years and acting and modeling since I was a toddler.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
EL-JAY: Micheal Jackson has been a major influence in my path to becoming an Artist. Alongside my father who I have also looked up to throughout his musical career. Watching him through the years has helped me confirm my musical venture create my own legacy.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
EL-JAY: A few artist I am currently listening n to have been August Alsina, Chris Brown and Justin Bieber. Chris Brown would a perfect collab for myself because of his artistic ability and charisma.
4. At school you were a 6’1’’ kid. Which sports were you involved in?
EL-JAY: My game of choice has always been basketball but I have also ran track and baseball.
5. What eventually made you go from sports to the entertainment business?
EL-JAY: After continuing my basketball years into community college I kept finding myself reverting back to my music. Its my passion and always will be. I knew that this was my calling and that’s when the dynamics of my life began to change. Music has become more then an outlet it has become my life.
6. Tell us about your experiences and how you got involved with several major Disney television shows like Sonny with a Chance, Hannah Montana, along with Zeek and Luther?
EL-JAY: My overall experience with these shows/ networks were life changing and once in a lifetime opportunities. Learning about myself and the audience I must connect with has opened my eyes and helped me better develop myself as an artist.
7. How was Tyler Perry a huge influence on your entertainment career?
EL-JAY: Tyler Perry has made a big name for himself through writing film and acting. He is a self starter and I thrive to have the same success. I look forward to learning from him and working with him in the near future.
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8. On which one of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
EL-JAY: I believe my best performances to be my record “Alone”. From an emotional standpoint I was going through a tough time in my life. So this record helped me to better connect with my inner feelings and helped me in my time of despair. From a technical point of view this record is one that my fans can relate and that is the key.
9. Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in comparison to other artists in your genre?
EL-JAY: You will just have to wait and see.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
EL-JAY: My passion for my music and what it stands for drives me to succeed and continue to stay in this business. Nothing comes easy and hard work is necessary to achieve the goals I have set in the forefront.
11. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
EL-JAY: Being an independent artist is an amazing moment in itself because I have to find the creativity within myself. The more I continue to work on my music the more I learn about myself as an Artist. I have not had many discouraging moments because of the positive energy and people I surround myself with. My battles become my triumphs.
12. I understand that your dad wrote your first song. Does he still write for you and who else do you work with when writing new material?
EL-JAY: He did write my first song and I was excited to have his help. As of right now he is working on his own projects but you never know what the future holds. When it comes to studio time and new writing material I have my accomplice Maria Villella. She has been here since day one and has helped me with my vocal training and performances as a whole.
13. How involved are you in any or all of the recording, producing, mastering, and marketing processes of your music. Do you outsource any of these processes?
EL-JAY: I am a very hands on artist. I like to be involved as much as I can and it just helps to understand the many parts of the music industry. As an artist I stay with an open-mind to anyone that shows the same passion for music.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
EL-JAY: The best advice I have received has been to stay true to myself and stay humble. Staying humble is the key and always keep God first.
15. At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
EL-JAY: As of right now I desire to have a bigger fan base though music, television acting at an international level.
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16. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
EL-JAY: As of right now I wouldn’t be anywhere as an Artist without the social media and its tools to help promote my music and movement. From my covers on youtube and my bio on websites it has just been rewarding and I am truly grateful.
17. If you were forced to choose only one of the following three, would you be an actor, a dancer or a singer, and why?
EL-JAY: There would be no way to choose between the three because they all make up different parts of myself.
18. Does your single, “Emergency” best describe the sound and style you ultimately want? Or will you be aiming elsewhere in the future.
EL-JAY: Emergency was just the ice breaker. This was my way of presenting myself into this industry. Day by day I’m finding ways to improve my voice so that I can venture into all genres of music.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist and performer, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider spread success?
EL-JAY: Politics is the biggest roadblock for all independent artist including myself. Just getting my records played is a challenge in itself but with my determination and dedication I will persevere.
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful artistic career?
EL-JAY: I am not willing to be anything more or anything less then the Artist I already have and continue to be.
21. Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future? And do you have any shoutouts?
EL-JAY: Projects I’m working on right now as we speak is my mixtape NEW BORN and will be released on NEW YEARS. It will be hosted by DJ Official Preemo. I am currently working on the WEBISODES SAG SERIES called “RECKLESS”, so lookout for that. More projects are in the works and we will definitely keep you updated. Stay Tuned!
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