Catch up with LA-based singer-songwriter Cody Jay and listen to his single "Beautiful" off his latest acoustic album, Off The Vine.
What got you interested in music and in songwriting?
Cody Jay: I've been involved in music my entire life. Both my parents are really into music - my mom's a singer and my dad plays guitar - but they never really made it a career of theirs, they just enjoyed music. So they showed me music from when I was a little kid, exposed me to all different types, and I just decided - [laughs] before I really knew what was involved in all of it - that that's what I wanted to do. I didn't know how, I didn't know what field or what genre of music I would want. I did musicals growing up, I was that musical theater kid, and then I went to college and I studied music in college too, but that was classical music and I enjoyed it but it just didn't feel right; I was still searching for that one thing that resonated with me, and I think I found it.
Do you remember the first song you wrote that helped you to find your genre?
Yeah, it was the single off of the album Off The Vine. It was "Animal" and that was the first music video I came out with and it just springboarded everything into that genre. I think, even from that track, my sound is continuing to evolve. I have a lot of tracks that are coming out pretty soon that I'm really, really excited for so I don't want any spoilers but, the more that I produce in this genre, the more I'm finding my voice and I'm able to express myself as a person too, rather than just a producer in that genre.
Which musicians were you influenced by?
The people I listened to growing up were a wide variety of different genres but the ones that influenced me the most actually were Michael Jackson, Usher, Justin Timberlake, and some of the acoustic people like James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot. I listened to rappers too growing up, I listened to a lot of Lil Wayne [laughs]. All different types of music have been a part of my life and I just finally picked a genre but, subtly, if you listen to my tracks you can hear some of those influences in there.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music before?
Urban pop and R&B. That's what I decided worked for my music 'cause, you know, it's like, well, the long answer is acoustic pop, R&B, rap, urban.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Beautiful"?
I did release the "Beautiful" acoustic single, which is a cover of the original track off of the first album. It's a story and I'm speaking directly to one person about everything that we have and it's like, don't keep score of all of the little petty things that you'll argue about everyday, there's a bigger picture and that bigger picture is that what we have is beautiful: forget about all the little things. In the lyrics I say, "tell me when you'll stop pretending that you're not keeping score/we can mend this if you're open, it doesn't matter if it's broken/reach out your feelings to me or I can't be the things that I know that you need/but above all the only thing I can ask of you is that you believe that what we have is true". The inspiration was to show a different side of my artistry through acoustic music and show that I'm not just producing this slow, down-tempo R&B-type jams. I do believe the things that I'm saying, so it's a different way to hear the song, even though it's the same song.
Could you tell us more about your debut album Off The Vine and what people can expect to hear?
They can hear a throwback feel with a modern take. When people hear it, they say that it feels like there's some '90s R&B influence in there with modern, urban R&B stylings. I guess it could be a perfect blend between Usher's Confessions and Justin Bieber's Journals album.
Why did you decide to release this acoustic version of Off The Vine?
I kind of stumbled into it, it wasn't a plan and I didn't plan to do it. A very good friend of mine, Todd McCool - he's the one who's playing guitar on all of the tracks - he came over and we were hanging out one day and he decided to play along to some of my songs on the album, just with a guitar, and I started singing along and I said, "wow, this is really cool, I think I'd like to release an acoustic version of the album because it just has such a different feel". They almost feel like different songs. I just stumbled into it, but then I realized how cool it would be for me to release acoustic music when I never really saw myself being that artist, I never really saw myself being the acoustic guy. I had a really good time making it and I'd like to do more in the future.
You said each track sounds different, is there a song off the first album you'd call your favorite versus a favorite on the acoustic album?
Ooh, yeah. I think I chose "Beautiful" as the single because that one really just sounds so different between the different versions. On the first album, "One Day" has always been one of my favorite tracks and there's a music video out for that one too which is really cool. I would say, on the original album, my favorite track would be "One Day" but, on the acoustic album, my favorite track would be "Beautiful".
How would you sum up Off The Vine in one sentence?
A familiar yet unique album that expresses just the beginning of what Cody Jay has to offer.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
I hope that they see a little bit into who I am, both as a person and as an artist. I give so much of myself and it's how I express myself, I express myself through my music and through my voice, and I hope that I speak to people and, when they listen to it, they each have their own interpretation of it and it means something different to everyone. I don't want everyone to just hear what I heard or I thought, I think the beauty about music is that it speaks to everyone differently and as long as they feel something from it, then I think I did my job.
Is there anything you want to add?
I have videos for the acoustic songs coming out soon. The release dates are probably in about a month or so, but they're all going to be on my official YouTube channel, so be sure to look out for those.