It’s incredible how children can pick up music at such a young age, and even with the nonsensical lyrics that they come up with at that time, it can eventually lead them to become real artists, just like Jye. Besides enjoying skating, painting, and photography, the Australian singer-songwriter remembers toying with music since the age of 12, during which time Jye’s interest aligned with what was to come.
Since releasing his first single “Beachy Girl” in 2017, the singer-songwriter has slowly but steadily garnered a following, standing out for his sense of rebellion and modesty. Still, it was his single, “A Shitty Love Song”, which he created in less than half an hour that gave Jye the recognition he sought on Spotify and YouTube.
Jye’s latest single “Sleeping In” comes from his upcoming new album due to be released in 2022, and it’s a refreshing tune that blends warm guitar melodies and electronic rhythms with a tinge of R&B that keeps listeners vibing all the way through. An apt showcase of his maturity as an artist, it’s a tantalising teaser for what else he has in store when his album is unveiled next year. In the meantime, we caught up with the Australian singer-songwriter, who opens up about how he continues to bare his soul through his music. Make sure to read until the end for a musical treat for the ears.
Hi Jye, how have you been holding up with the pandemic?
I moved back to my hometown the week when the pandemic started to break out in Australia, and luckily, COVID hasn’t had that big of an effect on us here. The worst part has been seeing how it has affected other people – a lot of people are really struggling. We have a couple of lockdowns, but nothing too serious. I know it’s not very good for many people’s mental health, but I’m pretty happy spending most of my time indoors working on music and art, so it kind of felt good in a weird way not feeling obligated to go outside to socialise.
Let’s get to know you a little bit more. Where are you from and what are your early memories about music?
I grew up in a small surf town on the east coast of Australia called Coolum. My earliest memories of music have to be going through my dad’s tapes and CD collections. I wasn’t allowed to listen to all of them, but I was fixated by the art and everything. He had some cool stuff in there, like Iggy Pop cassettes; I remember being fascinated by what has to be my best memory – Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory!
How do you think your music tastes have changed since then?
I still listen to all the stuff I grew up with from time to time. I keep adding [music influences] over time – it’s almost ritualistic where I go back and listen to all my favourite songs from my entire life every six months or so! It can be detrimental to my music creation because one day, I’ll be listening to some more hardcore music from my early teens and want to start a hardcore project, then the next day, I will be listening to The Fray and want to write some acoustic stuff. At some point, the lines blur, and I just make whatever flows.
Was there anyone or anything in particular that led you to create music?
I have always liked music and have been writing music since I was 12, but what really made me want to create music was the technological side of things. I’m a bit of a tech nerd with an early fascination for recording music, and obsessing over photos of studios forced me down the route of producing. Just playing guitar was never enough for me; I had to record and layer stuff. I just loved experimenting, I guess. It took me over a year, and then I didn’t have my laptop or anything, so I had to use my dad’s when he wasn’t. I was only allowed like an hour or so a day! I actually saved it for my first interface right after I got my first guitar.
Do you still remember the first song you ever wrote?
Apparently, I wrote a song about my dad coming home from work when I was 4. I mean, I couldn’t actually write stuff down, but I supposedly sung it – I can’t really remember that far back clearly. When I was 12, I started writing songs “properly;” I’ve never sung them in front of anyone to this day, but the original printouts I did are sitting somewhere. They were super dark for a 12-year-old; the only line I can really remember is of the first one I wrote: ‘When the darkness closes in, and all is left to fear’. Pretty weird, eh?
How has your formula for making music evolved?
I’m still just a kid with a laptop and a bit of recording gear. Other than getting better skill-wise and getting more gear, it’s pretty much the same as the first time I hit record. I just experiment, write down whatever pops into my head lyric-wise; sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not! The only major difference is that as time has gone on, I’ve gotten more fluent in guitar, music theory knowledge, and navigating Ableton. The more stuff I continue to make, the better it gets.
Tell us about your first three EPs and how they have led the way to where you are as an artist today?
I think they are really important in showing my progression as an artist, especially leading into this next album. I’ve matured a lot musically, and I think it’s quite cool for both myself and anyone who checks out my stuff to hear how the project has developed over time. For me, it’s endearing to listen back to the Disposable Love EP and hear such a lack of confidence in my voice: it’s real shaky, and I just couldn’t sing a single note right at that point in time. That whole EP is a fluke vocal-wise. I’m honestly surprised I never gave up. The songs I’ve written over the years will always be really special to me – they are little slices of my life I’m shot back into when I listen back to them. I can distinctly remember making almost every song, and being able to visualise that when I listen to them is quite a nice experience.
If you have to describe your music to someone using one of your songs, which would it be and why?
Whoa, that’s a tough question! I think this new single “Sleeping In” sums up the direction I want to take the project and a taste of what’s to come. Unfortunately, that’s the only song that does that for me at the moment, so if I had to show another, it’d be ‘A Shitty Love Song’ as that’s what I’ve been known for so far.
“Sleeping In” is such an incredible two-part single. Can you tell us the idea behind this song and the music video as well?
This song sat half-finished for over a year, with only the first half – the more bouncy, flowy verse and chorus. I never knew what to do with it. The message in the first verse felt concise, but it wasn’t enough. I was in a pretty bad car accident with an ex-partner a couple of years ago, and it really changed my perspective on life. It was a moment in which I decided I really wanted to pursue music. I thought it would be interesting to add this aspect to the song. The second half was built on this idea; I wanted to give this dreamlike reflection off the first verse with the implication of having crashed into the water and the ‘life flashing before your eyes’ moment. Levi Cranston, the director, really brought this to life visually. The video implies this idea of being blinded by love, leading to the crash scene, the crash being the only prompt we talked about for a video. I think it’s really cool when you can get other creatives involved and they offer their interpretation.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
This record is super exciting for me; it feels like a coming-of-age album. Though I’m super proud of it, it’s not the end-all-be-all for me, but certainly a step in the right direction. It feels a lot more mature than the previous stuff; I’ve grown a lot as a person since those releases, and I think it shows. Most of the tracks were written in a transitional period in my life, and the production also reflects that, which is cool. I wanted to express a range of different ideas with this album and set myself up for a career that allows for more experimentation with genres. I refrained a little from trying certain things to please what I thought my fan base wanted with a lot of my earlier releases. It’s been really liberating to let go and make what feels to me, at least, something that jumps around a little while still being concise.
Is there anyone or anything that you are particularly inspired by for your upcoming album?
I’ve always liked listening to and making so many different things by taking small ideas from all these different tracks I hear. I might listen to some electronic stuff and really like a synth patch and try to recreate it, or a beat on another song just gets me creating from all these different places. It keeps it unique as well as I’m never influenced by anything in particular for a track.
What are some of your favourite music moments as an artist so far?
“A Shitty Love Song” was definitely a big moment for me. It was the first track to hit one million streams on YouTube and Spotify and never really had any playlist support. A lot of people don’t know this, but I actually recorded it on a whim a couple of hours before finalising my first EP. I had already uploaded all but one of the tracks to Soundcloud, and people were starting to get excited about it! I kind of felt bad just adding one new song and calling it an EP, so I recorded that track. I had written it when I was 16, hence the corniness, and it only took about 20 minutes to flesh it all out! I never thought I’d do so well and part of me was mad for ages that it did and not something I put more effort into. I really like that song now, though, and it has shaped my perspective on music and my career in a good way. I think my music started to get a lot better when I started letting go of trying to make everything complex and just learning not to waste any more energy on something that doesn’t need it!
One of the other most exciting things by far has been connecting with other musicians and people I look up to and sharing this mutual respect and excitement for each other’s work. I was meant to go over to LA for a holiday in early 2020 and hang out with some people I met through Spotify and Soundcloud, which would have been a highlight for sure, but Covid messed that up. Coming from a small-ish coastal town, there aren’t heaps of like-minded people around, especially doing what I’m trying to do. I mean, they are there, but it’s not like Melbourne or Sydney, so having real close friends now around the globe that are all working for the same dream and being able to chat and share ideas is super cool.
With a few months left in 2021, do you have anything you’d like to achieve?
I feel like the rest of 2021 is just riding out the release cycle of my new singles! I have so much music stored up and am just really excited it’s all coming out! I’d like to be able to go on a holiday or something and visit friends and family in Melbourne I haven’t been able to see for a while because of Covid!
Tell us about this playlist you have curated for us.
Mainly just a mix of what I ask Siri to put on next on the way to and from work at the moment! I get really into it while I’m driving to be honest, and these are what set me up for a good day.
Cruise around with tunes picked by Jye.
Cover Credit: Noah Gallagher
Writer | CK Yeoh
CK is a writer from Malaysia who is in a serious relationship with music and YouTube. He is also casually dating Kindle and having a fling with podcasts.