I got to sit down with a driven artist to chat about what we all love — music! Let me introduce you, to J.Lately: this young man has the tenacity that will inspire anyone wanting to grow and find their sound. Born in California and inspired by a family of talent, J.Lately shares a brief synopsis of his story and his love of music.
I know for a fact he is being noticed by some big artists right now, so if you don’t know who he is — eventually, you will.
With his authenticity, his dedication to his craft, and ever-growing creativity, J.Lately’s future is bright! Here’s what he had to say:
Thanks for sitting down with us! Can you tell us your first memory with music?
- JL: This is definitely not my first memory with music, but it’s one from my childhood that has always stood out to me. Modern dancing has always been one of my mom’s passions and, when I was a real little kid, she used to rent out this small studio space sometimes where she would go practice. She would often bring me along when there was no one else to watch me at home. I loved it because I would wear sweatpants and socks and slide all over the smooth hardwood floor while she practiced. I have this vivid memory of just running around the dance studio sliding all over the place to ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon that, for some reason, has always stuck with me.
You’re from Sebastopol, California. Did it have an influence on your writing?
- I’m sure it did… probably in all types of ways that I’m not even aware of. I think one major influence it had on my writing, though, was forcing me to really develop my own personal style and voice, and figure out how that connected with others who may not come from the same background as I did.
- Sebastopol is a small suburban — and some might even say ‘country’ — town where the majority of things you hear being talked about in rap songs aren’t actually taking place. Most of the music I grew up listening to was talking about things that were way different from what I was experiencing on a day-to-day basis in my hometown. I had to learn to creatively weave my own reality into this form of music where I hadn’t seen any examples at that point of people who lived like I did. In the end, it really helped me develop the ability to write about the human experience that connects us all, despite the differences in our environments and lifestyles.
Omg, I saw this clip about flying up to Prince George, Canada, touring with Locksmith. They flew up the day-of, but you decided to fly up the night before, thinking the airport was open all night. Tell us what happened!
- Yeah, that was one of the most stupid tour decisions I’ve ever made. I flew into this tiny airport late at night and my plan was to just sleep on a bench until everyone else showed up the next morning. As I was falling asleep, this security guard woke me up and told me that I needed to leave the airport because it was closing. I didn’t realize that some small airports don’t stay open all night. As I looked around, I realized that practically everyone had left, including the cabs lined up outside. Thinking back on it now, I probably should have asked the security guard if he could call me a cab and just put up the money to get a hotel for the night, but I was trying to save whatever money I could. So, what happened is, I ended up having to spend the night outside on the front steps of the airport.
- Once I was out there and everyone was gone, I realized how stupid of a decision that was. I was in what felt like the wilderness. There was a huge statue of a bear out front, which made me assume that we were probably in bear territory, and from what I could see, I was pretty much on an empty patch of land surrounded by forest. I was super freaked out that some sort of wildlife was going to come and eat me. I put on a bunch of extra layers of clothing that I had in my bag and just huddled up on the front steps of the airport where there were still a few lights on. I had downloaded a bunch of shows on my phone for the plane ride, so I just sat there watching them all night until the sun came up, making sure that I didn’t fall asleep. When the first security guard showed up at 6am to open the airport up I immediately went inside and found a bench to fall asleep on. Not at all the best start to a tour.
Now that is being one with nature! Let’s talk your style… it’s a mesh of all types of music. What bands inspire you to evolve and keep going?
- I wouldn’t necessarily say there are any specific bands or artists that influence me to create the style of music that I make, but I am inspired by a huge variety of music. I’ve always been all over the place in terms of what I’ve listened to. Some of my most formative years as a hip hop fan were filled with 50 Cent, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and pretty much anything that came out of Aftermath, while others were filled with Mos Def, Blu & Exile, Dilated Peoples, Common, and Atmosphere.
- The first music that I really fell in love with was oldies from riding around in the car with my dad, and these days I find myself mixing in a lot of neo-soul, R&B, and indie pop. It’s hard for me to even say who my favorite artists are right now. I just like a whole bunch of stuff that feels super random and disjointed to me, but somehow, combines to form my musical taste.
Tell us about touring and who goes with you? Separate and different collaborations?
- I’ve gone on a few solo tours and I have also been fortunate enough to tour with folks that I look up to, like Zion I, Andre Nickatina, Locksmith, and A-Plus of Hieroglyphics.
- It’s never quite the same group of people, but I’m most comfortable when it’s me and StevieBoy Muziq — who is my go-to DJ. Touring is a really interesting thing on an interpersonal level. It is the type of thing where extra special bonds are developed. I always compare it to being on a sports team together or going to an overnight camp together; it feels like you gain a year’s worth of bonding in just a week.
So, what’s in store for 2023?
- I’ll be releasing a new song every month for the rest of 2023, which is what I’ve been doing so far for the first half of the year. And it also looks like there is a tour in the works for the end of 2023, as well.
I love that song “Shouldn’t Do”… both acoustic and hip hop versions! What’s song’s inspiration?
- Lot 49 is the other group that’s on the song with me. Sometime last year, they hit me up to be on a show with them in San Francisco and we clicked. I had this beat that my producer West Coast Trey and I had made together a while ago and had never done anything with; it was in this more kind of poppy Cali reggae vibe that I thought would fit them, so I reached out to see if they wanted to collaborate on it and they were down. Their singer, Ryan, laid down a hook on it that I really liked. We played with his wording a little bit to make it fit well for both of us and then I wrote my verses. We also added in some live bass guitar and some additional production and sound effects to fill it out.
- It was fun to see the whole thing come to life out of a beat that my producer and I had made together that we had kind of come to the conclusion was never going to get used.
You are very proactive and growing your brand every day! Do you have a team helping with this process?
- For the most, part it’s all me. No management, no label, etc. But to say that it’s ‘all me’ would devalue all the contributions that are made by the people I work with. I have a couple of producers who I work with exclusively — one of which mixes all my music. I have a mastering engineer that I use pretty much exclusively. I have a graphic artist who does almost all of my artwork and graphics. I have a distribution company that I deal exclusively with. I have a DJ who performs with me for almost all my live shows. It’s 100% me on my own coming up with and executing my strategies and plans, but there are a ton of people that I bring into the fold to assist me where I need it.
Who would you love to tour with?
- Too many people to name, but an easy answer here is Atmosphere.
What would you tell other artists going through it all?
- Approach your career in a way that makes you feel happy and comfortable with yourself. It seems terrifying to think that you make it pretending to be someone you are not and have to spend the rest of your life trying to keep up that facade. On the other hand, imagine how freeing it would be to make it by being the truest version of yourself and all you have to do to keep being successful is just remain your true self for the rest of your life. The journey will never be easy, but it feels a lot more worthwhile when you get to be who you want to be along the way.
J.Lately – “Should Do” feat. Lot 49
Cover and thumbnail photos by Owl Green