Aria Jay is an alternative R&B singer and songwriter who currently creates and produces artful and innovative music in Brooklyn, NY. Having studied and performed classical opera since the age of 11, Aria uses her impressive vocal technique to craft her unique sound. She worked with Opera Master Judy Hages and went on to study Jazz Performance and Composition at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan. There, she worked with greats, such as, Reggie Workman, Rachel Z, and Charles Tolliver. Since graduating, she has worked and toured with Joshua Kwassman (Truth Revolution Records) on his Brother Spirit albums, and with Viva Deconcini (Beat the Donkey/Taylor Mac). Recently, Aria Jay was chosen for an artist residency at Holyrad Studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She has also been active in playing solo shows, with her band (Cam Outlaw/Chris Ash), and DJing in the Brooklyn music scene.
In this interview spotlight, we speak with Aria about her new project, influences, the digital music world and more.
Full Q&A with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I’m from New York! I live in Brooklyn now, and make music that is often called alternative R&B. It’s sort of the in between of live and electronic sounds, with a lot of jazz and R&B influence, and a pop sense of writing.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I started singing when I was young mostly because I loved it. At some point, adults around me started to notice that I had an affinity for it, so they created situations for me to explore it more. My grandma used to take me to church to sing, my mom gave me that extra push I needed to get through my first audition, and my band teacher in high school created a singing role in the school’s jazz band for me. Lew Soloff of Blood Sweat and Tears saw me sing in one of our concerts and reached out to encourage me to continue more seriously. I was already planning to do that, and had accepted an offer to study jazz at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.
At this point, I’m still motivated by my love for singing and music, but it now includes my love for creating, as well. Making something that can touch others is a whole new level of satisfaction for me. So, that’s a big part of my motivation these days.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
I released my debut EP, “Growth” a couple of months ago. I don’t think I set out to accomplish anything specific for this release. It felt really experimental and exploratory. I worked solely with producer Cam Outlaw, and it was a lot of us feeling one another out musically, even though we had played together many times before. This was a totally new venture for us.
Moving forward, I think we’re trying to hone in on a more specific sound, and it feels like that’s happening really organically. We’ve started working on our next release, which is set to come out this fall, and it already sounds like we’re building off of what’s come before. I’m really excited to hear the finished product.
Do you face challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? How has technology helped you (assuming it helps)?
I think the digital age is great for independent artists! You can do so much more on your own than ever before, and I think the industry is really shifting towards that. That being said, having so much freedom is a big responsibility, and a challenge in itself to stay focused.
Where can we connect with you online and discover more music?
Anything else before we sign off?
Yes! As I mentioned earlier, I released my debut EP only a few months ago. I’ve also recorded a visual album for it, which should be coming out next month! So be on the look out for “Growth ((the visual album))”!