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Jeremy Jay: Resculpting Pop's Landscape

Los Angeles may quickly be becoming the post-post-punk capital of the States, with bands like No Age, Ariel Pink, and Health claiming its turf. But amidst Angel Town’s noisy clatter, Jeremy Jay, a young, romantic singer/songwriter, has emerged with quietly tempered indie-pop gems more suited to Laurel Canyon than Echo Park. Citing Buddy Holly and Richie Valens as major influences, Jay’s debut on Calvin Johnson’s K Records showcases his dual passions for ’50s doo-wop and French chansons, which coalesce into lo-fi, reverb-saturated pop. But don’t call it merely “retro,” and definitely throw away the predictable Paw Tracks comparisons.

Despite his youthful infatuation with the classic pop legends, Jay’s musical upbringing veers a bit from that of other 20-something indie sensations. “My mom and her entire family is from Switzerland,” Jay offers. “She liked Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Françoise Hardy, and a lot of other French music that’s really had an impact on me.” Those internationally iconic pop inspirations are strewn all over Jay’s recently released Airwalker and We Were There EPs. The song “Slow Dance,” for example, is comprised of Disintegration-esque guitar lines, creepy organs sneaking through layers of melody, and Jay’s eerily charming monotone voice chanting the word “romance.” “Gallop” and “Love Everlasting” take a more traditional K form–they’re like lost, lovesick singles from The Make-Up.

Yet the romantic sensibilities don’t stop there. “I threw a show called Winter Wonder Slow Dance at [L.A. venue] The Smell in December,” remembers an excited Jay. “I bought a snow machine, served free hot chocolate, and the girls put up paper snowflakes everywhere–we made it snow right outside The Smell and [founder] Jim Smith was so down!” Theme parties seem to be a running, um, theme in Jay’s day-to-day. “I’m throwing a croquet party and picnic at Griffith Park this weekend–I’ve invited nearly everyone I know,” he laughs. “My last gathering was a Clue party!”

With his debut long-player, A Place Where We Could Go, set for release next month, Jay has already begun work for his next yet-to-be-titled release. “I just get inspired and songs just happen,” Jay says frankly. “I usually see something, like a daydream, and [write about] that–it’s very visual.” If his parties, singles, and forthcoming full-length are any indication of what’s in store for this romantic revolutionary, expect nothing short of charming.

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