LA based Electro Pop duo with classical music roots. Hailey J., the singer, has an opera background and Jay Phoenix, the producer, is a concert pianist and composer. In addition to creating their own songs, they also write and produce for other artists. New single AZALEA out now.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born in a suburb of Los Angeles. I went to college in San Francisco and lived in New York City, as well. Now I’m back in the LA area.
How did you and Jay meet?
We were both in full 1950s outfits the first time we met, which is kind of funny; we were doing extra work on a period tv show called Masters of Sex. We hung out on set that day, and bonded over our mutual background in classical music, as well as our appreciation for electronic music. That was about five years ago. We’ve worked together often throughout the years, but we created our first official project, JAY II (Jay the Second), about a year ago.
Tell us about your new song/video Azalea, is this about someone you know?
Though we usually have an emotion/vibe we want to evoke when we start a song, we tend to begin with the music first and see what story develops from there. AZALEA was born from a simple 808 pattern with house drums. The darkness of the sample inspired us to name the track after a beautiful, but poisonous flower – the azalea. The lyrics are somewhat seductive, and our video follows suit. It was shot by one of my favorite photographers/videographers, Solomon Augusteyn. His work is sensual, but elegant. We think he did a great job at depicting the song’s words. AZALEA is not based off of any one person, but we probably have all acted a bit like Azalea at some point!
Who are some of the other artists you write for?
I recently wrote with the LA based rapper NEAKS, and am singing the hook on an upcoming song with him. I also wrote and sang on a song for the EDM artist FNGRNLS, who has an album coming out on November 22nd. In addition, I’ve collaborated this past year with DJ/producer Goshfather, singer/songwriter Haley Dreis, producer Lennon Leppert, rock singer Nolan Neal, and more. It’s fun working with people in different music genres.
Hailey, tell us about your time in San Francisco:
I went to college at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Once I adjusted to the move, I loved it. Such a gorgeous city with beautiful architecture and amazing restaurants. In addition to studying classical singing, I started modeling while I lived there. I first heard about Dark Beauty through someone I met at a fashion show in SF.
You also have your own Podcast ‘The Last Night of my Twenties’, do you feel this was a form of personal therapy for you?
In a way it is. When I do an episode, it sometimes forces me to reflect on topics I might have forgotten or buried emotionally. I started it because it seemed like a good way to show my voice as a person, and to connect with people through storytelling. Of course, music, photography and other art forms tell stories, too, but the podcast felt like a direct way to break down the barriers we sometimes put up between each other.
I’m going to continue writing and singing with other artists; the studio is my favorite place to be. Jay Phoenix and I are working on a large body of songs that we can submit for TV and film placements, and also songs that we can pitch to other musicians. Look out for more JAY II tracks, as well as my collaborations under the name Hailey J.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
Dark Beauty is graceful, yet emotional. It holds an appreciation for the things that make us unique. These may be the qualities that are objectively beautiful, but they could also be our rough edges.