This week’s Bear World Playlist Featured Artist is Jay Long!
Featured Artist: Jay Long
Current City: Los Angeles
Hometown: Chicago (Skokie), Illinois
Bear World Magazine: What can you tell us about “Love Loud” and “Same”?
Jay Long: “Love Loud” was inspired out of me because of a current relationship. It has been a rocky road trying to date in the gay world, but I have recently gotten slowly more and more serious with a boy, and the way he loves me is Loud. He reminds me daily that I am cute, we discuss our relationship goals and what we are actively pursuing in healthy ways, and the romance has been building in what feels like a very healthy way, for the first time in my life.
The song is a mirror to the layout of the relationship: Starting with slow quiet doubtful lyrics that blossom into a robust chorus of repetition of “Can you bring it to me now? Can you make your Love Loud?” The bridge is based off of real-life conversations he and I have had regarding the process of our blossoming relationship. In the time of Pride, I wish Loud Love for all my queer family, as it has been inspiring me very much.
“Same” is a bit more conversational, full of messages to remind us why our feelings, our doubts, and our emotions in life are very valid. The scariest of things happen in dark places of the mind, but that does not mean they are to just be ignored. Good comes with understanding the bad, and then understanding that working with them both “yin and yang” together allow us to create peace and harmony in our lives.
The lyrics of this one are quite powerful in my opinion. I struggle with bi-polarity and depressive/anxious thoughts in my life, and this song poured out of me like a message my deeper self needed to send my shallow self. “Same” as the title is to suggest that regardless of good and bad in life, it maintains the same: we go on.
BWM: Who are your musical heroes, and would you say their influence can be heard on your most recent songs?
JL: My musical past is littered with lots of diversity within genre, and it gets tricky for me to pinpoint singularities in my inspirations. I grew up as a classical violinist, found my voice in vocal jazz and musical theatre, and grew up listening to hip hop and R&B within Chicago. I am also influenced by the DJ House music that can be found within the bustling “underground” dance and party community of LA.
All of these things slowly creep into different aspects of my music. My piano loops become reminiscent of house, my beats are suggested by hip hop, my lyrics come from storytelling involved in musical theatre, and my melodies are inspired by the violin. A bit of a modge-podge of genres and influences. I look up very much to folks who use their music to have discussions within their communities: Chance the Rapper, Tupac, Sam Smith, Adele, Lizzo, and artists who both use their music for joy and contemplation play a big part in my own soundscapes and musings.
BWM: Lyrics: Do they come easily to you, do you rewrite them a lot, do you have regular sources for inspiration…?
JL: Lyrics are very important to me. I find them to be pretty central to everything within my music. Within classical music history and the opera, lyrics and music would often emulate each other and use the concept of “text-painting,” where the lyric would quite literally match what is occurring in the music (the singer discusses upwards motion as the music ascends, the singer discusses sharpness as the music is short and punchy, etc.).
This has always been an interest to me, and I try to weave the feeling and mood of the music into what is being said. I hope that over time, my music will become more timeless and people can discover these connectivities themselves. I never know what is going to inspire a song out of me, whether it be melody, beat, topic, lyrics… but once it starts, most all the parts are happening simultaneously.
BWM: You’re part of the LGBTQ arts/events group Queer Moment. Can you talk a little about what that is?
JL: Queer Moment is an eclectic collective of queer individuals who are centered around creating a safe and supportive platform for queer artists, entrepreneurs, and performers to succeed. We noticed that within the queer nightlife scene, there is a lot of opportunity to expand on organization and community. We want to help provide this and put friendly faces in places of working with talent and businesses. I found, as a music artist, I was often working with organizations in which I did not know who was profiting off of me, or who I would be working with.
I live off of a mantra: “Don’t infiltrate the scene, create one!” I want to help bring more leadership roles and positions within the bustling community of queer entertainment, and the best way I can think to do that is through leading by example. I hope to become a kind and just leader within my community, and invite as many people as I can into it with me. I’m blessed to have a big group of friends who work towards similar goals (many of us met through the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles) and aren’t afraid to jump in and help wherever they can.
BWM: Looks like people can catch you performing at Venice Pride in Los Angeles this weekend. What can we expect from this or any other upcoming shows?
JL: Pride season is upon us! I’ve been working tirelessly to help organize and bring artists to Venice as well as performing myself. As the son of a preacher, I inevitably find myself preaching a bit inside of my own performances. I find music to be a powerful tool towards self-reflection and self-love, and try to bring as much of this as I can to my performances. Follow me on my socials, or keep in touch with Queer Moment on Instagram to see what’s coming up next.
BWM: When it comes to relationships and dating, what is a must-have to make it work for you, and what’s a total red flag?
JL: I think of relationships like this: Four categories of stimulation 1) Physical 2) Emotional 3) Spiritual 4) Intellectual. No one person has to provide all four, but if the balance of them is strong, I will stick around. I am a bit of a “sapiosexual” person, and become drawn to people by their essence and their minds before their parts and physical appearance. People who are keyed into themselves in multiple facets entice me.
As far as red flags? A lack of self-awareness is the biggest turn off. I hate to “formulate” romance, but I think about these four categories a lot. If I encounter someone who does not stimulate my brain, senses, spirit, or body, then we have to keep it honest. It probably will not work.
BWM: What do you like to do when no one’s watching?
JL: As a music school teacher, nightlife enthusiast, and stage performer, there is very little time I get to myself. I enjoy playing videogames and pretending I’m a choreographer in the mirror. All in all, I tend to like people watching.