All photos courtesy of Dev Ciné
KUTX Artist of the Month: Jay Wile
By Aaron “Fresh” Knight
Within Austin’s fast-growing urban music scene, it can be easy to overlook an artist. Yet sometimes one jumps right out at you. For months I heard the rumblings about Jay Wile, a soothing R&B singer from San Antonio. At first, Wile pulls you in with a smooth voice similar to Frank Ocean, but then his heartfelt lyrics captivate you and have you longing for love. Bouncing around between San Antonio, Austin, and Los Angeles, Wile has captivated listeners and helped push his R&B further to the forefront of the Austin music scene, a scene that can struggle at times to shine a light on urban music. Wile’s newest release, Better Times, is a short, yet sweet and smooth set of songs that give everything the R&B of today and yesteryear has to offer.
I spoke briefly with Jay about his new release, staying motivated as the world spirals into chaos, his inspirations, and more.
Fresh: With everything going on in the world, how are you staying motivated to keep creating?
Jay: During this time, I’m challenging myself to find balance. I’m learning to lean into the moments of creativity and listen to my body when it needs rest. For the project, I made the majority of Better Times in March and April. Leading up to the release, this past month I took time off to read and reset. I’m always looking for a healthy balance so that I can create freely while also giving that energy the space to form.
Fresh: Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind Better Times?
Jay: When quarantine began, I was making 2 or 3 beat ideas a day at one point. Although everything was crazy, making music is what kept me cool. What originally started as practice on production and arranging blossomed into a folder full of ideas. I ended up collaborating with some of my friends to polish the records and added a few more.
When I began writing, I knew immediately the project would be a time capsule for me. With Covid 19 really shaking up all of my original plans for the year, this project was really a moment for me to document how I was feeling and what I was hearing during this time.
Fresh: Starting out in the San Antonio music scene, what would you say is the main difference between there and working as a musician in Austin?
Jay: The communities of San Antonio and here are very similar. I’ve met a lot of my friends and connections over the past couple of years that interact heavily in both scenes. Getting out of my hometown and into a new city of fresh faces and experiences probably helped with my growth during these last couple years. But ultimately, bridging relationships in both SA and Austin has transformed my idea of what I consider Home to be – The communities we are a part of and the people we care about are our home.
Fresh: I know you’ve worked with some big names in the music industry as far as songwriting. Do you have plans to, or are you currently collaborating with other artists, either locally or beyond?
Jay: I’ve had some really amazing experiences in some of my pre-covid travel. Some of my journeys to Toronto or NY are really interesting stories that I wouldn’t even believe were true. But I really enjoy the network of creatives I’ve joined here locally. Some of my favorite producers are my friends. I can be everywhere with my sound sometimes and I’m picky about what I like, but I know the people I work with are patient and they know how to fit the right pieces into the art. Stefon Osae and JaRon Marshall (aka Almond Milk – producers of “Real Bad”) have been a duo I immediately connected with since I’ve moved here. We’ve made so many tracks together at this point. Billy Blunt (who produced “Anyway”) is a newer connection I made this year, we only have one track, “Anyway”, off of the EP, but he’s one of my favorite instrumentalists in the city. And I’ve got a lot more collaborations with a few local artists coming very soon!