It’s really rare to be left truly blown away by a live performance so when you are, this is definitely a memory to hold on to. WFA had the pleasure of seeing GeeJay live at the end of 2018 at the Somewhere Soul Sessions and knew from then on that these two were destined for big things. The duo, made of up singer, Gina, and multi-instrumentalist, Jacob, hail from North London and it’s this city vibe which forms the inspirational backdrop for topics explored on the EP.
The City EP is due to be released on 25th April, so it’s only fitting to celebrate this with a launch night to be held at the Servant Jazz Quarters in London. With 3 carefully curated tracks, the pair are forced to get straight to the point as they talk about a host of emotions including the downsides of living in a large city vs overcoming adverse realities in a world where intolerance has been given multiple platforms to thrive. Despite this, GeeJay’s overwhelming defiance and resilience to being knocked down is what draws you in.
Already having support from BBC Radio 1Xtra and the cultural tastemaker that is COLORS, we’re excited to see what the next few years look like for them.
Excited to have you guys on WFA! Talk to us a bit about how GeeJay came together. (And what your musical backgrounds are)
Sooooo... we met at a place called Music and Beans In Harringay, London: it's a cool concept, being half coffee shop, half music school! We were both making coffee and teaching music there, and after a couple of weeks we started to jam together on the piano at the back of the shop!
Jacob: I didn't go to music school or anything like that, but I had saxophone lessons when I was at primary school, and picked up the piano just before I went to secondary school. When I hit college I stopped playing all together, but instead I started to teach myself how to produce beats on Fruity Loops from Youtube!
Gina: My childhood wasn't musical in a technical sense but it was often filled with loud Soul & Disco music blaring around the house. It wasn't until I was around 19 that I decided I actually wanted to follow the path of a vocalist. I attended ICMP for a one year intense vocal course.
Now onto the music, congrats on the upcoming release of your City EP! Why did you feel you needed to release this group of songs together as a cohesive project?
Over the course of the last year whilst we were separately going through crazy living situations, I think that we both separately moved house 4 times during that time-frame! We weren't getting much time to get together and write music, so when we did, our questioning of whether we even want to live and be in a city environment came across in the tracks, and so it made sense to compile them into one project!
In general, how do you create songs together, i.e. is it lyrics first then the music or vice versa?
Gina: I'd say that 95% of our songs start the same way: we sit at the piano, put the iPhone voice recorder on in the background, and then just free play for about half an hour! Then, we wait until the next day to go back and listen to see if there were any ideas that we can play around with, and once we have the chord structure and vocal melody that’s when we start producing and building up the track!
Jacob: Yeah! There are magical moments sometimes doing this: the maddest one for me was 'Direction' from the previous EP 'Thru Channel'. I remember playing the chords and turning to watch Gina, and she just had her eyes closed and was in some other place for 4 minutes man. Literally, the whole track was written in that moment, the only change was that we repeated the line 'I need a little direction' to make the hook. I've still got the audio note on my phone and it's haunting: really wanna put it out one day!
On the title track “City”, Gina opens up by talking about “car fumes and pollution”. Why did you decide to start the EP with that sentiment?
Gina: As a Countryside girl, when first moving to live in a city the smell of pollution was always one of the most stand out differences... despite the many others of course haaa. My parents would mock me when I'd return home and ask if I was smoking drugs as I would take deep breaths and comment on the fresh air sometimes haha! On a more serious note, this topic is obviously really current with the rise of global warming so it only felt right to make a strong introduction with something that I hope people can tune into and relate!
In that same track, Gina sings about earning money to travel the world: what city, that either of you have visited, left the biggest impact on you?
Jacob: For me, the city that left the biggest impact on me was Delhi in India. I weren't even there for very long but I just remember that despite the extent of poverty, people seemed to generally be quite happy. I feel there's a lot that we can learn from developing countries.
The second track: Feeling Blue touches on an experience you both had in London last year and it is defiant in its positivity. What helps you get over rough patches in life (other than creating music)?
Gina: My mind state. I try not to allow myself to remain stuck in the same moment... not just mentally but physically: I don't like sitting still and I have to keep busy n' keep 'Moving On'. If life is always good it would never be great!
Jacob: Interesting one! I'm a funny type of character, so during rough patches in life, I either like things that allow me a bit of mental escapism like cooking, or things that give me complete solitude that force me to deal with whatever's going on!
The EP ends on Oh My which touches on an uncertain future for young people in particular — what prompted the creation of this song?
Gina: Over the recent couple of years there have been some huge historical political changes which I think has left huge uncertainty around the future in particular for the younger generations as we experience huge technological advances and environmental issues. The importance of this song though is to spread a little light onto such heavy topics and remember that despite all of this, it is important to recognise that as the world goes through change, one thing still remains: we are are all going through the same.
We saw you last year at a Somewhere Soul show (shout out to Josh!) and you blew people away. When you’re making music, do you think about the reaction it will have live?
Jacob: Big up Josh each and every time, great guy! And funny to think that you were there before we even knew each other! To be honest with you when I'm making music, I'm fully lost in my own headspace and the thought of playing the song live doesn't enter my head! However, when we're in the final stages of writing a song, that's the point when I start thinking bout how people will react to it, whether that be in a live environment or in a more personal one.
And speaking of live shows, you have an upcoming show at the Servant Jazz Quarters - how are you both feeling about that?
Gina: Can't Wait!!!
Jacob: I'm gassed! It's a really cool venue and a lot of artists I respect have passed through its doors.
Finally, finish this sentence. Success is….
Gina: Learning something new everyday
Jacob: Finding you purpose, and pursuing it.
And there you have it, the two are here to make meaningful music for people to enjoy and think about so be sure to check them out and don’t miss out on their upcoming live show: EP launch!