Multi-talented JAEL is a one-man shop hailing from The Hague, Netherlands. His passion for music began at an early young age, growing up in a household filled with a plethora of different genres which are present in his music. Making his official debut in 2018, JAEL came on the scene as an artist with the release of his EP Time.
JAEL has always been showcasing his skills as a DJ, instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer in these different genres all over the world. It’s not often that you come across an artist with the skills such as his, but when you do, it’s a vastly beautiful sighting. More recently, JAEL shared his EP, Unworthy, which served as the precursor to his debut album. Half As Much is an 11-track effort that boasts features from Alex Isley and Jayla Darden amongst others. It’s arguably some of JAEL’s best work to date, spawning singles like “Red Dots” and “W/ Me” to name a few.
In our latest interview, we got to talk to JAEL about remaining positive amid the pandemic, the release of his eagerly-awaited new project, and connecting with his fans during this time. Read the full conversation below.
It’s been a bit over a year since the global pandemic, how have you managed to stay positive and creative this past year?
I had a bit of a breakdown for a good three weeks between March and April 2020, but one day I realized that I couldn’t sit still. So I thought of all the time that I had to finally create and finish the album, during the lockdown. When I was touring every weekend pre-COVID, sometimes I was away from home and the studio for two months. I mean, it is amazing but it was very hard for me to stay focused on the project.
All the countries, cities, and places that I have seen gave me a lot of inspiration. I have enjoyed it so much, but to get back home from touring and just work for two or three days on the album and knowing five days later you’ll start touring again was hard. All the tension and nerves crept up on me every day. Full of excitement or I was exhausted and needed two days to recover from traveling. So that’s why I see this pandemic as a blessing and a curse. No shows, but lots of time to create in peace.
What’s your favourite part of the process when it comes to creating new music?
I really love the beginning and the end. The birth of a project is so fresh and full of unknown options. I see it as a journey to the right door in the Matrix, you know the infinite hall of green doors? I really try to find the right door. I’d open a dozen doors and collect inspiration from these rooms and get back to find the final door to unlock the matrix. Haha, corny but I feel like that.
You named your debut album Half As Much, how did you come up with the name and what is the meaning behind it?
The album is about lovers who are not yet ready to open up and commit to each other. They want to love each other but they want to be alone to have some time for themselves too. They continue the thing that they have but are loving each other “Half As Much” for both of their needs. I came up with this theme out of my own experiences, friends, films, and what I have seen in life.
Being in the music industry for quite a few years, what made now the perfect time to release this body of work?
I have been working on music and toured a lot as a producer and DJ, and I thought now is the right time to finally showcase to the world that I also love to sing and play my own instruments. With only one EP, Time, I made the big step to go and create an album. I felt super nervous from the first day I started working on this project.
How did you go about picking the features and production throughout the album?
I really love all of the features on this project, and they have been a big inspiration to me for quite a hot minute! I wasn’t already friends with all of them, I just literally “Hit the DM” with the demos that I potentially made for them and they responded right away. I was so hyped about that. I really thought, “ah, I know it’s a long shot, let’s just try and see.” It was so amazing to work with them all.
The process of creating the songs with the features were amazing! So much fun and so inspiring. The level of talent and soul that they all have is super unique. I’m genuinely grateful to have worked with them.
With most in-person shows cancelled, how have you been connecting with your fans during this time?
I have been posting a lot of content such as cover videos of me singing and playing my instruments. I also went live on Instagram and have been streaming frequently on Twitch to showcase some of my upcoming and exclusive music. It has been really different from the real shows but somehow it became a regular thing. Usually you get the energy from the crowd during the show and in the beginning, I had a weird feeling with performing/playing music for a virtual crowd, because there was no energy that is channelling back to you. After a while it came back to you in a different way.
With ‘Half As Much’ in the rearview, where do you see yourself going afterward sonically?
The next big step is my own live show. As I’m working on the show right now, I’m waiting for the venues to open up and finally showcase the album plus more, live, for all of you. I cannot wait to be with all of you, in one venue, and sing.
Even though there’s a lot going on in the world we live in, keep your head up, and never give up on your dreams and goals. Literally, everything is possible. You just have to go for it. Give it your all and embrace your losses to win another day. I wanted to pass that message to people who are having a hard time in this pandemic. Change your mindset and the outcome will be positive. Love is the key!
If you enjoyed our interview with JAEL, check out songstress Lexi Alon!