Reuben Jay music­al odys­sey, deeply rooted in his Jamaic­an upbring­ing, is a test­a­ment to the trans­form­at­ive power of pas­sion and per­sever­ance. From the echoes of choir har­mon­ies in his youth, fueled by the inspir­a­tion of icon­ic fig­ures like Sanc­hez and Ghost, to the soul­ful cadences of Anita Baker and James Ingram that stirred his artist­ic soul, Jay’s jour­ney has been a melod­ic tapestry woven with diverse influ­ences. Embra­cing the rhythmic poetry of his early fas­cin­a­tion with verse, he honed his song­writ­ing craft, find­ing res­on­ance between the cadences of poetry and the lyr­ic­al tapestry of music. Now, as he unveils his latest EP, “Now is The Time,” a cul­min­a­tion of years of music­al evol­u­tion and col­lab­or­a­tion with pro­du­cers Vin­niPee and Con­scious Pro­duc­tions at BLESST Stu­di­os in Birm­ing­ham, Jay offers a glimpse into his cre­at­ive pro­cess and the vibrant mosa­ic of sounds that define his artistry. With tracks like “Anoth­er Day Anoth­er Dol­lar” bear­ing wit­ness to his fusion of old-school nos­tal­gia with con­tem­por­ary flair, Jay emerges as a beacon of innov­a­tion in a dynam­ic music­al land­scape. As he nav­ig­ates between cul­tur­al cur­rents, seam­lessly blend­ing reg­gae roots with eclect­ic influ­ences, Jay’s aspir­a­tions for his music extend bey­ond bor­ders, envi­sion­ing a tapestry of unity and uplift­ment for his audi­ence. With plans for a tour on the hori­zon, Reuben Jay stands poised to cap­tiv­ate audi­ences with his soul-stir­ring melod­ies, prov­ing that indeed, “Now Is The Time” for his music to res­on­ate with hearts world­wide.

Listen to ‘Now is The Time’ Here

Can you tell us about your music­al jour­ney and how your Jamaic­an roots influ­ence your sound?

I think the birth of the jour­ney began while at high school. There was some­thing about group singing that really pulled me in so I star­ted singing in the choir at Sunday school. I was heav­ily influ­enced by Sanc­hez at the time, he was one of the top sing­ers around — him and an artist by the name of Ghost. So when the time came I’d choose either of their songs to sing. I’d try to attend events where Sanc­hez per­formed such as BBQ’s and the KC May­fair Bazaars, even if it meant get­ting scol­ded by my grand­par­ents.
So I really, really have to acknow­ledge the birth of that jour­ney. Over time I star­ted to do my own thing, try­ing to find my own voice and style; I was listen­ing to the radio and listen­ing to the pop­u­lar artists at the time, the Anita Bakers, James Ingram, Fred­die Jack­son, I mean, these artists really had an influ­ence on me. I tried to emu­late and sing like them, I was going by the name ‘Jam­mer Roy­al’ at the time.
As I got older, I start ven­tur­ing out to music stu­di­os. My cous­in Hor­ace Aitken­good, a good friend Paul Wright, and myself were aspir­ing to become song­writers. The three of us would set chal­lenges on who could write the best song, that went on until we had ourselves com­pil­a­tions of songs. It was a chal­len­ging and won­der­ful exper­i­ence to go with­in your­self and bring out this tal­ent that laid there dormant and artic­u­late it and bring it forth.
Me and my broth­er Gene Patchy a.k.a Patchy Dam­age would go to a stu­dio called ‘Jammy’s Stu­dio’. We vis­ited all around Record Fact­ory at the time, Arrows. Often times we’d get thrown off the bus because we did­n’t have no bus fare, but we still got there. Back then me and Paul did man­age to do a record­ing there. An artist by the name of Colin Roach heard us singing and he said, these two sound good, he then voiced us on the track called the ‘Gang­sta Rhythm’.
For some strange reas­on I’d wake up even singing or hum­ming. I don’t know if the ancest­ors tapped into my wishes or desires for me to get these melod­ies, but it’s a won­der­ful feel­ing and many of those made it into my music over a dec­ade later.
But — that was­n’t the end res­ult to get a record­ing. We wanted to be rooted and con­crete as a part of the industry. So I’m quite sure my good friend is now an engin­eer and I’m still on the pur­suit to become a whole soul artist, Ruben J.

How did your early fas­cin­a­tion with poetry shape your approach to song­writ­ing?

It was through my last stages of primary school before I went to high school, the influ­ences of my teach­ers Miss Mullins, Miss Cod­ling (both my Eng­lish teach­ers).
One day Miss Cod­ling came to class and she said us stu­dents would be doing some­thing dif­fer­ent today, none of us knew what she had in mind, but she clearly illus­trated to us that we’re gonna do poetry.
“You all are going to write poetries and I want 20 poetries from all of you”. Wow — and thus the begin­ning of my intrigue and fas­cin­a­tion with poetry.
I really see it now as the inspir­a­tion for my cre­ativ­ity in song­writ­ing.

Hav­ing my Eng­lish teach­ers was a bless­ing in dis­guise. I really give thanks for hav­ing them. After look­ing into what I did as a young­ster in writ­ing my poetries, all 20 of them, I can­’t recall any at this par­tic­u­lar moment because I was so young at the time but, relat­ing that to how I listen to music and its struc­tures, I real­ised I was­n’t far off from writ­ing it. It was so clev­er of me to com­pare the two, lyr­ics and writ­ing poetr, and I must say it has res­ul­ted in me writ­ing some bril­liant songs to where I even sur­prised myself. So early poetry was really the cata­lyst for my song­writ­ing skills.

What inspired the cre­ation of your EP “Now is The Time,” and what themes or mes­sages do you explore in it?

Well, after leav­ing Jamaica and not com­plet­ing what I wanted to do in terms of an EP or an album, I could­n’t have sat down and not pur­sued it here in Eng­land; tak­ing the exper­i­ences that I needed and com­pil­ing it here, look­ing for the right sounds, even the right musi­cians and look­ing how to go about con­struct­ing the pro­gram in terms of an album and an EP.
I needed to find a pro­du­cer who could help move my music for­ward as I had a lot of tunes in my head that needed to come out. I found Vin­niPee, (Vin­cent Pryce) and Con­scious Pro­duc­tions (Wayne McK­en­zie) and yeah, we had to go ahead and make it work because they had the ingredi­ents that I was look­ing for music­ally. I had my ideas and these guys brought them to life in the stu­dio.

Could you walk us through your cre­at­ive pro­cess when craft­ing songs for the EP?

Well, to be hon­est, my cre­at­ive pro­cess really starts with a good night’s rest. It’s as if my spir­itu­al being, when it leaves the body, it goes where music is, and for some strange reas­on, I come back wak­ing up singing of some form of melody that I heard while I was asleep. It’s strange, but that’s the first found­a­tion of me get­ting my music.
So, I come back with some melod­ies, yeah, and I hum them and I keep hum­ming them — don’t know where the words com­ing from, but even­tu­ally, some scen­ario might pop up, some­thing might be said and then, voila! Eureka! The words finally come for the melody that I some­how came back with from a sleep. I then go down to the BLESST Stu­di­os and check Vin­nie and Wayne with a melody or bass line and these guys work their magic and cre­ate some rhythms that inspire me to write the lyr­ics.
I really find it inspir­ing work­ing with the guys at BLESST, they are ser­i­ously cre­at­ive and dis­cip­lined in their craft, which involve them work­ing col­lab­or­at­ively my music­al ideas to get to the end goal. For the EP, it was decided that we needed two up-tempo tracks and two slower ones. We believe that these tracks would grab the listen­ing ear of the audi­ence.

What was it like col­lab­or­at­ing with Vin­nipee and Con­scious Pro­duc­tions at BLESST Stu­di­os in Birm­ing­ham?

I think find­ing the pro­du­cers at BLESST Stu­di­os was the right ingredi­ent for me as an artist going for­ward because thus far, even though we might not agree on cer­tain things, we take the time out to listen to each oth­er and put our egos aside for the bene­fi­cial shad­ow of the product. It just gives me great pleas­ure to know that I found a team that is will­ing to work for the bet­ter­ment of bring­ing my true dimen­sions out as an artist. The encour­age­ment is always there.
The push to go for­ward is always there. ‘Now is the time’ is a a rep­lica of that because it was a really tedi­ous and long pro­cess des­pite it only being four tracks, but yeah like a sac­ri­fice had to be made and time inves­ted, so here we are now fully diges­ted — now is the time.

Can you share any anec­dotes or mem­or­able moments from the record­ing ses­sions of the EP?

So, one of the mem­or­able moments was hav­ing this jazzy bass­line in my head, I kept hum­ming it over and over and over again, till one day I just said, I need to call Amlak Tafari. I called and we arranged the date to go to the stu­dio.
Me and Amlak and Vin­nie were in the stu­dio and I told him what I had in my head and hear­ing him pluck the bass­line on his gui­tar the exact way I had it in my head — each idea I had, defined — to know that all these ideas came out of my head were really, really some­thing to behold. We worked tire­lessly through the night until we got this track because we wanted it to be to be a standout track, you know, some­thing dif­fer­ent with a jazzy bass line; I still wanted to keep that reg­gae feel with the bass line.
And I’m like, I did this thing and Vinny did this thing, with each idea that I had along the way, and to see it come to fruition was really one of the high­lights of the EP, hence the res­ult of Anoth­er Dol­lar. Really, really nice track. Yes, man.

How would you describe the evol­u­tion of your music­al style from your early influ­ences to the sound rep­res­en­ted in “Now is The Time”?

Well, with the com­par­is­on of the earli­er years I real­ised that I only used to just write in one genre and that was reg­gae music. Now I’m branch­ing out to work with artists of dif­fer­ent genres as I evolve. I real­ised I don’t even listen to music as much as I did back then.
It’s strange being a sing­er and not listen­ing to music that much because the thing is, I don’t want anoth­er artist’s melody to be stuck in my sub­con­scious where in I ven­ture off with that melody and think it’s mine. So that’s one of the things that helped with my trans­form­a­tion from then to now — I real­ised that I don’t want to be stuck in one genre. Yeah, I’m from Jamaica and we are renowned for reg­gae music but some­times we have to mix it up man. Noth­ing wrong with it, it’s all music at the end of the day.

Do you have a favor­ite track from the EP, and if so, what makes it spe­cial to you?

‘Anoth­er Day Anoth­er Dol­lar’, it’s a very catchy track — and to where I think this track can go, it can even put Rubens here in the fra­tern­ity (finally), because no one is doing music like this.
I really don’t hear any­thing like it out there, I mean, it has a bit of old school, it have a bit of new school. I’ll have to give Anoth­er Dol­lar the props on the edge so far because I can relate being a work­ing man and know­ing that the bills have to be paid, and food have to be eaten, and youth them have to be taken care of, and most people are work­ing nine to five. So even then I can relate as well on the same level. It’s not all about the glor­i­fic­a­tion of money and what it can do for you, it’s just a neces­sity in that aspect. And with the bass­line being jazzy and not the reg­u­lar authen­t­ic one drop bass line, that kind of make it stand out to be the tune that it is and that’s why I would have give it the edge. It’s been one of the favour­ites on the EP.

As an artist based in the UK with Jamaic­an her­it­age, how do you nav­ig­ate between dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al influ­ences in your music?

I don’t try to write in any par­tic­u­lar genre, it’s just that Reg­gae comes nat­ur­ally. I listen to oth­er genres to under­stand them and see how I can blend them togeth­er, the pro­du­cers at Blesst Stu­di­os are really cre­at­ive that way and there is a plan to release some non reg­gae tracks too.

What are your hopes and aspir­a­tions for the recep­tion of “Now is The Time,” and what’s next for Reuben Jay in terms of future pro­jects or per­form­ances?

Well I hope that when the masses listen to ‘Now Is The Time’, they feel the same excite­ment and joy I felt record­ing these tracks. I hope these tracks will be uplift­ing and encour­aging to all.
The plan is to get on the road. There is a small tour in the plan­ning stages right now so just watch this space for Reuben Jay cause the Time Is Now.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.