What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in music, and what was your journey to becoming a musician or band like?
Well, I came from a family of musicians on my father’s side, that were kind of a big thing back in my home town of Nassau, Bahamas. They had a group called “The Johnson Brothers” which included my father and my uncles. So I knew it came from somewhere but it wasn’t until a friend of my mother whose name is Charon Penn who also made music put the mic in my hand and told me to try a freestyle to an instrumental while recording. I
believe this was around the age of maybe 8,9 or 10 but he played it back for me and I fell in love with it ever since. So I would always do freestyles here and there in school and would practice writing rhymes from time to time and recording myself in my phone during my younger years, but it wasn’t until I graduated high school that I said, hey I really want to pursue this but coming from The Bahamas that isn’t career choice that ppl would commonly find success in fact rarely because we have no real music industry/lane to follow so it wasn’t easy but I kept going and pushing because I want and hope to be that lane for
others one day.
Who are some of the musicians or musical acts that have had the most significant impact on your work and your sound?
Wow this is a good question because I have so many artist that I’ve gain inspiration from because I study so Many genres of music but to name a few of my most influential artist I’ll start with Bob Marley, Sizzla, Buju Banton & Richie Spice (reggae), Vybez Kartel, Alkaline & Dexta Daps (dancehall), 50cent, Jadakiss, T.I & Ludacris (rap), Migos, Lil Baby, Lil Durk (hip-hop), Usher & Chris Brown (RnB), but overall I would have to say the artist that influenced me the most would be Young Thug because he showed me that music is truly art and you shouldn’t be afraid to sound different and that you don’t box yourself into one genre.
Can you describe the progression of your musical style and what sets it apart from others in the industry?
I’d like to call my musical style universal, passionate, uplifting, energetic but most importantly true to myself and what sets me apart is because I always try to be different in my flows, the beats I used and the notes I try to hit in my songs also I try to make sure my songs don’t sound repetitive.
Could you elaborate on the backstory and significance of your artist name?
When I first started making music, I actually used a few names which were j-lyric, bea$tmode Jo and J.O. But to go back to when I said I try to stay true to myself I just
came up with the decision to sound out the first letter of my name and to spell out my full middle. I just felt it was the real me but also, I think it’s catchy. So that’s why I officially went by the name of ‘Jay Oneil”.
How do you typically approach the songwriting process, and what role does collaboration play in your work?
I feel as though the way I create my songs is that I go either off of the mood I’m in or the vibe of the instrumental when creating a new song, I like to become one with the beat to ensure a smooth flow of the song. Collaboration I can honestly say plays a small role in my work because I’ve been focusing, building and perfecting my own craft to insure I can be able to stand on my own work of art/portfolio, but all in all I love making genuine connections with fellow artist when making music it isn’t really about the money for me it’s about helping each other to reach higher levels and go further in our careers I Always like to say I look at the bigger picture of things and what we can build a legacy together off of the art we create.
Can you share with us a particularly meaningful or personal song in your discography, and what inspired it?
This is definitely a personal one for me because I have a song named “Long Live Runks” for my cousin Reynard “Runks” Henfield that passed away in January 30th, 2020 a day I try not to remember but he died due to a long battle with diabetes that came with a journey of complications, but the reason that songs mean so much to me is because he meant a lot to me as a person, friend and family. We were the same age and practically grew up together from birth. That was truly my best friend. I have a line in the song that says “You couldn’t follow your dreams so you were praying for mines”, in which that meant a lot to me and major part of why I still do this because he knew how much I loved music and he wanted nothing more than for me to be as big as we always imagined from, we were kids he was truly my number one support. I even have “Long Live Runks” tatted on my face because I wanted anyone who I come across to know that he is still with me and will forever be with me and as long as I live his name will live on.
Could you discuss the evolution of your live shows and performances, and what you aim to convey through them?
Well, it’s actually kinda funny but people don’t believe me when I say that I don’t get nervous when performing I don’t know If it was because I grew up always involved in
plays or some kind of stage activity when I was younger, but I always said to myself this is what you wanna do and performing isa part of it so that always helped me to get rid of jitters, I guess. When I would perform I like to go based off the event because like I may have previously stated I make music in many different genres so I always try to appeal to my crowd and make sure they enjoy my songs the same way I enjoy performing them and
ultimately I would hope in turn that grasp them stay tuned and always more.
Can you recall any memorable or unique experiences you have had while touring or performing?
Yeah, there was a time when I was in Freeport, Grand Bahama which is another island in The Bahamas and I was asked to perform for the first time there when I guess I was just making my way up as an upcoming artist locally. And the way the crowd reacted too songs I pretty sure they never even heard because they barely even knew who I was, but the reaction was amazing when I was done people wanted to take pictures, follow me on my social apps as well as music platforms and in those moments is when I knew This was for me and also give me a nudge that this is my purpose in life, because where I’m from
Bahamians are one of the toughest crowds if you are already popular. That was definitely a defining moment in my music career.
Could you share any exciting new projects or
collaborations you have in the works?
Yes, I’m currently working on a secret EP called “6ix nights” that I wanna drop sometime in December, with a few Canadian artists. I’m in a new environment so I thought it would only make sense to get back in my creative bag and start fresh with new experiences.