Exclusive Interview – Jay Kila’s Journey From NYC To Mumbai

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Over the years South Asia has looked up to the West in terms of the influence of movies, music, fashion and lifestyle. It is needless to say that there is a heavy influence of the West in countries here. It is also not unknown that Desis who find themselves away from the motherland always find their way back to it.

One such artist is New York based emcee Jay Kila, who is currently residing in Bombay City, exploring its rich culture. After attending multiple gigs and events, Jay came to know of the massive hip hop scene in the city and has since then collaborated with various artists from Mumbai.

DesiHipHop.com got in touch with Jay to know more about his music, his plans in India and his view of the ever growing South Asian hip hop scene.

Tell our readers a bit about who Jay Kila is. How did your interest in hip hop spark? What’s your music usually about.

Jay Kila is a way of life. He is the guy you can go out and party with till 7 am but then bring home the next day for breakfast and tell your parents “Mom and Dad don’t worry I was just hanging out with Jay, he’s my friend who is a rapper” – and they will smile and nod and say “Great, why don’t you guys go party some more?” (laughs).
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I’m a hip-hop artist from New York City who has been doing music for about 6 years now. I shifted to Mumbai in June and I’m all about positivity and good vibes. My interest in hip-hop started back when I was in high school. I was always into music growing up – at first a lot of alternative rock and stuff (Offspring, Third Eye Blind, Green Day) but then I got really into hip hop in high school – Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem. I never really thought I could do music as YouTube wasn’t around then and making music was more difficult.

In college I got a MacBook for the first time and started writing and recording raps for fun using Garageband. This led to me being more serious about the craft as I wanted to just get good at rapping. So I would practice and send songs to my friends. After graduating I decided I wanted to pursue music as a career. My parents were very excited. My music is usually about drugs and alcohol (Just kidding). It’s actually more about my life experiences, figuring out where I fit in, with some party and feel good tracks thrown in as well.

You came down to India to perform at Kala Ghoda this year. How did this opportunity present itself? 

Super random. I wasn’t planning on coming to India for music but I am always looking for new opportunities to perform. I had met someone in New York who told me about the festival – his company was a sponsor this past year and he had liked my music. He put me in touch with one of the festival organisers who I then submitted my music to. They accepted me and voila. It was really cool to perform there – all of my Indian relatives (shout to Tanil-bhai) came to see me which was nice. We also shot a music video while I was out here and that trip has led to me being here again now.

 

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Your thoughts about the hip hop scene in Mumbai.

The hip hop scene in Mumbai is really cool. That is the main reason I came back – it feels like things are happening here and the scene is growing a lot. What I like especially is the support all the artists have for each other – that’s a trait I’ve noticed helps scenes grow and artists succeed. I lived in Atlanta for a year and it was very similar there. It’s also happening right now in Florida back in the US. In terms of gigs I really like the shows at the venues I’ve been to so far – Antisocial, Brewbot – even the small venues have pretty good sound systems and cool lighting. City life is hectic and people stare at me a lot, but you know it’s really very similar to life in NYC – just hotter, a bit more crowded, and much louder.

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Do you have any expectations from the rising hip hop scene in South Asia? Where do you feel more at home – here or back in the States?

I don’t know if I have any expectations personally but I feel like the scene here has tons of potential and could reach a global level. I know India is more connected right now with the UK and Canada scenes a bit so it feels like the US is just one step away. The level of talent here is super high – not just with rappers and artists but with videographers, sound engineers – on all levels. People back home have no idea of the stuff going on in Mumbai – the variety of hip hop styles and just how many people are passionate about this music. It surprised me when I first got here and continues to make me believe there is a lot of opportunity for growth.

So, I still feel more at home back in the states haha (though I haven’t been back in a while now) – but I’m definitely getting used to things here. I just need to improve my Hindi skills a little bit!

What’s in store for future? Message for our readers.

Lots in store for the future. I have some collaborations coming up and then I am releasing the video for my new single “Silumaasi” on November 2nd for which I am super excited. It’s a song about my aunt and is based on true events. Message for the readers…hmmmm…don’t do drugs kids :)

Check out Jay Kila’s latest release “Silumaasi” here –