Behind The Record With JAE5 And Lojay

The latest attempt to put together a compelling synopsis of love, what it means to be in love, and all that comes with it is the collaborative project ‘Loveless’ by Grammy-winning producer JAE5 and Nigerian hitmaker Lojay. Divided into four sonic capsules, ‘Loveless’ fills the gap of lack of soulfulness within the Amapiano music genre.

The musical spark, if you may, between JAE5 and Lojay has been undeniable since the first day they met. Fuelled by organic artistic chemistry and mutual respect, ‘Loveless’ superbly demonstrates JAE5’s producing mastermind and Lojay’s lyrical magic, which translates his emotional intelligence into loved-up sonnets you can’t help but dance to wherever you are.

Noctis speaks to JAE5 and Lojay to celebrate the release day of ‘Loveless.’ However, its existence is only possible with their first single, ‘I Wish,’ featuring the talented Libianca, who took over the world with her mega-hit ‘People.’ JAE5 talks about the first time he met Lojay: “The first time I met Lojay was in my studio, we had a session locked in. Lojay came with a cold; he thought his voice was off/crusty, but within that first session, we made 2/3 songs. That was the start of the project; the day we met, we started making the project.”

Lojay confirms: “Yeah, we had a session in Jae’s studio in West. It didn’t take long for us to know we clicked. I was sick that day, but we still made about 3/4 ideas.”

By the time they collaborated on ‘I Wish,’ the magic was already there; no warming up was necessary. JAE5 says: “When we worked on ‘I Wish,’ the creative spark was already there from when we first met. Lojay and I were in a place where we understood each other musically.” Lojay agrees: “‘I Wish’ definitely further solidified our desire to do a collaborative project.”

JAE5 was already a fan of Libianca’s captivating vocals from working on ‘People,’ a track that has absolutely masmerized people worldwide with over 580 million Spotify streams. He shares: “Luckily, I got to work on Libianca’s single ‘People.’ While working on that record, I grew to love her voice, so when we made ‘I Wish,’ I literally thought her voice would be the perfect addition to the song. I also wanted a woman’s perspective on the song topic.”

From ‘I Wish,’ both JAE5 and Lojay talk about the organic move to keep working together without needing to have THE conversation; Lojaty says: “That came naturally as we kept working on more music. I can’t say when exactly, but it happened very organically.” JAE5 elaborates: So what happened was, we had linked up maybe 3 or 4 times and had made around 7 songs, but we couldn’t work out what we wanted to do with them. It was either he could take some for his album, and I take some for myself, or we could come together, condense the songs, and drop a 4/5 song EP. Since we did all these songs in a short period of time, we didn’t want them to feel too dated, so yeah, it just made sense to drop them together as an EP.”

Mutual respect is one of the keys to a healthy working relationship in any space. JAE5 right away lists what he admires about Lojay: “I admire Lojay’s pen game; in terms of how he writes songs and puts together melodies, I think he’s a genius. He’s extremely good at writing about the topic of Love; he’s definitely a lover man,” and he responses with: “Jae’s a true musician, and he’s always trying to get the best out of each record. More than anything, I really love how open-minded he is when creating, it really makes working with him a seamless experience.”

Centered around love, Lojay shares the driving force behind the theme of ‘Loveless’: “That was a joint decision, to be honest. As the project came to life, we made the decision to keep it cohesive lyrically and sonically.”

But what does it mean to be in love? A question nobody has the perfect answer for but can only speak from personal experience, JAE5 answers: “To be there for each other, literally actively present in every way for that person.” Lojay also gives his two cents: “I think like is more of an action than a feeling. In my opinion, it’s the act of willingly choosing someone or something over anything or anyone else, sometimes even yourself.”

For the lead track ‘Dishonest,’ JAE5 and Lojay called up on more Amapiano energy from Tyler ICU and Sha Sha. There is more to the story of how they all linked up, JAE5 explains: “Before linking up with either of them I made an attempt at what I thought was a really good Amapiano-influenced track. I can’t remember which South Africans we sent it to, but we sent it to a few for some honest feedback, and they literally said that it wasn’t right – that it wasn’t Amapiano! So, within the Amapiano world, I love what Tyler ICU does in terms of production. We sent it over to him, and he redid the drums and showed me how the base should move. After that, he sent it back to me to work on a bit more; then we met in the middle. From there, we sent it to Sha Sha. I’ve always loved her voice, and she literally just smoked her verse. She turned her verse around in one week and sent it back to me, and that was it. Once I got it all back, I knew I had done the original one wrong, but I didn’t know this until I listened to the feedback and got back all of their bits.”

JAE5’s relationship with music and production goes way back, and with all the deserving success, he stays grounded and driven by pure passion and love for the craft: “I’ve always been into music from a young age; my brothers also loved music so I have always been around it. I feel like living in Ghana had a big impact on my sound and personal influence on music”.

His work ethic was awarded a Grammy Award for ‘Best Producer’ in 2021. Still, as much as it is a token of his talent, he doesn’t let it go to his head: “Truthfully, I didn’t even realise I had won a Grammy until my friend Michael Dappah messaged me congratulating me on the award; that’s when I actually found out. It was exciting at the moment, but after a few days, I pretty much moved on. Producers only get a certificate, so it kind of lost its value in my eyes a bit.”

Already on to the next one, JAE5 works towards consistency rather than anything: “The next milestone will be to break the stop-and-start cycle of putting out music. My milestone is not to achieve anything but to be consistent in dropping music, at least 6 or 7 songs every year consistently for 4 or 5 years. I hate having one song out every year and a half.”

Digging into his early producing days, JAE5 reminisces at all the great, legendary talent he got to learn from: “I learned from a few different people at different stages; I can’t actually say just one person. When I had no teachers, I used to copy Timbaland to a T; when I did get around producers, there was a guy called Paddy who taught me how to use reason. From that stage, I was in with Striver, who used to produce for Nu Brand Flexxx. Then I met Sticky, who used to do Ms Dynamite. So I’ve actually been around a lot of legendary producers on their come-up, and they let me tag along, thankfully, allowing me to learn from them all.”

Across different genres and fandoms, JAE5 made a name for himself for his signature genre-bending style of infusing afrobeat, hip-hop, bashment, and dubstep sounds into his work. His name has been credited with some of the biggest hits that we all know and love, with 4UK Top 10 singles and 10 UK Top 40s. To name a few, JAE5 is the mastermind behind JHus’ 2017 platinum-selling debut album, ‘Common Sense,’ and his Number 1 Gold second album, ‘Big Conspiracy.’

In 2021, JAE5 finally shared his highly anticipated debut single, ‘Dimension,’ featuring Skepta and Rema. He followed up with ‘Propeller,’ featuring Dave and BNXN. Collaborating with artists is his second nature. JAE5 shares more about what goes on in the studio during these sessions: “It goes differently every single time. Firstly, I ask them what they feel they are missing, what they are looking for, and why me. Sometimes they have a reason, but sometimes it’s literally just the A&R that put it in, but I just pick their brains to gauge the tempo, vibe and see where they are musically. I try not to assume based on what they normally make as artists because sometimes they do want to actually switch it up.”

In this oversaturated state of the music industry, JAE5 advises young aspiring producers to lay low and rely on their work and network; he urges: “Work, work, work! Release music. Work with everyone that is close to you and spread outwards; wait for that big song, for that big cut, from that big artist.”

‘Loveless’ is out now, and you will find JAE5 cooking up the next big hit: “I will celebrate the release of the EP by going studio and making more music,” whereas Lojay will be on a club hunt to hear the fruits of their work out in a flash: “I’m definitely going to be outside in the clubs in Lagos, listening to ‘Dishonest’ on repeat.”

“More music,” says JAE5 about what he has in store for us, with more Lojay energy-fuelled tunes coming your way soon as well: “I’m currently working on my album, and it’s genuinely one of the most interesting bodies of work I’ve ever put together. It’s out in summer, and I am itching to share it with my fans cause they deserve it so much.”

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Words: Karolina Kramplova