Jay Sean interview

British R&B star is heading back for a live performance at Chi


Anyone with business, friends or family overseas knows how difficult it is to find the right moment for a catch-up over the phone when you’re juggling different time zones. No such problems if you want to chat with
29-year-old Jay Sean, real name Kamaljit Singh Jhooti and the singer of smash-hit single ‘Ride It’. He’s currently based in the US, where his debut single, ‘Down’, featuring Lil Wayne, topped the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first UK urban artist to do so. Even with this feat behind him, he’s more than happy to chat to us at midnight, thank you.

Where are you?
We just finished a 14-hour rehearsal, so I’m pretty tired now. I’m touring with Enrique Iglesias soon, so that was the rehearsal we were just doing. He asked me himself to open for him, and I was like, ‘Cool man.’ You’re not going to say no when Enrique Iglesias asks you to tour with him!

You’ve pretty much cracked America now. How does that feel?
Well, I don’t think anything is impossible. Everything is possible if you believe in it enough. I know it sounds so clichéd and I’ve had people say, ‘You’re never going to do it,’ but I kept it alive, because I don’t care what people say. I love music, and what I used to listen to on my iPod, and still do, is the same people who are now my friends. At times I think: How have I managed to get myself in a position where I’m having a personal relationship with these people? But they’re not always the people you’ve expected or hoped them to be. Definitely. Sometimes you idolise people and when you meet them they turn out to be something very different to what you’d expected. I hope I’m never one of these people. I would hate that. I’ve had people disappoint me and I don’t want to be that guy.

Who disappointed you?
I don’t name and shame.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for British artists to make it in the States?
I think it’s hard for anyone to make it in the States. It’s hard for Norwegian artists, British artists, it’s hard for Americans. Do you have any idea how many people there are undiscovered? There are people out there who can sing better than Whitney Houston and rap better than Eminem and Jay Z, but they’re still selling their mixtapes in Times Square. It’s hard for everyone.

What can we expect from the new album, Freeze Time?
It will still be me, but you’ll hear a lot of newer sounds. Many people are scared to experiment with or use these new sounds that are coming out, but artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson were always using new sounds from those eras, they were current and with the times. Vocally, I’ve been working really hard to up my game and become a better singer. That said, I still keep those things that make people go, ‘Yeah, that’s the Jay Sean sound,’ not the sound of someone who’s been A&Red in a certain direction.

Have you thought about following the LA trend and branching out into fashion or other areas?
Definitely. I haven’t really looked at it, but you do have all these options, and you never know if you’re going to enjoy it until you try it. I might end up with my own label, designing clothes, who knows? I know for sure I’m going to do acting; I’ve been an actor for as long as – actually, longer than – I’ve been a singer. I’ve been writing scripts from a young age.

What about perfume? It seems like you’re nobody if you don’t have a signature smell these days.
I’ve already been thinking about that. But the thing is, do you put out a guys’ fragrance or do you put out a girls’ one? Most of my fans are girls, so you’ve got to think about that. But it wouldn’t be something cheesy like Seansational or anything like that.

Jay Sean performs at Chi on February 24.

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