“This is like a divine intervention and I’m trying to make sense of it.”
– Jayanti

Part Two of our interview with Rotterdam based singer/songwriter Jayanti. If you missed Part One on Wednesday go here.

GFM: How has your music been received in Holland?

Jayanti: The way that my music has been received in Holland is something that is very confusing to me. I’m very active on You Tube and when I look at my stats for almost every video (even though I have a very big family here and friends watching my videos) 50%-80% of my views come from North America. That’s the confusing part. I don’t know what it is but I feel that my music and my personality work better outside my own country. I think people here in Holland like what I do (I think). I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s not happening for me here.

I went to L.A. last year… my musical network is a lot better in the States and in L.A. than here, which is weird. I do know a lot of people here. I have been meeting a lot of musicians here in Holland at concerts, as well as other musicians who find out about me on the Internet and on You Tube. That’s how it happened last year, I got invited to come to L.A. It just all came together, they heard me sing the song “Say Yes” last year on You Tube and liked what I did. The funny thing is I already had musician friends in L.A. that I met in Amsterdam. Suddenly we’re all there and they all know each other. I had some other musician friends from Atlanta and they know the Memphis guys too… everybody knows each other and everybody knows me and I’m here which is weird. So again, it’s that feeling of being on an island. I’m here and I know all these people but they’re not here.

That’s a very interesting question about how people perceive me here in Holland. How’s my music received? It’s not really received. Every time someone in Holland (because Holland is extremely small) books me it will be the same thing “Why have I never heard of you?”, they don’t understand it. It’s a mystery. I can’t put my finger on it but also because of this I don’t really want to stay here. So when I look at my stats, when I look at my network and my friends, that makes me really want to look elsewhere. When I was in L.A. I felt at home with the musicians there.

Well, for one, I’ve always wanted to leave Holland, even as a kid. I wrote my first song about wanting to leave I was 7. I went to the States when I was 6 to visit my grandparents and family there (my paternal side of the family all moved to the States in the 60’s and 70’s). So I went there and attended Summer School and I was inventing songs in the back seat on our way to Disney World and stuff like that. People really responded to that in the States while here people didn’t really see it as a thing. In the States people would say: “ Are you making up songs? Did you know that’s writing songs?” Ok. That’s why I started writing in English as well because that’s where it started.

I’ve always been a melodramatic kid… I was looking outside and it was dark, I saw a plane it looked like a star but it’s moving so you know it’s a plane. I wrote a song “Starlight” about wanting to dive into the stars and leave and go back. So I’ve always wanted to leave to make a long story short. I really don’t feel at home here. Just the way things have been going here, I don’t think this is the place for me to be doing music because it’s not happening. When they hear me they like it… but I think it’s too small. I’m going through a hard time right now trying to figure out how to make (a move to the States) that happen, sort of hit rock bottom, but people say sometimes you have to hit rock bottom for things to open up.

GFM: What’s next?

Jayanti: That’s a very difficult question for me. I just lost my apartment, moved back in with my mother and this is all in the pursuit of music. I dropped out of University. I was doing Psychology and dropped out for music. I decided to do the secretary jobs, and I have been doing that for a couple of years now. There are temp jobs and I’m not getting any gigs here and so something has to give and I lost my apartment a couple of weeks ago.

So when you ask me “What’s next?” it’s kind of hard because I can’t afford anything because I’m paying for everything myself. “Girl From Mars” I paid for the studio time, I’m doing everything myself. If you had asked me this question a month ago I would have said I’m making an EP and I’m moving to L.A. right now I’m going through a very hard time trying to figure out how I’m going to do it. I would love to get more music out because I’m always writing and I have a lot of songs that I have been working on with the different producers. I would love to get those songs out so that people can hear them. I have bits and pieces on You Tube where we’re just rehearsing the songs.

I would absolutely love to record them in a proper studio but I don’t know. I still want to move to L.A. so in that way it’s good that I lost my apartment so I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I would love to release an EP or something it’s hard without any sponsors, without anyone to back me up except a bunch of incredibly talented friends who have done everything for free like my videos and my pictures. I’m just gonna keep on grindin’ as they’d say. It’s gonna be a little slow. I’m hoping for a day when I can just do music and pay my rent, that would be awesome.

I do still believe (that may be another part of why people think I’m odd) that even when something like this happens and I lose my apartment, but I must say the day that I lost my apartment the first thing I thought was “Oh good.” So now that’s out of the way because I don’t want to stay here… it hurts and sometimes I feel inadequate “Ok I live with my mom now”. I do feel like this is what’s supposed to happen. My friends here and my friends in L.A. also say the same thing “Hey J that’s good… so when we have a gig for you, you can just come. There’s nothing keeping you there.” I think all in all it’s a good thing. This is like a divine intervention and I’m trying to make sense of it.

GFM: Describe an element in nature that your sound lines up with.
Jayanti: Absolutely water. Water. That was an easy question. I adore water, anything having to do with water I love. I love the ocean, I love showers, I love baths, I love the sound of rain absolutely water. Water is clear… a lot of people describe my voice as crystal clear.

I really admire when singers have that edge, you know like Etta James or Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse I don’t have that at all. Like I don’t have it, it’s not there at all there’s no edge, it’s just clear. That’s what it is… so in that way water: because it’s clear, it’s very fluid. A lot of people have told me I have a very melodic way of singing. Water is cleansing, music is very cleansing for me. Whenever I sing(I keep a lot of my thoughts to myself) I like to talk a lot but I keep my deepest feelings inside and that is why I really need to produce sound because if I don’t… like right now I’m sick and I haven’t been able to sing in a week and it hurts. I can just feel that my emotions want to come out and I do that by singing.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.