Keep­ing it real

Laid­back Bri­tish Asian R&B singer Jay Sean talks about cel­e­brat­ing life, deal­ing with fame and ... err, writ­ing songs in toi­lets.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - by FIOnA HO

Most Malaysians prob­a­bly know Jay sean as the guy sing­ing “Down, down, down, down, down,” on his catchy R&B sin­gle, Down.

But even as Bieber-fever and Ga­gadom takes over the world, the Lon­don­born, In­dian-bred singer has made a no­table as­cent on the Us charts.

Down, his Us-de­but sin­gle from his 2009 al­bum All Or Noth­ing, hit No.1 on the Bill­board Hot 100 Chart last year while his next sin­gle, Do You Re­mem­ber reached the top 10.

“I’m liv­ing ev­ery moment of my suc­cess,” said sean, who could not have picked a more fit­ting name for his up­com­ing al­bum, Freeze Time.

“Right now I’m all for cel­e­brat­ing life, cher­ish­ing ev­ery moment and en­joy­ing the good times. that’s why I named my new al­bum Freeze Time,” he added dur­ing an in­ter­view last week at Dou­ble­tree Ho­tel by Hil­ton in Kuala Lumpur.

“I don’t take my­self too se­ri­ously. I’m al­ways silly, it’s stupid.”

the dash­ing 29-year-old was here to per­form at the Show­down Of Cham­pi­ons – A Night Of Aces at the Malawati sta­dium in shah Alam, last Fri­day. the so­journ marked his fourth visit to Malaysia.

Freeze Time, which is his fourth in­ter­na­tional stu­dio al­bum, is due for a Nov 2 re­lease.

“the al­bum is all about di­ver­sity. It’s pop, it’s R&B, it has club songs and sexy songs ...,” he said with a smile. “It’s def­i­nitely moved on from All Or Noth­ing. Pro­gres­sion is in­evitable. I’ve learned more about what res­onates with the au­di­ence and I’ve ma­tured as a singer and a song­writer too.”

Freeze Time took only five months to com­plete and most of it was writ­ten in the toi­let, ap­par­ently ...

“I write in the toi­let all the time. that’s where in­spi­ra­tion hits,” ex­plained the laid­back star, who wrote ev­ery track on the al­bum. “It’s ei­ther that or in bed. Be­cause there is sim­ply noth­ing else to do, no dis­trac­tions.

“I’ve writ­ten a lot about my own life in my past al­bums. Now I get in­spi­ra­tion from other peo­ple’s lives too. Like my friends or peo­ple I’ve had con­ver­sa­tions with.”

His favourite tracks on Freeze Time are Break Ya Back, Pa­tience and Lul­laby.

“ Break Ya Back is a re­ally cool song with a club vibe and it’s some­thing I’ve never done be­fore. Pa­tience is a bal­lad while Lul­laby is me re­ally sing­ing in a very dif­fer­ent way.”

But while sean has been known for pop­u­lar­is­ing Bri­tish Asian R&B-fu­sion sounds in his ear­lier works, he does not in­tend to in­cor­po­rate those sounds into his fu­ture al­bums.

“I don’t need to do that. It’s like if you’re a Chi­nese rapper, peo­ple ex­pect you to do Chi­nese rap all the time,” he elab­o­rated. “It doesn’t feel or­ganic, it feels like a gim­mick and I want to break out of the ‘In­dian’ stereo­type.

“For me, it’s all about mak­ing great songs now. In Amer­ica, mu­sic comes first and you don’t hear age, race or gen­der in mu­sic,” he added.

But make no mis­take, he has not for­got­ten his roots. “My roots are very im­por­tant to me. It’s who I am. If I were a tree, my roots would be my an­ces­tors and my cul­ture. A tree can’t stand strong with­out that.”

the singer has not let fame get to his head ei­ther. If any­thing, the suc­cess of All Or Noth­ing only pushed him to work harder to stay on top. “I hope for the bet­ter. I’ve learned that suc­cess does not hap­pen overnight. It takes a long time and a cer­tain for­mula to get it right. You gotta keep ap­ply­ing that for­mula.”

2012 (It Ain’t The End) fea­tur­ing rapper/singer Nicki Mi­naj, is the first sin­gle off his new al­bum. Freeze Time also fea­tures R&B/hip hop stars Lil Wayne and Pit­bull.

He will not be work­ing with pop princess Ri­hanna any­time soon, though. sean dis­pels their ru­moured col­lab­o­ra­tion with a laugh: “I would love to work with her, but it’s not true. she’s awe­some.”

He added dandily: “My ul­ti­mate col­lab­o­ra­tion dream would be with Jay-Z and Bey­once. those two are top of my wish­list.”

sean, who was a med­i­cal stu­dent be­fore he em­barked on his dream of be­com­ing a singer, hopes to be­come a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man in dif­fer­ent ven­tures over the next five years. “I want to have my own pro­duc­tion house and also be a suc­cess­ful artiste.” n Jay Sean’s FreezeTime is re­leased by Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Malaysia next month.

Cel­e­brat­ing life: ‘I don’t take my­self too se­ri­ously,’ says Jay Sean.

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