Publication: Clash Print and Online
Photography: Laura McCluskey
Pinning down the compelling East London native…
Jay Prince is finding a moment of quiet between juggling his never-ending tour schedule and the promotion of his latest mixtape. A rare spot of sun floods through the excessively grandiose hotel windows, illuminating the ‘Dream Club’ slogan on his self-designed hoody. The 23-year-old East London native is a self-confessed dreamer: “Everything I do is basically describing a progression up to the point I’m at now,” he reflects. “A lot of changes have come about, positive changes.”
In the five years since he began uploading self-produced tracks from his student digs, a gradual succession of Bandcamp breakthroughs and Soundcloud successes saw Prince go from Topman assistant to blog-favourite to bona fide venue filler. “It’s one thing seeing numbers online,” he admits, “but then you always ask yourself whether that’s going to translate in real life. I still get surprised when I go to New York and sell out a show, and then go to Paris and it’s the same.” He’s been headlining shows across the globe, including an extensive tour of Asia, as well as support slots for Jess Glynne, Chance The Rapper and Mick Jenkins, and recently playing Coachella with Mura Masa.
Seduced by the storytelling nature of soul and hip-hop, Jay Prince’s music is personable to the point where it feels conversational. “I feel like the stuff I grew up listening to was always about telling stories,” he says. “It was about people giving you an honest insight into who they are as people. I’m a human being first, everything I write is real life.”
His new mixtape, ‘Late Summers’, is the journal of a vacation last year that allowed him to come up for air, and take some much-needed space for reflection. “This one specifically is based on a lot of thoughts and things that stuck with me from my summer last year,” he reveals. “A lot of it is new things people won’t have heard me speak on before, because they’re things I’ve only experienced for the first time.”
Jay is an immensely talented young man on an amorphous, unpredictable journey that is as personal as it is musical. He feels it’s his creative duty to bring us along for the ride. Where the idea of an ‘overnight success’ implies that you’ve slept through the journey, Jay Prince is head and shoulders out of the sunroof, capturing, savouring and sharing every minute.