Jessi Malay: Ready For Action

The world may not be ready for Jessi Malay! In this crazy world of music, it seems things are changing everyday. Evolution if you will. Jessi Malay seems to be a proud product of this changing climate. She is a supreme hybrid of sex appeal, vocal talent, and the aggression of a bad ass. This sassy 20-year-old seems poised to be something truly remarkable. In a time where female artists are lacking control, aggression, and passion among other things, this one brings everything to the table and lays it out for us to see. Malay is a veteran performer, who began dancing at the age of two. By nine years old, she was mesmerizing crowds singing and dancing in Sydney Australia at the 2000 Olympic Games. By the age of fourteen, she was already signed to a major label and had a hit song on the airwaves with her all female group No Secrets. Not a bad resume for a young performer who has yet to put out a solo record!Born of Latino, Asian, and Caucasian descent, this Los Angeles beauty brings a refreshing female perspective to music. If her single “Booty Bangs” is any indication of what’s to come, she threatens to be louder and bolder than any female artist we have seen in a very long time. Jessi will let you know in a heartbeat that she is in the driver’s seat feverishly pushing down on the gas. Yes indeed, it seems Ms. Malay has lots to say. And if you listen close enough, she’ll tell you all you need to Alternatives: For those that don’t know you, Who is Jessi Malay?Jessi Malay: Jessi Malay is a new artist, coming out on Reprise [Records]. And, how can I describe it? I kind of fit right in that middle ground with my music. My music is right in between a Hip-Hop feel and a pop feel. That middle ground that I kind of feel has been missing for awhile. I’m just a passionate young performer. I’m 20 years old, and my passion is live stage performance. That’s what I’m all about really. So a lot of my music is geared for live performance.AHHA: I’m curious just looking at you, what’s your ethnic background?Jessi: I’m a lot of things. I’m a big mutt. My mom is Filipino and Spanish. My dad is white. And then there’s a little Brazilian mixed in there. AHHA: In the climate of music today, what do you think makes you stand out. Or what is going to make you stand out? Jessi: Lyrically…like my lyrics are a lot bolder than what the girls my age are talking about..really. Some of um…how do I say this without sounding insulting? Some of the older girls [giggles] like Fergie and you know – whomever they’re coming out with –some lyrics that are a little more out there, but the girls my age really aren’t talking about stuff like I am. And musically, it’s just right in that middle ground. Like I said, it’s right in between pop and Hip-Hop. AHHA: Was there a reason you went a more aggressive route with your lyrics, or was that something that just kind of happened?Jessi: That just happened, because that’s how my personality is. [laughs] It just naturally developed that way. Even if I didn’t write [lyrics], I had a lot of input creatively and those are the kind of lyrics that I’m naturally drawn to.AHHA: What kind of things can we expect from your album? What can we expect to hear? Jessi: I’ve got dance records and club records. My first couple of singles that are going to come out are dance records. They’re for the club. They’re for, like I said, live stage performance ‘cause that’s my strongest point. And the first single is called “Booty Bangs” actually. I’m not necessarily talking about my booty or whatever, but it’s a song that…you know I’m saying things that every girl wants to say and every guy wants to hear but may not be bold enough to. After my song, maybe I’ll inspire some to say it. But it’s more a song just talking about like….here I am…I’m the sh*t and I’m ok with it.AHHA: Even in your presence in this interview, you seem pretty aggressive in the way you talk and in your personality. Have you felt like that was something that was missing for women in music so you felt like you needed to go in that lane or was that something that just happened?Jessi: I didn’t start out like, “That is what’s missing from music and that is what I want to fulfill in the music industry today.” Honestly it’s just naturally the direction I went in.AHHA: Growing up listening to music, do you wish that some of the female artists you grew up listening to were more aggressive in their delivery and in what they spoke about? Do you feel like they were a little too laid back?Jessi : See I loved people like Missy. Artists like J-Lo and Britney Spears weren’t really talking about anything like that. I would think that it would be cool to see artists like them say some of the things that Missy is saying. And my lyrics are not totally Missy, but they have more of that playful, bold, like “whoa she just said that” kind of element to them.AHHA: I guess this leads into my next question. Who are some of the people that you grew up listening to. Or who you grew up idolizing?Jessi: I started loving straight up pop dance girls. My mom listened to a lot of like Donna Summer and Madonna and Mariah Carey and Janet. Janet was the first artist I can really remember wanting to be. I wanted to be her. I loved Janet. Then when I got a little older, I started getting into a little more Hip-Hop. I grew up when west coast Hip-Hop was really coming up. You know, Tupac and Dre and whatever, and I remember like a really big turning point for me was when I saw Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” video ‘cause you know it was that middle ground between pop and Hip-Hop.AHHA: Who are some people that you want to work with on the album or just in general? People who you think are just awesome.Jessi: I would love to do a duet ballad with Robin Thicke. His voice just melts me. I would love to do a duet with him. For some reason I think it could be fun to do something with Kelis. I think she’s kind of in that zone I was talking about. She’s really sassy, she says what she wants and she doesn’t give a – I actually have a song in mind I would love to do with her. It’s called “Check Please.”AHHA: How would you say your life has changed since getting signed and actively pursuing your dream?Jessi: Well I’ve actually been doing this for a while. I was in a girl group prior to this when I was 14-17 called No Secrets. We were signed to Jive, but this solo experience – my experience at Warner – has been completely different. When I was in the group, I had nothing to do with the business end of things. I had no clue really what I was doing. I just showed up, danced, sang and that was it. My life has changed drastically the last three years, because I’ve really taken the reigns on my own career, and I’ve had a lot of influence and direction. I’ve had a lot of business input really.AHHA: Considering your past experience at Jive, when started your career as a solo artist, was control something that was very important to you or once again was it something that just happened?Jessi: Yes, because I was really unhappy with the music [Jive] made us do. We started off as a cool little group. We did the pop/R&B thing. Then they completely were like, “NO you’re doing Aaron Carter bubble gum pop music, and you’re going to be ten years old for the rest of your life.” And we just hated it, hated it, hated it. So I was like I’m not going to do that again. And fortunately, I got to work with really cool people at Warner and the production team that brought me in. They were really really cool, and they listened to me and gave my opinions some value.AHHA: If you could speak to someone who is a little further behind in their career than you are…what is some advice you would give them about the pitfalls they could fall into or that you have run into thus far?Jessi: It’s just so hard to say. The music industry right now is so bad. I don’t even want to say what I want to say.AHHA: Speak it. Preach!Jessi: It’s so hard right now. I’m in the best position I could possibly be in. I’m given opportunities that people just are not given anymore in this state that the music industry is in and I’m struggling. It’s hard work. But my “real answer” would be: keep your passion strong. You better be doing it because you love it, because you’re going to work. You’re going to work really hard. The money is not like it used to be. So you better be doing it for the passion of music.AHHA: So what is a typical day like for Jessi Malay?Jessi: I really don’t have a typical day ever. I never have the same day ever. I’ll wake up – not when I’m traveling, but when I’m home – I’ll try to wake up and work out a little bit, do a little jog or something to get me up and going. When I was recording I would be in the studio for the whole rest of the day, or I’ll go to the label and do these kinds of things [interviews]. Or I’ll go to the label and host “Mic Sessions,” which is a show that [Warner] is coming out with. Or dance studio rehearsals. It all depends. I never have a normal day ever. And my day – it doesn’t always feel like business. but it’s business. From the time I wake up until three or however late I stay up.AHHA: With all the craziness that goes on each day, is there something each day you do that you cherish that is just for you? Or is there something you like to do each day that is just for you?Jessi: There’s not something in particular I like to do but, I hold family and friends very valuable, and I always make sure I stay close to them and don’t lose sight of how important they are. I mean it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I always make some time during the day for somebody that’s not business-related ‘cause it can get messy.AHHA: Do you have a prized possession? Something you always have to have with you? Something you always travel with that you feel you would go crazy without?Jessi: It sounds kind of shallow, but my cell phone because that’s my connection to the people I love. [laughs] It’s cheesy, but seriously, also I have a lot of pictures on [my phone] that I need to have always.AHHA: Do you get to go out…non-work related? Do you get to go out to clubs?Jessi: Oh Yes!AHHA: So you enjoy doing that I take it.Jessi: Oh yes! That’s why I do the kind of music I do.AHHA: When was the last time you went to a club and just hung out with your girls?Jessi: I get to do it often. I mean I work hard, but I get to do it often. In LA, it’s a little harder ‘cause all the clubs close at two which sucks, but at least once a week I’ll go out with my girls.AHHA: You’re an attractive girl, so I’m assuming a lot of guys hit on you when you walk into the clubs or different places that you go to. So what is the lamest come on line a guy has ever said to you?Jessi: I don’t have like one lame comment. But every guy says, “I’m sorry, I never do this, I mean I never do this, but you’re so beautiful. I just got to meet you. What’s your number? Blah blah blah.” Every guy says “I never do this.” If they are that comfortable doing it, don’t you think they’ve done it a couple times?AHHA: So what type of guys are you into? What attracts you? What gets your attention?Jessi: I like guys that – number one, cockiness turns me off. Oh my God, you can be the cutest, hottest, whatever but if you have that element of cockiness ehhhh. I like confident guys that don’t feel they have to be loud and cocky to get their confidence across. Also a sense of humor is good too. But I like guys that can be confident even in silence.[long silence]AHHA: Hmm. With that being said…is there anyone special now?Jessi: I’m really focusing on my career right now.AHHA: At the beginning of this interview I asked you right now who Jessi Malay is. Ten years from now if someone asked you the same question….what do you think you’d say? What do you hope to have to say in ten years?Jessi: As a person, I hope I’m pretty much the same – maybe a little smarter a little wiser. More outspoken maybe? But I like the person I am right now. Career-wise hopefully it will speak for itself. I’ll have multiple number one hit albums and world tours under my belt and movies and the whole bit. And I don’t want to sound [like] Miss America, but I hope I can do something with music that will matter. Ugh this sounds so Miss America! [laughs] I hope I can do something with my music the way Bono’s music matters on that level. I hope that I can do something like that…but in my own way.