John Jaylien Wesley may not be a household name yet, but he is certainly responsible for writing hit records for other artists that millions of listeners have gravitated toward.
Akon’s 2008 single, "Beautiful.” Jaylien wrote and produced it.
The Will.i.am and Britney Spears collaboration, “Scream & Shout.” Jaylien’s helped pen it.
Chris Brown’s “4 Seconds.” Jaylien produced that too.
In addition to those achievements, his diverse skill set has provided him the opportunity to collaborate with artists ranging from country star Brad Paisley to rap icon Snoop Dogg and every artist and style in between.
However, after nearly a decade behind songs for numerous A-Listers, Jaylien branched out on his own recently with his Summer’s Over EP.
The 7-track collection of music, which includes the singles “Hotel Costes” and “We F**k,” shows how he is a multi-talented individual and that undoubtedly sets him apart from his contemporaries. As a producer, writer, and performer, Jaylien not only knows what a hit record sounds like, but how to make one every step of the way.
In this exclusive interview with AllHipHop.com, Jaylien discusses, among other things, how he evolved into the artist he is today, the benefits of writing for others, and having Jay Z and Beyonce in the crowd at his very first live performance.
Check it out!
AllHipHop: Have you been pleased with the reception that Summer’s Over has been getting so far?
Jaylien: The reception has been great, so many different people from so many different countries have been reaching out and I respond to everybody. It’s dope hearing how [people] found it and what their favorite song is and what they want to see a video to. I have conversations with everybody if time permits. It has been a dope ride.
Do you get a sense that different parts of the world or different areas respond to certain songs differently than others?
Generally, everybody likes the same songs. I hear either “Summer’s Over,” “Hotel Costes,” or “3 A.M.” Then “We F**k” of course. I wanted to make music that was non-territorial, so that was the goal.
As a new artist in 2016, what do you think the most difficult obstacle to overcome is?
There’s an obstacle that I’m still trying to overcome, and that’s getting “the machine” to see the vision right now rather than when the world sees the vision and then they come late to the party. As a new artist, it’s hard to break through and get people to move and press the green button on you. It’s easy for fans to hear the music and love it and appreciate it, but when you need to make some major plays happen and you know the people that can make it happen and they know you personally, but they still don’t because they want you to grow a little bit more... it’s the most difficult part to get over. They’re scared to take a chance, but that’s fine because it makes you as the artist and your team stronger. I’ll take any challenge that comes my way; we’re tackling them head on.
Who are some of your influences?
I have so many influences for so many different reasons, but I’ll just spotlight a couple of them. I love The Dream because he’s a producer, a songwriter, and an artist. I feel like he’s one of the greatest to do all three. My first ever live show was with The Dream. That was very special to me; he let me open up for him.
What was that experience like?
That was crazy, man. It was my first ever live show performing as an artist. The venue was sold out. Jay Z and Beyonce were there. My mom was there. Kelly Rowland was there. It was really good energy and I felt it.
More influences, I would say Kanye West for sure- for him being a producer and a writer and an artist successfully. Ryan Leslie, I’ve been a fan of him since I was a teenager watching him on YouTube and stuff like that. Frank Ocean to me is super incredible. He’s not slept on at all, so I’m glad people appreciate him the way they should.
When you started out, was the initial goal to become a triple threat?
I’ll take you through the short version [laughs]. The plan for me always, since I was a child, was to be the greatest producer of all-time. If I could be spoken in the same breath as Pharrell, Timbaland, Max Martin, and Dr. Luke, Rodney Jerkins and all the people I looked up to. Then I was happy with that.
I got my first placement at 18. I was content with being a songwriter, but then I needed songwriters to write on my tracks. But I wasn’t a big enough producer for them to take priority on my tracks, so I started writing my stuff. Then I did the “Beautiful” record by Akon and that was one of the first records that I ever wrote and produced.
I was 21 and that song changed my life. Then I was complacent with it, but then was like, “You’re only as big as your last hit” and I got tired of watching a lot of people who I knew I was more talented than, no offense, but I know my skill level.
There were people around me that I knew or was like one degree of separation from that were just rising up to these astronomical levels and they weren’t that talented to me. And every year, I would get more and more frustrated. I’d go to these writing camps for these A-list artists, and think this is my chance to show what I could do, but my songs would never get chosen.
It was always the same people getting picked to write on the albums, and no offense to them, but I’m good too. So as part of my frustration, in 2012, I just started releasing music on my Soundcloud for fun. Then one of my friends (photographer and video director Stephen Garrett) was insisting I was dope, so we shot a video. Then one video led to eight videos. After getting discouraged a few times, I got to a place where I didn’t care if it didn’t have the Frank Ocean effect, or if I didn’t get a co-sign from an A-list celebrity. I’m not gonna stop; no matter how bad the numbers are. I’m good and eventually people will see it, even if they catch on late.
What advantages have writing for other artists given you as a performer?
One advantage I have is that I hear everybody’s stuff before it comes out, so I get an inside look at what’s about to come and then I’m like, “Ohh,I can top that.” The people I work with are all at levels I aspire to be at, so I kind of already know what it’s like to be there. Not personally, but I’m the next man over. I’ve never been “the guy,” but I’ve always been the guy next to “the guy.” I know what a hit-song is; I know what a not hit-song is. I know how to make ringtone music; I know how to make very eclectic music. I’ve worked with a wide-range of artists, from Brad Paisley to T.I., so I know everything between that. Making a song is like breathing to me.
Who is an artist that you haven’t written for or worked with yet that you would like to?
Beyonce. Beyonce! I don’t have to think about it; I don’t have to hesitate. Not if, but when I get a song with Beyonce, I will probably retire from producing and strictly be an artist. As a producer, all I need is a song with Beyonce.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want people to say that Jaylien was part of the greatest force to hit the entertainment industry and he helped so many people and he changed so many lives. He’s incredible and he dressed really well [laughs].