Unless you live in the Bay Area, chances are you probably haven’t been bumping Jay Stone. He’s a 29-year-old MC from Oakland who’s got a knack for painting vivid portraits of everyday life in the heads of listeners. Flying mostly under the radar, Stone has picked up a bit of buzz in the Bay for his thoughtful lyricism and measured delivery, which work in tandem to produce a sound you shouldn’t be sleeping on. His music isn’t rap — it’s something more nuanced that you can judge for yourself as his vocals ride atop lo-fi instrumentals.
Stone’s songs can best be likened to the jumble of thoughts that run through your head before you go to sleep. These range from nostalgic yearnings to random bits of philosophy to straight-up horror stories. Browsing his Bandcamp is a musical roller coaster that’s just right for fans of all ages. You’ll find childhood anecdotes, tales of sex and smoking, and advice on how to navigate the muddy waters of adulthood (among other obstacles). I was fortunate enough to get to talk to Jay about his roots, his inspirations, and his upcoming record.
JAY STONE INTERVIEW
PETER MAROULIS (HIGHLARK): So what got you into making music initially?
JAY STONE: Well what got me into making music was being a fan of music and always kind of playing around with it a little bit, but I never got serious with it. Then I was just kind of bored one summer and went into wanting to do something with my time, so I started writing lyrics and stuff. It was probably like 2007. Part of my DNA as a musician was the music that was being presented to me when I was real young, before I really chose what type of music to listen to. What I was listening to [then became] embedded into my subconscious, into the rhythm inside of me.
PETER: You’re from the Bay Area, which has produced tons of great artists. How has that had an impact on you?
JAY: I grew up in Oakland — and Richmond, which is 10 minutes away from Oakland. I feel like the music from the Bay Area, the funk music like Sly and the Family Stone, and the jazz music, that type of music is embedded in me. I always categorize it as “good” music because it gives me this good feeling and sounds nice. It’s always just hella reminiscent and kind of just that classic type of sound. A lot of people hear my music and they’re like “Oh man, this sounds like some classic shit.”
PETER: It’s been a couple of years since your last mixtape [Foreign Pedestrians]. When can we expect another project to drop?
JAY: If it’s not at the end of this year, it’ll be at the beginning of 2018. I’ve been working on it since 2015, ever since I finished up Foreign Pedestrians with Monster Rally.
PETER: Sweet! Do you have a name for it yet?
JAY: It’s called Calibration of an Altered Mind.