New York City-based songwriter STOLAR, who Village Voice described as a “poly-genre multi-instrumentalist” and his music as “a contempo brew of soulful pop-rock, unveiling a style and craftsmanship that earned him comparisons to Darryl Hall, Bruno Mars, and… Adele,” is launching an ambitious campaign called “Raw Emotions” that kicks off this month and runs a full year. STOLAR will be writing for SCP throughout these 12 months, expanding and elaborating on the songs he releases during this project.
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Sean Ritchie: Let’s kick it off with your hometown of NYC. What really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the city?
Jay Stolar: That’s a great question. I think the people is a huge part of what makes NY unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. Not only is it a lot of people, but it’s a lot of different kinds of people. There’s a drive and an energy here that I’ve never felt anything like it, and I’ve gone a lot of places to play music. I think I love NY more now than I ever have. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s this place that’s highly overpopulated, super chaotic and nobody [cares], but it’s super comfortable place that feels like home and a place I want to keep going back to. It doesn’t make any sense to me. But, some of my favorite things that I’ve created on the music side came from NY. I feel really proud to live here and be a New Yorker. That’s an awesome thing to feel.
If you’ve never been here and you have to see one thing, I’d tell someone to first read about the history of the West and East Villages. The West Village was this haven for music and art. The East Village was pretty messed up. It was very dangerous. I would then just tell them to walk from the west side to the east side right through the villages. I know that’s more than one place, but it’s something that you could do in an hour or two. You can really experience the way history has touched those places.
SR: That sounds amazing. Now, what was your first, real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to eventually create your own and pursue it as a career?
JS: I took piano lessons when I was four and I hated it. That’s probably my first bad exposure to music. I was just obsessed and listened to a ton of Michael Jackson. My parents played a lot of R&B and pop music when I was a kid – really little. When I was in third grade I was writing songs secretly. In fifth grade, I had my first performance singing publically for people. It was the first time I’d ever really felt like me. I’ve been doing it ever since.
In terms of creating my own music, I just need it. I need it to clear out my head to understand what I’m feeling and where I’m at in the world. That’s my personal reason for why I do it so consistently. I also feel like it’s my way of getting to connect to people and serve a purpose. I hope it’s music that can be there and help other people work through emotions, or just as a soundtrack of an experience. There’s a personal reason of it being very fulfilling and it help processes, and then externally, for other people, to help serve a purpose in the world.
SR: That’s the same thing with myself and SCP. It’s a way to clear my head and create something for the world to interact with. You just set forth on your “Raw Emotions” project, releasing a slew of songs over the next 12 months, focusing heavily on your emotions. What is your overall vision or goal for this campaign? As you look forward to it, describe your excitement.
JS: I would say there’s two pieces. One is my personal, artistic vision for “Raw Emotions”, which is to challenge myself to be completely real and transparent, as well as create the music that is coming to me and feels the most authentic. Whatever that might be. That’s something that’s super exciting to me, because I’ve never had an opportunity where I can pretty much release anything. The other is, there are no rules here in the “Raw Emotions” project. It’s just about making amazing music and write songs with people that are inspiring. Then recording them, share them with people and share the whole experience.
It’s definitely crazy, because the idea is to release at least two songs every month. It will probably be about 30 songs over the course of the year. Each month will have this emotion that will then allow for further collaborations. For example, we just had a photoshoot for October’s emotion which is “invisible”. We did a photoshoot in Times Square where we captured what it feels like to be invisible. There is just so much opportunity with this project to collaborate with new people and to explore emotions. Hopefully we can provide something that people can connect with. It’s really exciting.
SR: Really cool to hear. Switching into your personal travels, when you do have some downtime and are looking to get away, are you more of a beach guy? Or, active in the center of a city?
JS: I like the beach if I’m going to be totally real. I have a vision for a studio that I want to build called Dinosaur Studios. I could get really into it, but long story short, it would be an open space where the walls where covered with any kind of [musical instrument] you’d possibly need. The vibe would be old-school, 50’s cocktail bar, and hanging from the ceiling would be a triceratops fossil at 40-or-50 percent scale. I don’t know if this would ever happen, especially with the climate of the world, but it would be right on a beach where you could go out and chill at night. I think, for me, the biggest part about living in NY is that when I leave I’m not trying to go somewhere else that’s trying to be NYC. I just want to chill.
SR: I can understand that completely. You need that balance. One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world, but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
JS: I think it’s the core reason that I do what I do. It’s to create music, and a world around it, that can give us some space from the [events] that we’re facing every, single day in possibly one of the most disconnected times I’ve ever experienced. For me, if I can write one song that connects one person with another, or put on a concert that [congregates] a group of that would never be around another person, I’m going to do it. It’s making a statement of this thing is bigger than the sum of all of our thoughts. I love it and I hope this “Raw Emotions” project really achieves that.
SR: Lastly, everyone has a list of places they still have to hit. What are three, either for work or pleasure, that you still have to see?
JS: One is a little heavier. I want to know where my family is from on the boarder of Ukraine and Russia. My family left in the 1920’s during one of the times where they were killing lots of people. They all left and we don’t really know where they are anymore. So, I’d like to go and really know where I’m from. That’s one a little more emotional. I really would love to go to Australia and Fiji, and just see what it’s like on the other side of the world. I’m going to do this really soon, but I just want to go to South America and have that experience. There’s a lot of places. I could keep going.