November 21 2014
Sex symbol and ‘RnB’ artist talks intimately about men, women and why he left his US record label…
ABOUT half-way through this interview, global pop sensation and chart topping singer-songwriter Jay Sean becomes yet more animated, fiery and passionate.
We’ve got onto the subject of what “The Mistress II”, his album which he has just released for free download this week (see below), is really about.
“Actually believe it or not, it’s about a socially very important concept – we are talking about adultery here,” he declared.
At one level it would seem obvious what he means, but Sean, a considerable heartthrob to millions, is very much a family man: devoted husband and doting father. (Sorry, girls.)
That’s just not PR speak, if you saw him as we did at The Singh Project, it’s obvious. And even though there was quite a posse around him (probably more family than anything else), he had eyes really only for his daughter and wife, Thara Natalie, (herself a fellow singer and RnB artist). They married in 2009 and have a daughter not quite a year old.
“What I have tried to do in this (“The Mistress II“), is not be intentionally controversial – but I am being so brutally honest and saying stuff that many will thank me for and (some) women might want to slap me for – but at the same time eventually respect me for.”
It’s not adultery as it might be defined in the dictionary, no. It’s more about the way men look at women, what they feel and how they feel it (heterosexually, that is).
“Women will probably go, you know what – our man doesn’t have the balls to say it to us like that, but you are telling us, explaining to us, you’re giving us an insight into a man’s brain, and how you guys think, and the reason I am able to talk about this is because I am a man,” explained Sean.
His music in “The Mistress II” is very much a return to his ‘RnB’ roots, and it’s obvious from the recent Vimeo release of “Tears in the Ocean”, a track taken from that album, that love, romance and associated activities (winky, wink) are very much at the fore.
This is in many ways classic ‘RnB’ territory, but Sean is quite vehement in the point he is making.
When adultery comes up directly – he was quick to clarify: “I am not saying it’s okay or acceptable.”
“My whole point is that – my take on romance and love is that the notion of marriage is man-made, it’s not God-made.
“There’s a reason why men can carry on procreating up to about 70 years old and a woman stops around 40 when she has the menopause.
“The mother – once she has a baby is meant to take care of it, and the men somehow still have the ability to procreate – is it our fault – that if we are 50 years old and a girl is walking by, we look – I am being real with you,” he said excitedly.
It’s a case of looking, appreciating, recognising the attractiveness of a cake but not actually eating it. He made that very clear.
“I could love a woman to death, die for her – like my wife, never want to hurt her, never want to break up, never want to break her heart, but guess what – that comes from being a good person, like I would never make my brother or mother cry, so why would I want to do that to this woman?
“I will try to give this woman as much of a good life as I can, and love her, but don’t give me a hard time if you ever catch me looking at another girl because, as men, we are going to do that – I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is the truth.”
Men are visual creatures, he said and well…frankly and bluntly, women should get over it. Don’t get jealous, don’t get mad, don’t lose it, don’t whine. It’s life, baby, understand.
“My granddad was the perfect example – 70/80 years old, driving, and I’d be sitting in the car and a woman with big boobs would walk by – and he’s looking at her in the rear view mirror. My grandma never did that, she was never checking out young guys.”
Has he never seen ‘Ummi’ (Meera Syal) in “The Kumars at No.42”?
Joking aside, the serious point for Sean is that men and women are essentially different, that they can never see the same things in the exactly the same way.
“We (Jay and his wife Thara) have discussions about this all the time. I say Thara, ‘if girls don’t scream for me, you would be upset, because I am your husband and as an artist you want those girls to scream for me’, otherwise it means I am not connecting – there’s something wrong there.
“If she got jealous every single time a girl screamed at me, it wouldn’t work, she understands.
“She might see a pretty TV presenter flirt with me, and she’d be like, ‘So you think she’s pretty?’
“‘Yeah of course, she’s beautiful,’ I’d say, but I can say that because my wife is so secure and she doesn’t worry like that.”
So “The Mistress II” has an important message underneath the heat and glow of Sean’s rich, silky, embracing vocals.
“My whole point is that have some general understanding somewhere in there that we (men) are just built differently, and build your foundation on that, not on something man made, where we said, okay, ‘you’re the only man I look at, and you’re going to be the only woman I look at’.”
So the boy from Southall, who was a couple of years into medicine, at Queen Mary’s College in London, before deciding to quit to pursue music, is making another significant break.
In the summer, he left the US label he had so much success with – his debut single, “Down” there topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2009, making him the first artist of South Asian origin to have No.1 US single.
He sold millions with Cash Money Records (CMR) but lately he was increasingly unhappy.
He explained: “I left because I needed to make a return to my musical roots, I felt like I was too far off from where I began. I have had a lot of pop success but I was too far down that road to the point where I didn’t give me fans what they fell in love with the first place.”
He said CMR wanted to continue to make pop records and that too focused mainly at the US. Sean had already worked with the likes of record stablemates, Lil Wayne, Pitbull and Nicki Minaj.
The split was amicable and Sean aims to revive his own label – Kamouflage Entertainment – to produce his own work and others.
“I’ve ventured into management because I feel like I have something that I can offer at least in terms of mentorship to some of these new talents, I can tell my story and share my journey.”
It’s one where he’s not been afraid to make big decisions and strike out on his own.
“The confidence comes from two places – one that I have enormous belief in myself and secondly because my fans have stuck by my all these years and when you have those fans, regardless of how many changes you are taking, how many labels you have left, they say, we are with you, that is enough support.”
He said fatherhood has made him less tolerant on the business side – he won’t entertain you or deal with you if you’re late or not professional – he has a family and responsibilities. He’s a man, not a boy band crooner (any more, if you ever thought that). Respect The Man.
But like many in the business he is confronted by the same brutal fact – people aren’t willing to pay for music.
“There are still ways of making money – publishing – I write all my own stuff and of course, touring, ultimately, they just want your material, they want your music, give them your music and you’ve got fans for life and they will come and see you at shows.”
He hadn’t made firm plans, when he spoke to us a couple of weeks before he departed these shores near the end of this week. He wants to record more and possibly tour.
“I might get back into the studio and create another album and take this one on the road or I might do it simultaneously. I really can’t stay away from the studio.”
One thing is for certain – he isn’t coming back to Britain.
New York is now his home, and he loves it there – not just because he really made it big, but because it offers him a truly global canvas, he believes.
“I definitely found it easier in the US. The brown skin colour in America means you could just be Puerto Rican, Dominican, Italian, Greek, Indian, Mexican – it doesn’t matter, they focus on the product, which is actually how it should be. Here, they make assumptions and there are stereotypes, it’s a bit more difficult.
“I love it there, it’s open-minded, and opened my mind – it might have something to do here, with the fact that we are an island, and small and tunnel vision is what we end up having and there, you just feel like the world is your oyster, and I can do anything I want.”
- Part I – The five essential acv questions – Jay Seans answers
The Mistress II free download is here
‘All I Want’ (from ‘The Mistress II’)