Transitioning from producer to singer-songwriter isn’t so difficult when music has been your first love your entire life. Insert Ljay Currie, who traded his hoop dreams for the studio, and determined to show up anyone who didn’t take him seriously. Read more…
Trading the basketball and the hoop for the pen and microphone, the 20-year-old is finally ready to debut himself as a recording artist, with no genre labels or barriers to enclose his free spirit. With his most recent release, “Undercover” featuring Kiana Ledé, he gives fans a sneak peak of what’s to come from the new Motown signee.
For those who don’t know, who is Ljay Currie?
Ljay Currie is a homegrown LA artist from Gardena, California, who grew up in love with music. Just a creative who tries everything, and isn’t scared of much.
I didn’t know you were from Gardena. Do you still stay there?
I moved to West Hollywood, but I actually just got kicked out of my apartment recently because I made noise. I used to make beats all night til 4 in the morning. I had sixty noise complaints in 2 months… only in 2 months!
Are you in a complex?
It’s a little penthouse thing. I thought I was going to be alright because I didn’t have many neighbors, but they would just hear me throughout the whole building. It was bad. I’m looking for a new place to live.
Come to downtown!
Oh no. [laughs] There’s a lot of homeless people. I like to just get out and walk. There’s a lot going on out here. It’s cool though, I like this area.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I don’t know, I talk about that with my team all the time. I’m just a creative, I like to just go in there and make the music that I like. However it comes out, that’s how comes out. It’s hard to put a ceiling on it, in a sense. I’m just going with the flow.
You’re from LA, how does that play into your life and career?
I actually want to move away, but LA will always be a home. I know I can always come back home because I have my family and friends here, and just be back and forth and kind of have a double life. I appreciate LA. LA is a huge part of who I am because I’ve been in so many relationships — especially because of social media. Different type of relationships, not even necessarily with girls, but friends, business partnerships. I got to see so much, so early, and I feel like I’m a lot more wise than the average person that didn’t grow up in LA. I can talk about that stuff in my music. It made me a better person to see everything, and make judgement on what I want to be.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s where everything is. The name of the game is networking, and this is the capital of networking. You gotta get out and meet different producers, executives, DJs, everything. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Just making a good impression on people can go so far. I feel like everything I got is just off of being nice to people.
What was the inspiration behind keeping your real name?
It’s me. It’s just me. It’s the only way I can put it. I want my artistry to be authentic, because that’s who I am. I’m not… I was trying to think of a name on spot, but I couldn’t think of one. [laughs] I’m nobody but Ljay, that’s me.
Did you have other names on the table?
Nah, just my gamer tag. I almost made my gamer tag my artist name, but that still would be Ljay. Ljay Vulture.
Talk about your journey in music. At point did you realize this was forreal?
I always wanted it to be for real, but it wasn’t until probably 2 years ago when everybody else took me for real. Because I grew up playing basketball as an athlete and had Division I scholarships to everywhere around the country. Me choosing to not go that route shocked a lot of people that didn’t believe me. I feel like the hardest part was me convincing everybody else that this was what I wanted to do, that this was actually an occupation and I can make a living making music. Just convincing everybody else, because I was already convinced since I was younger that this is what I wanted to do.
You recently linked with Kiana Lede on “Undercover.” Talk about the making of the record and visual.
It was just a vibe, and I feel that is what music is all about. I’m a free-spirited a̶r̶t̶i̶s̶t̶ writer, let me say. Because I’ll write a song anywhere. Wherever the vibe is, I just go with the vibe. You have those days where you get in and it just doesn’t come to you, and on those days, I just relax. I don’t try to force it. That day was really thorough, and it kind of just came. It was inspiration from my life and what I was going through at the time: I was talking to somebody and we just kind of kept it under wraps. Kiana was a great addition. She was kind of dealing with similar things, so it was just a vibe. Kiana is dope energy. We kind of just played off of each other and made the record the best we could.
What are you currently working on? Is there a project in the works?
Yes, there is. I’m working on my album and putting a lot of time into it. But like I said, I’m a free spirited writer, so I’m always writing, always writing, always writing. I’m just making all types of music, then I’ma just bring it down and really focus on what I need. My project is going to be pretty dope. It’s gonna be different. First listen, it’s going to be like, “Oh shit, what is this?” But then once you get used to it and hear it a couple of times, you’ll appreciate the music a lot.
Do you have an accent?
I don’t think so. I spent some time in New Orleans.
I feel like I can hear it.
Maybe when I hang out around those people, I feel like you might hear something just because you are who you hang out with. Sometimes. But not really, I’m from LA.
I saw you in a pic with Wiz. You guys cooking at all?
Oh, I was just doing some producing. He’s dope, he’s a dope energy. It was even dope to just be in that setting, to be around and just learn. Hopefully, we can get it in and really create on something with our artistry. That would be really sick. He’s a good dude.
Talk about signing to Motown?
It was exciting and a life changing moment for me. Like I said, I was a transitional phase of trying to convince everybody else. Me signing to Motown was my solidification of just like, “Aight, I don’t want to say ‘I made it,’ but I made it this far. This is my job now.” I love the team over there. It’s dope because it’s a lot of women in power positions, so there’s a lot of compassion with the label. I really like that. I appreciate everything they do for me. It’s a good energy around the building. Also, it’s dope to be a part of such a legacy. It’s like I’m the future of the legacy.
What is your take on the music industry?
[whistles] It can be hectic, it can be discouraging, but it is what it is. And it’s not changing. I’m going to just embrace it, push through and work through it. There are some discouraging things about it that will push you away from the music, but once you push through and stamp your mark in there, you’re alright. It’s interesting. I just kind of stay in my place and do me.
What did you do with your first advance?
Spent it all. [laughs]
Nonsense. I was getting cars. I got that penthouse which was completely too expensive. In a sense, I feel like I had to go through that. Especially me getting kicked out of my apartment now, I spent so much money on this apartment for them to just be like, “You gotta go.” I don’t know, I feel like I needed that to learn. I got back on my feet and now, I’m a lot smarter with money. Sometimes, it’s helpful to go through that phase.
How important is social media for your career?
Super important. This whole generation is social media. It’s probably one of the craziest forms promotion. To be able to make a video and people can just look at it and take it in for whatever they want, it’s amazing. I try to not to use it too much for the wrong reasons. Social media is a beautiful thing but if mistaken, it can be toxic. But if you use it for the right things, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s such an amazing idea. It’s crazy it’s even real. It just seems so surreal sometimes.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
A lot of Fortnite, I’ma just say that right now.
That’s hilarious, you need to play with… who made that “Fortnite” song, Murda Beatz?
I seen that. Yeah, that’s hard. I’m nice too. I wake up and probably play like 3 hours before I get my food. Then I probably put in another 3 hours, take 30 minute intermissions just so I don’t go crazy, then I probably put in another 3 hours. That’s my whole day.
Nah, my days vary. I have been playing a lot of Fortnite and Call of Duty but in the midst of that, I like to be creative at some point of time of my day. I practice the piano. I have a dog, I like to walk my dog. I’m pretty much a homebody, in the sense that I make the most out of my home. I’m creative. My friends will come over and we’ll just start jamming on the instruments, or make a game and play it. We’ll go outside with the balls, [pause] and just play. I’m a free spirit. I kind of just go with the flow, but I am to myself. I don’t party, club, drink or smoke.
3 things you need in the studio?
I love candy.
Gotta have candy. What’s your favorite candy?
I love vanilla tootsie rolls, is that random?
Yeah, so random. I like vanilla. I like the smell of vanilla too, like on candles.
What’s your favorite?
My favorite candy is like anything sour: Sour Patches, Sour Skittles. I need candy. I like candles, incense… I like scents. I don’t need much. Like I said, I’m a free spirited writer so if the vibe is there, the vibe is there. Recently, I’ve had Fortnite in the studio every time I go. I just go with the flow. Sometimes, we’ll have sessions were we have girls and create the vibe, ‘cause I like to see how they think and talk. I write a lot about women because that’s what I went through. Being 20 years old, I don’t know anything but women. Sometimes, I like to have girls, sometimes, it’s no girls. Sometimes homies, sometimes no homies. Most of the time, it’s Fortnite, that’s important.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Something creative. I feel like music is at the surface. I take my music very seriously — not too serious, but serious as an artist. I feel like music is the spark to start whatever I want to do. I want to do so much. I want to write movies, direct, act. I want to draw. Anything creative, I want to do it. I want to skate. I roller skate a lot.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Let me look. I hate to say this right now, but probably Kanye.
Don’t tell me the “Lil Pump” song!
I like that too, it just came out. But I just find so much inspiration in Kanye and Lil Wayne. It just kind of sucks that Kanye is going through whatever he is mentally, politically, and just his personal life. Us as outsiders, we have our views on him but if you put all that aside, musically, I love him. I actually really enjoy Kiana’s music, aside of the record we have. She’s up there. I listen to everything: Musiq Soulchild, Panic At The Disco, Paramore…
I had a little emo phase.
Me too, I’m still going through it. [laughs] I listen to everything now. I’m looking in here and it’s so many different types. Big Punisher “I’m Not a Player,” then Rex Orange County… Mahalia. I never looked at ads until I got my own ad. Once I got my own ad on Instagram and Apple Music, I started looking at the other ones. I’m looking, “Oh, who’s this? She’s dope.” That’s how I found her. Metro Station, Miley Cyrus, [laughs] Travis Scott. Literally, my music selection is all over the place. [scrolls phone] I produced some of these too.
I feel like I went over this question so many times in my head, but I still don’t have it. On one song, Justin Bieber on the hook, because his voice is just dope. He brings such a big audience. He’s also so diverse, he’s down to do anything. JB maybe back and forth with me on the hook, me on the verses, and the last verse would probably have to be Wayne.