When it comes to breaking boundaries, disrupting norms, and challenging the status quo, ambition is a pretty key factor in success. Disobeying conventions that have formulaically led to success for others in environments like the Australian music industry is a pretty risky thing to do – but it’s exactly what Perth-born and raised artist, Jaycee, has done.
Promoted by media sources like Triple J Unearthed, Pilerats, WAM and Leo Alhalabi, the singer-songwriter has not done too badly. Jaycee’s first break came with his single Time to Go, featured on Triple J Unearthed for two consecutive weeks. More recently, he performed at Groovin the Moo in 2019.
Successes aside, there’s room for wholesome content, too; the launch party for his second mixtape was both urban and philanthropic, with 10% of ticket sales going to MercyCare Aboriginal Youth Services.
My interest was piqued at the announcement of his 26-week project: he will release a new song and music video every Monday, for 6 months straight, and will collaborate with videographer and photographer Andrew McIvor, the Creative Director of JustPlay Media. For someone who can’t keep up with university lectures or my plethoric to-do list, it’s safe to say that I was both confused and impressed.
Wanting to learn about the necessity of conceptual harmony in artistic collaboration, I spoke with the boys to hear about this ambitious venture.
Over to you Jaycee – could you introduce yourself and your sound to Pelican?
What’s up Pelican! I’m an artist through and through. I’m passionate about making music, my creative artform, and being able to impact the world in a positive way through sonic sound. I like to show the world more of me, more of my authentic self and experiences in life.
My sound is very versatile. On paper you could say I’m a rapper. I’m black so it kind of fits the part. But I don’t personally think I have a set sound. At the end of the day I’m a musician, a creative artist, so there are no boundaries on the music I create. At this point in time I predominantly make Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, Trap music but in the future, I see myself making Rock and Jazz songs.
How long have you been interested in music?
I’ve always been about the music. I remember being really young in the back seat of the car when the radio was playing; as I was listening to songs, I was picturing how the song could have been done differently, how the melodies could have been sung, different instruments they could add etc.
I didn’t really think that was anything at the time, I was like 7 or 8, I thought that’s what everyone did but when I look back on it now it all makes sense. I was born to make music. I got a guitar when I was 10 and began practising. Around late high school as the fire for music started to burn, I had no choice but to build a studio in my spare room and to trial and error with beats and songs.
Who inspires you?
A lot of people inspire me, but I think the most important thing is being inspired by yourself. You can’t always depend on external people or sources to feel good about yourself, you have to practice self-love and self-belief to give love and radiate love. I’m inspired by how far I’ve come, how I’m a better person than I was yesterday and the hard work I’ve put in.
I went on an independent tour, I independently released two self-produced mixtapes last year, I’m dropping a song a week etc. Looking out externally though, my mum, dad and my friends are inspirations for me. Some high-profile people that are inspirations for me are Will Smith, Russ, Kanye, The Rock and just anyone else who is being their best version.
Tell us about this project?
#OneSongOneDream is a project/campaign where I’m releasing a new original song (Produced, Mixed, Mastered & Written by me) with a music video for each song every single week for 6 months straight!
The idea came really organically. I was simply creating so much music that it got to a point where I had so many songs and we didn’t know what to do with them. Compared to full mixtapes, we noticed the singles I was releasing were getting way better reactions and engagement. I went to the team and discussed the idea of releasing a new single every week instead. It’s a great strategy that a few artists have done before and seen a lot of success with, but we wanted to take it up a notch and do something no one has done before.
Prior artists had released a song a week before, but no one had done it with a music video; that’s when the idea of a video component came about. I gave Andrew a call (JustPlay Media) and we discussed the idea of this project. It was a perfect fit for Andrew and I, we both understand that to get what you want it takes serious hard work, and we both respect one another creatively in our respective fields. Ideally at the end of this project we just want to reach maximum potential and exposure. We’re playing really big with this! Andrew wants to be the biggest video director in the world, and I want to be the biggest artist in the world – and whatever it takes for us to get there, we’ll do it.
What do you think is the biggest factor that influences success in the music industry?
There are a number of things. Everyone is on a visibility vs ability grind. A lot of artists might only have the ability to make a few good songs and then realise they don’t have any more ideas. On the other hand, you have artists like myself, who can do this forever because this is what we are. Creating music is what we were born to do.
Exposure is a huge component to this; you could blow up tomorrow with only 2 songs if you get the right exposure. You see this all the time, artists who are signed to major labels who literally release 1 or 2 songs and all of a sudden they are popping from a few shout outs and a few playlists. Creating your own exposure and connections is the difficult part but that’s where the true leverage and longevity as an artist is.
Then the mental side is huge factor too. Being patient with the process. Everyone’s journey is different. Believing in yourself and being authentic is key.
What’s working with Andrew like?
Working with Andrew is so natural and organic. We first worked together early last year on a few of my early music videos. This whole #OneSongOneDream has been a walk in the park in terms of communication and creative execution between us. We both understand how to flow with one another, we have like-minded creative ideas and visions. I owe a lot to Andrew. He’s an incredible friend and hands down the GOAT of Australia. I guarantee he will be the next biggest videographer to do it out of Australia.
Favourite song lyric thus far?
Why do they act surprised
Oh they don’t really know me
Devil playing games with me
But he came disguised
Don’t put your pain on me
It will take your life
Nights when I made these beats
But I ain’t been signed
Oh they better wait and see
But I think they’re blind
These lyrics are facts. It’s like you have to work in the dark for your light to shine. It’s just people putting judgement on you, playing tricks on your mind telling you you’re not good enough. Everyone is quick to make excuses, blame other people and put their pain onto others; in reality that will only make you sad, depressed and unfulfilled. At the end of the day everyone is gonna see.
What kind of legacy do you want to have?
Look I’m not into playing small. I want to have the biggest legacy possible. I want to really do it for Australia and go down as one of the greats and be an inspiration to the world and especially the youth. I want my music to inspire millions. I want my music to be timeless.
And now for the other half of this dynamic duo. Hey Andrew, could you introduce yourself to Pelican?
Hey Pelican, my name is Andrew McIvor, Iʼm 22 years old, originally from New Zealand and now living in Perth, Western Australia. Iʼm the owner of Photo and Video Production brand, JustPlay Media.
What inspires you?
A lot of things inspire me along this creative journey of mine. I would have to say first and foremost are the creatives that I surround myself with in Perth in which there are a lot of people, ranging from musicians, to graphic designers and photographers and videographers like myself. In terms of specific people a few names are Cole Bennett, Bernard Marcelo (from Perth originally), LoneWolf, YungTada. All are video creatives in their own right and are at a level that I would like to be at someday.
What goes in to making a music video?
A lot of work goes in to a music video that people donʼt realise. What you see is the final product, just the video itself. Behind that, countless hours of concept planning and location scouting goes into that, along with the actual filming process, then the editing of the video. This is all usually done with a whole team of people. Iʼm very fortunate to have some of my good friends help with my videos, however I would say most of the time it is done by myself. Iʼve had the pleasure to have worked with over 40 artists here in Perth currently.
The more music videos Iʼve filmed, the more I have struggled with maintaining new and fresh ideas, especially in a small city like Perth. However, Iʼm always watching music videos on the internet and my surrounding country that I live in; always trying to find any sort of inspiration that I can to then apply my own twist to my videos.
The equipment I use – although it is the creative behind the lens which determines the overall quality of the video – also does play a part in the making of video. Ranging from my Sony A7sii camera, to drones and stabilisers, all play their role into helping create my vision. All are very, very expensive so Iʼm very fortunate to have been able to afford such things.
If you could produce a music video for anyone, who would it be?
If I could produce a music video for anyone, it would probably be A$AP Rocky or Octavian. Itʼs not just the artists music that I enjoy but each one of their visuals that accompany their songs are equally amazing. (Shoutout Armin and Dexter Navy who do most of the visuals for these two artists respectively).
What’s working with Jaycee like?
Working with Jaycee is very fast paced I must say. Heʼs a very creative guy in general, not just as a musician, so he always has ideas flowing through his mind and is always pitching new ones. Which is awesome because we bounce a lot of ideas off each other. We met through a mutual friend of ours about mid 2018 (shout- out to Ash Maz), because Jaycee was looking at getting a music video done. We linked up from there, smashed out the visual which was “You Love It” (a personal favourite from mine), and the rest is history.
I want to hear about one project from two artistic perspectives – can you explain yours?
Regarding the “OneSong One Dream” project, I was quite hesitant at first because 26 music videos is an enormous task for myself; I think I filmed just over 30 in the space of last year alone. At the same time though, it is a big challenge creatively, constantly having to think up new and fresh ideas for these 26 visuals, and so far I think weʼre doing great.
How do you think people perceive ‘behind the scenes’ crews?
The “behind the scenes” crew I think are definitely underrated. All the audience sees is the finished product on their screen, they donʼt see the work that was put into by costume designers, makeup, DOPs, directors, editors etc. Being part of the industry, Iʼm witnessing it first hand and I can say, the work that these people put into the making of music videos is quite unappreciated. Which is also why in a lot of my music videos I have end credits stating the names of all who helped, regardless of their job on the day.
What do you see as the status of the Australian urban arts and music scene on the global stage?
The Australian urban arts and music scene is definitely on the come up. Itʼs sort of like one big melting pot bubbling up; itʼs only a matter of time before it explodes and bursts onto the global scene.
What is your vision?
My vision is to have JustPlay Media become a globally recognised photo and video brand. I want to work with the biggest artists this world has to offer with music I enjoy and create awesome relationships. Having the financial freedom to film and create my own projects as well as endeavouring onto other outlets like having my own clothing too. Thatʼll be the dream one day.
The essence of this project lies in ambition and artistic civil disobedience. By interrupting regularities in such a competitive industry, they’ve unsettled the standard and drawn attention to what happens when you think outside the [beat]box and push yourself creatively and professionally.
There is something special to be said about the way local art, music, architecture, language and people work together to form cultures and trends. I find myself pretty proud to see this humble pair of local talents pursuing some big dreams, and highly anticipating the success of their next set of big ideas.
You can follow their creative journeys here:
Words by Izabela Barakovska