CODE First Play: Justin Jay, 'Instincts'

Roundly considered one of dirtybird’s brightest talents, 21-year-old Justin Jay has readied his first original EP on the San Francisco label since last year’s breakout “Static.”

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The release’s title track, “Instincts,” is a thumping serving of fat funk bass, incisive hi-hats and squealing synthesizers, with a throwback vocal thrown atop for good measure.

“The way I make most of my music is by aimlessly throwing crap at the wall and seeing what sticks,” says Jay. “I really wanted to see if I could toss disco, and techno into the blender and end up with a house track that would work in my sets.”

Listen to the full premiere of the track exclusively on Billboard CODE:

Jay credits last summer’s European tour with Claude Vonstroke with exposing him to techno, a new influence that he channels to a greater degree on the EP’s other two tracks “Denial” and “Analysis Paralysis.” When the Los Angeles native showed the latter to Vonstroke, he never dreamed that the dirtybird boss would insist on signing it.

“I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and head down some unexplored territory,” says Jay. “I definitely went to a few really good techno parties at the beginning of the year here that totally solidified my desire to try going down that direction.”

Jay also cites Los Angeles collective Droid Behavior with carving out a growing techno niche in the City of Angels, which the college senior tries to explore when he’s not too busy cramming for finals. But don’t expect Jay to abandon his funk house roots just yet.

“Techno’s so primal, it sometimes can be too brooding for me and I'll just be lost in thought on the dance floor,” says Jay. “House’s melodies and catchiness distracts me more, and it keeps me smiling on the dance floor. But when I'm in the right mood for some techno, it's probably the best thing ever.”

“Instincts” will be available through dirtybird on June 9th.


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