With a sound directly rising from the New York City nightlife scene, Jayse Vegas has had the wisdom to partner up with true nightlife luminaries on the road to success. From working with future RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist/trans activist Peppermint to his brand new EP The Gay Agenda, Vegas took a break from rehearsals and performances to chat with me about the meaning behind the new music, his biggest inspirations, and why knowing his own worth has been one of his biggest advantages.
Michael Cook: For those that have never heard your music, describe your sound for me.
Jayse Vegas: My sound is a mixture of pop and r&b, influenced by lo-fi and deep house. My songs are – chill dance songs, with honest lyrics. I’m somewhere between stoner music, and Top 40 (laughs)!
MC: How did you get started in the world of music and NYC nightlife?
JV: In 2014, I dropped my first EP Take What You Need and since then I have been doing nothing but focusing on music and performing. I have been working in nightlife for the about the same time of time. I have been solely focused on my music and nightlife for the past two and a half years.) My first EP wasn’t only my introduction to the world of music, but was also when I took my first steps into nightlife! With the help of DJ Steve Sidewalk, I was able to host a release party at Gay College Tuesdays. I had huge X’s on my hand because I was only 19 at time and that did not sit well with me, so I took two years to focus on my music and save up for productions (i.e. music videos, two other EPs).
I turned 21 & dropped the original version of my single “Body” & did a few shows. Peppermint was the first Drag Queen to book me at Do The Right Thing at The Ritz. From there I networked, went to other events, performed at other events, and supported other nightlife artists. I eventually started hosting parties while also being a background dancer for Adriana Trenta.
MC: Tell me about your new EP The Gay Agenda.
JV: The Gay Agenda is my third studio EP. It features six songs all written by me and produced with the help of two other artists/ producers. Songs like “Born Again” (produced by yours truly) and “Peace Be With You” (produced by Christopher Ambrose). Each song has its own story to tell, but all of them revolve around acceptance. One song is about accepting a new love, while another is about accepting your demons, accepting that you aren’t someone’s cup of tea. For me that is what The Gay Agenda is about acceptance.
MC: You put it all out there in your music; what are some of your favorite tracks on the EP? What do you think you learned about yourself the most from the recording process?
JV: I like for my music to be relatable, and that calls for a lot of vulnerability. Putting it all out there is my way of connecting with people. I can’t really tell you which song is my favorite because it changes everyday. One day I’m in my feelings and “No Mercy” speaks to me on so many levels. On another day, “Peace Be With You” is all I want to listen because the dance break and the optimistic lyrics get me all together & always puts me in a good mood. I’m honestly very proud of this body of work so I can say each track is my favorite! They all showcase who I am perfectly.
The one thing I’ve learned the most about myself while working on this project is that I’m a great songwriter; I don’t mean that in any bit of a cocky way! I’m just saying, listening back- even during the recording sessions- I took some steps back /mental moments where I said, “damn, I wrote that? Yasss”!
MC: You have collaborated with many people, RuPaul’s Drag Race doll Honey Davenport among them. What is it like working with Honey? Any other dream collaborations you have in mind?
JV: I love collaborations! There’s nothing like working with someone else who loves doing the same thing you do and is just as passionate. It also builds unity in the community and outside as well. Working with Honey Davenport is a lot of fun. We co-wrote a few of her songs together, and I got to co-producer with them as well. I also got to be featured on one of them (“Cocoa Butter”). We’ve got some more things in the works. Honey and I have built such an amazing bond since she featured me on the remix for my song “Body” in 2017. It continues to grow and it gets better with every bit of work we put out together. Honey Davenport inspires me on so many levels. It’s an amazing experience working with them.
I have a wide range of dream collaborations. When it comes to drag queens, I’m really interested in working with Alaska Thunderfuck and Adore Delano. Outside of nightlife, I really want to work with Bebe Rexha, Sia, Bad Bunny and Snow Tha Product. Some day of course I’d love to have my name next to Madonna and Nicki Minaj as well! (laughs), putting it into the universe right?
MC: Being a male recording artist in the LGBT community can be challenging; what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
JV: Being an artist alone is challenging. Being a male recording artist in the LGBT community has come with a series of obstacles. When I first started, I would hear “they don’t really hire live acts” a lot. Then there’s keeping the audience’s attention- for me there’s more pressure because I only perform original music – music only people who know of me would know. No matter the hurdle put in front of me, I’ve always kept my cool by reminding myself why I do what I do.
MC: Where can people find you? I hear Rockbar?
JV: Where can’t you find me (laughs)? I am at Rockbar once a month for Slay With Me. I am also at Offside Tavern every Wednesday for my show Feels Like Vegas and once a month at Macri Bar for Tourch. I also perform at various parties and events throughout the week.
MC: What’s next for Jayse Vegas?
JV: World domination (laughs)! You can expect to see some amazing visuals and incredible performances inspired by my EP.
MC: What gives you the most pride?
JV: My perseverance is what I take pride in. Being an independent QPOC artist has come with its difficulties, but that has not stopped me. Every time I said I wanted something I got it, despite being told otherwise.
For information on those events follow me on Instagram @JayseVegas
Art Courtesy of Jayse Vegas (Facebook)