On Friday, 1 September 2017, the multi talented singer-songwriter, Jake Grey, released a new music video on his YouTube channel which is his debut album. Jake’s musical prowess as a singer-songwriter shines through in his seven-song compilation which is songs from his heart to the listener. Jake says, “I hope that others can enjoy these seven songs. They’re clean, catchy, and fun. I want people to come to Christ because of these songs. I think being a clean artist will have them investigate me and in turn, find the Church. Avoiding destructive and explicit songs is key to having a clean mind and soul.”
The songs included on the 23:09 self-titled album is “Upside Down,” “Love Dream,” “Royalty,” “Just Sad,” “Samauree,” “Soup,” and “Lucky Guy.” As with every song that has ever been written, there is a backstory, and each of Jake’s songs has its own unique and special story to tell. Jake takes us on a personal tour of his life as he shares each of the stories with us.
Jake wrote the song “Upside Down” in about 15 minutes in June 2015. He was not dating anyone at the time but recalls that the purpose in writing the song was to help him identify the right girl. He commented, “Once I found a girl that made me feel the way the song describes, I had a keeper.” Through one of his clients, he connected to Randy Slaugh and they worked together on “Upside Down” and “Love Dream” in 2015. He recorded the vocals in Eric Thayne’s studio. Originally, Ashley Hess was supposed to sing backup vocals but was unable to due to a scheduling conflict. Fortunately, Jake was introduced to Kaylie Stewart, and she did an excellent job on the harmonies. Jake says that Eric, Kaylie, and Randy helped to bring his vision for the song to life. “Upside Down” has more than 10,000 plays on Spotify, and Jake is excited to see how people will react to the album version that he collaborated with Garion Wells on.
Jake wrote the song “Love Dream” with Lee Liston in Spring 2015 during a jam session. It is the second song that he and Randy Slaugh worked on as a team. He tweaked the song in July 2015, and Chance Clift recorded his vocals, Lee’s vocals, and Kaylie’s vocals for the song. Jake admits that he didn’t really like how the song initially turned out but feels that the album version that Garion Wells helped him create reveals this true vision for the song. He says, “I’m so grateful for Lee Liston and his incredible mind. His ability to come up with the original melody really was key to making this song.”
The song “Royalty” was written on 1 February 2016 for his girlfriend at the time. Sadly, she broke up with him over a text message the next day before she had a chance to hear the song. Heartbroken, he left Utah and moved back to his home state of Georgia. The part in the song “hey love” originally sung her name. Jake says that he changed the lyric out of “pure awkwardness.” When he was back in Georgia, he connected with Aaron Pace. Aaron created a beautiful tune and they recorded vocals, however, because of complications, the full song was never finished and was released with the imperfections still in place. Embarrassed by the failed production, Jake put the song aside and didn’t touch it for months. Later he started working on the song with Garion Wells, but the version was scratched because they were unable to integrate new vocals. After struggling to fix the song for the better part of a year, Jake discovered PBM studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and decided to give them a chance. He asked his friend, Ryley Beaumont, to sing on the track and his roommate, Dallin Rivera, to video record the session. They worked through recording “Royalty” with Michael Robinson, Jr., the studio’s Audio Engineer. Once the vocals were recorded, Jake spoke with a few other engineers to help finish recording the tracks. He decided to go with Héctor David Escárzaga. David took the track and cleaned it up. Jake says that he really enjoys this mix and hopes people will appreciate the nuances of the song.
Jake wrote the song “Just Sad” two weeks after writing “Royalty.” Feeling frustrated and depressed at the time, he began working on the track with Randy Slaugh when he got to Georgia. The original plan was to sell the song to a record label, however, after much thought and contemplation, they decided to release the track as a “Jake Grey” song. Unfortunately, the original version of the song was lost when Randy’s hard drive became corrupted and they redid the song. At PBM studios, Jake and his friend Ryley recorded with Michael to fill out the track. David then took the instrumentals and the vocals and made a beautiful mix. Jake believes that it is the dynamic range of the song that people will enjoy. He comments, “It has trap elements and then changes to a relaxing pop song. I think it’s worth your listen.”
When Jake was living in Utah, he met a lovely young lady around Halloween 2015 who he believed was his everything. However, because of different circumstances in each of their lives, it did not work out as he had hoped. Three months after he moved to Georgia, he wrote the song “Samauree” for her. She recently got married but the last time that he spoke to her, she said that she loved the song. Randy Slaugh brought an orchestral sound to what was a very simple song. At PBM studios, Ryley and Jake recorded their vocals with Michael and David mixed the track afterward. Jake further comments, “This song has always been one of my favorites to sing. I really love orchestras and string instruments, so being able to release a track with these sounds feels amazing.”
In his own words, this is how the song “Soup” came about:
In Atlanta, I met this sister Missionary that I really enjoyed getting to know. When I was hanging out with a friend, she and her companion stopped by. I thought she looked like Emma Watson, so I was immediately interested in being her friend. Once she got home, this young lady and I started face timing and calling frequently. Her living in Utah and me living in Georgia proved to be too much for our friendship to handle, so nothing romantic came of it. I wrote “Soup” out of the pain of this relationship that never blossomed. I tried to model the chorus after cliché terms while the bridge was impactful, heartfelt, and meaningful. Randy Slaugh came up with a killer instrumental, Michael did a great job tracking the vocals for himself, Ryley and me, and David did an excellent job mixing the song. I hope that this song resonates in the hearts of the listeners.
Jake says that on 30 December 2016, he was struggling. He hadn’t been an active member of the LDS church for some time. He decided to go to an LDS dance (for New Year’s Eve) close to where he attended high school. He never imagined that the experience would change the course of his life. He recalls, “Around 90 minutes into the dance, I was bored and confused. Not being “really” Mormon made me feel isolated. I was with friends from high school and I still felt like an outcast. Luckily, one of my best friends, Bryan Baldwin, showed up and helped me to loosen up. Within about 15 minutes of being myself again, I met a young lady with the prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. She and I danced and got to know each other. Our connection was so solid that I went to church the next day with her. Heavenly Father really helped me here by getting to church.” The relationship dissolved over the next two weeks, but Jake attributes her for being instrumental in getting him to continue to go to Church. He wrote the song “Lucky Guy” within a few days of meeting her. He says, “Lucky Guy is and will be one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever had the privilege of working on.”
Jake concludes by saying, “Overall, this ‘album’ has been such a blessing. Working with amazing singers like Kaylie, Michael, Lee, and Ryley has been incredible. Working with talented producers like Aaron and Randy has been life-changing. Working with incredible audio engineers like Eric, Michael, Chance, Garion, and David has been such a cool experience. Huge thanks to everyone who has listened to and shared my music!
Latter-day Saint Musicians would like to thank Jake Grey for allowing us the privilege to do an exclusive article about his new album, and we wish him all the best in his future musical endeavors.