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JAE5 & Lojay Discuss The 'Loveless' EP, Working With Libianca & Future Amapiano Collaboration [Interview]

Grammy Award winning phenomenon JAE5, the producer that blessed us with ‘Dimension’, ‘Propeller’, ‘I Wish’ links up with Afrobeat star Lojay to bring us the new 4 track EP titled, 'Loveless'.

I sat down with two of the stars taking over the South African sound to discuss their project and collaboration featuring Libianca, Tyler ICU and Sha Sha. Think melodic love letters, meets dance anthems intertwined with soulful sounds that bring a new meaning to vulnerable lyricism in music with no limits to genres. 

NW: Can you talk a bit about how the track “Dishonest” was born and how you both feel about bringing soul to Amapiano as a genre through this song?

Lojay: When it comes to making music, I don’t think we’re necessarily keen on the genre. Most of the songs we actually recorded acapella first and from there we just pushed it into whatever direction we wanted it to go. For the most part we just focus on creating good music, for this particular song we found that the Amapiano direction worked. We had Tyler ICU and Sha Sha come in and take it to another realm.

NW: Previously working with Libianca on “Tonight”, what did the collaboration process look like on this new track “I wish”?

JAE5: The song was actually done, Lojay had finished it, we weren’t looking for any features. I played a version that had Lojay’s second verse muted because I hadn’t mixed it and then Libianca started doing her melodies and I think that was the point where it felt like ohh this could be interesting. It was just a matter of going back to Lojay and saying “I think she would suit this can we try it out?", and in the end the sound really worked.

NW: Each song expresses different facets of love, we can hear elements of relationship struggles and regret through its lyricism. I think a lot of people will resonate with the experiences heard throughout the songs. Does the producing and writing process of the EP heal these experiences as it does for us as listeners?

Lojay: In terms of writing the music, I think for the most part it was therapeutic for me. When I record, I like to use it as an avenue to let my feelings out, and I did that a lot with this project. With the project in general, I personally focused on being as honest as possible on every song and let myself be vulnerable. 

JAE5: Lojay directs the topics we talk about. When I heard the “I Wish” track, what I was hearing was completely different to what Lojay was talking about. I heard the songs in a very different light to what they might be intended. There were different parts that were definitely therapeutic especially for “I Wish”, the direction of the video, the making of the tracks and even just the end result was therapeutic.

Lojay: That’s part of the magic, it’s our two different perspectives.

NW: “Water Mami” already feels like the summer anthem for this year. Jae5, do you feel representation for Afrobeats in East London especially has been recognised considering the talent that has come from here within grime, hiphop and garage over the years?

JAE5: I honestly don’t know. When I’ve grown up in East London, I’ve always  gone to the African parties, so for me it’s always been there, it’s always been represented in the same way as grime, maybe even more but it’s dependent on surroundings. It’s obviously grown a lot from when I was younger to now. But there’s always been a good representation of Afrobeats in London. 

NW: Production wise does leaning towards a more electronic feel especially expressed on ‘Dishonest’ mean that the genre is heading towards this direction and how do you feel this will transform rave culture?

JAE5: Dishonest might have maybe 20 or so versions of that track. It started a lot slower, it was like a disco-type track. Over time, sped it up, slowed it down, pitched it up and down, and it ended up getting sent to South Africa. Tyla ICU did a lot of manipulation on the drums, so it’s been very interesting to see where the song has ended up. Genre wise I don’t even understand what it is, it’s a mix of a lot of things.

NW: Both of you have an impressive collaboration list under your belts, are there upcoming artists within the afrobeats, amapiano or hiphop genres you would love to work with that weren’t on this EP?

Lojay; If we’re talking about amapiano I really enjoy Musa Keys, I think he’s an amazing artist and performer. I’m looking forward to putting out music with Tyla too, it’s a very interesting song too. 

JAE5: I agree with the names Lojay said.  There’s this one guy Kabza de Small I have shazam’d 5 or 6 songs and it’s the same name that keeps popping up, I didn’t know it was him and every song I have liked over the last few months it’s been him. 

Lojay: He and Musa are some of the most influential producers when it comes to the rise of amapiano from South Africa. That’s an amazing producer right there!

JAE5:I want to work with a lot of amapiano artists, African artists in general! The space that I'm in, it feels most comfortable to work with artists like Lojay, people who have fun with melodies. The country isn’t a barrier, Lojay did a song, we could have got an Indian artist, an African artist, and it would still work. I want to work with artists that aren’t stuck genre wise, they are just happy to do music.

NW: Lojay, can you tell us anything about your upcoming album you have been teasing for 2024?

Lojay: I’m very excited about the album, I’ve been working on it for a while now. At the moment it’s at a stage of finalising and perfecting, but it’s my best piece of work so far. It’s been a joy to establish this new world and this new character. 

JAE5: I’m very excited to hear it as well! I’ve heard a one or two snippets and Lojay’s gone, “maybe…”. I’m like, “these are your maybe’s?”, I’m itching to hear the confirmed ones!


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