Music being the most universal of all art forms, finds itself divided into genres and subgenres although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation and occasionally controversial.
A record label that began as a production company (1992) by founding members Jay Denes and bassist Dave Boonshoft still relishes on the decision taken to break away from joint ventures that were somewhat restraining. Thriving on being independent to much delight ensured Naked Music Recordings (1998) kept to its truest inclinations of “releasing forward-thinking music that defies easy categorization”. The Naked Treatment remixes involving commercially popular musicians were the buzz of the town yet the partners yearned for more creative directorship and ownership. The liberty gained followed with an array of well-received CD compilations, so well received that a widespread emergence of copycats relating to Naked Music’s style of CD cover illustrations led to the label dropping the alluring format. The label’s name serves as an emphatic direction denoting that the label is purely about unfractured, undressed, well thought through music. The stable’s artist fold grew citing a millennium joint venture with EMI/Virgin that saw the introduction of an extensive and impressive catalog inclusive of the likes of Aya, Miguel Miggs, Gaelle Addison, and Jay Denes’ moniker Blue Six.
The meticulous production stemming from Blue Six is one that has stood the test of time. When an array of producers compromised their signature sound over the years for commercialization, Jay Denes stayed true, elevated, and exerted more soulful bliss upon his faithful fanbase. Every album release with an interval of four to five years is worth the wait and a sound impossible to imitate. A mystery man to many, a jewel to the ears of producers and DJs all over the globe is a New Yorker that manages to musically elope a person to a captivating place of solace away from the anxieties of life. The reserved producer boasts an impressive discography suitable for any setting. Beautiful Tomorrow with its subliminal wine theme gets you on your dancing feet whilst Aquarian Angel invokes feelings of introspection, soul searching, and hope through cemented sublime vocals. Noesis released in 2010 holds the duality of a message for lovers while considering the realities of the common man. The most recent body of work (Signs & Wonders -2014 ) invigorates the longing for galactic travel, the world somewhat an alien-like place with nothing but time for outer space encounters. Blue Six’s distinct sound is profoundly beyond this life – probably offering a form of escape to the milky way to a world unseen. Jay Denes’s uniqueness in sound editing assures one that Blue Six has mastered the delicate tapestry of capturing a sound that is unobtrusive and stays out of the way of the vocal. Taking pleasure in simple activities such as writing, walking his dog, photography and cooking is a producer that has given many a place of comfort in his albums. Lauded with creating music that is timeless to the soul, Jay Denes considers music a formidable expressive art that is spiritual and potentially a transformative force.
Kayibiza: Warm welcome Jay and much appreciation for granting HeART-ART Conversations the courtesy of dialoguing with you.
Jay Denes: Happy to do it.
Kayibiza: How has family life been since your tying of the knot?
Jay Denes: Really great, I did the thing you see in romantic comedies. I married my bestfriend of 17 years. Should have done it sooner, if she’d have had me!
Kayibiza: With the world being in uncharted territory, what has been keeping Jay Denes sane during these unheard of times?
Jay Denes: Well, sane is relative, but I moved out of the city a couple years ago and live near a beautiful park. I try to walk my dog as much as possible, and like the rest of the world I’ve been overdoing Netflix during quarantine.
Kayibiza: Name five records you would choose to test a sound system that you have just completed setting up
KD Lang – Ingenue
Bryan Ferry – Boys and Girls
Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Stevie Wonder – Talking Book
Telomere – The Stellar Sea
Kayibiza: Please tell us about the birth of Blue Six and why this particular name?
Jay Denes: Blue Six was largely the result of me trying to make dance music I like. I’m not a fan of much of the genre, I decided I had nothing to lose by going my own way. I feel fortunate that enough people liked it to allow me to continue. The name just popped into my head, it has since taken on other meanings for me but at the time it was just a subconscious whim. Dave was thankfully down with the whole idea immediately, it took on a life of it’s own with us.
Kayibiza: What was the driving force or inspiration behind Naked Music’s Re-creation album?
Jay Denes: Re-creation was me trying to do a bit of the various styles we were known for in one place. Hence, it was released under the “Naked Music” moniker. It was around a label anniversary so it seemed appropriate.
Kayibiza: Having dealt with major commercial labels what would you say are the business lessons from these joint ventures?
Jay Denes: There are advantages to having help, but it comes at a cost. Accepting money always comes at a cost. More money, more people in your path. I’m not very good at navigating the kind of intra-personal relationships necessary to succeed in larger power structures. I’m lucky to have survived largely on the fringes of popular culture. I’m not sure I could have done it differently. Thankfully my partner Dave is really smart about such matters, because of his foresight and smart handling of things we came away as unscathed as possible.
Kayibiza: Known to have everyone in studio when working on projects. Given the current state of societal movement constraints, would you deem it possible to put a project together with everyone working remotely?
Jay Denes: I’m not sure I would, I really like to have my hands on the dials and talk to people at the same time. I think human interaction is very important. Dave’s moving nearby soon too, so I imagine we’ll figure something out. The plague will be over eventually, people will sing and hold hands together again!
Kayibiza: Your albums and record arrangement release an exuberant clear indication of thoroughness in production. What are your initial steps when contemplating a record or album?
Jay Denes: I don’t think I plan really, I just go with the flow. Often a theme becomes clear after I’ve been writing for a while. I think that’s mostly due to me writing about whatever I’m thinking about at the time. Generally with me, it’s some combination of the nature of reality, consciousness, and human relationships.
Kayibiza: Many don’t know that you have battled depression for a big part of your life. How is the progress in that regard and would you say that state of feeling has been instrumental in your choice of messages conveyed in your music?
Jay Denes: Depression never really goes away, it just waxes and wanes. Wrestling with it informs everything I do, music is no exception. It just makes life that much harder, and can be really exhausting. I sometimes think it’s the price of being in touch with one’s feelings. Perhaps that’s romanticizing it a bit, but I do think a lot of artists are missing a layer of protective skin. Some days it’s harder than others to not let the state of the world get you down. I’m lucky to have supportive friends and family. It’s not always easy.
Kayibiza: Technological advancements have their pros and cons. In relation to music, what would you name as major pros and cons in any aspect?
Jay Denes: I’m old enough to have lived through multi-track tape machines and big consoles through to the current computer based systems and amazing plug-ins and interfaces. When we started we had a really nice Studer 2 inch machine. It was a pain to deal with but it sounded great! I love all the new technology, but it definitely takes work to make it have mojo. That being said, I always view creation as somewhat separate from the tools of any particular time. For all the great new technology that’s around now, I think this is a particularly dismal time for popular music. Good writing really doesn’t care about what machines you have.
Kayibiza: What is some free advice to producers and creatives out there hoping to make their mark in the music industry?
Jay Denes: I think I’m pretty obscure at best, so I’m not sure I’m as qualified as some others to answer that question, but there’s a quote I like. I think it was Gore Vidal, but I may be wrong. “Write the book only you can write thereby making yourself indispensable.” There’s only one you, so discovering and realizing yourself is really the only path worth pursuing. The outcome will be what it will be.
Kayibiza: What are some of the changes you aspire to see in the world at large?
Jay Denes: All the cliches. Burt Bacharach got it right, “what the world needs now is love”. Things are so terrible here in America right now, I just want us to make it through this year and pray that we get a decent government. Humanity is on a precipice, democracy is at stake, it’s gonna take some real grace to get us through. The USA needs to look at itself in the mirror and right some profound wrongs, and at long last live up to the promise of our constitution.
Kayibiza: Thank you for this lifetime opportunity Jay Denes. I am conflicted in being a fan and interviewer so I will not ask if you working on releasing anything soon cause the beauty of Blue Six lies in its element of surprise. Take it easy and stay safe.
Jay Denes: Hopefully I’ll get it together soon, life’s thrown a bunch of curves over the last few years but I’m forging ahead. Who knows what the future holds…
Photos Credit: Jay Denes
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