Jay Pryor never planned on becoming a DJ.
The 23-year-old Irishman got his first big break in late 2016, snagging a co-producing credit on Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson's collaborative single "Just Hold On." At the time, Pryor was still relatively new to making house music and had a minimal resume. "I was quite overwhelmed in a good way," he tells Popdust. "Going from being unemployed making music in my bedroom in Dublin to then being part of such a special record was obviously a massive change."
Then, Pryor got to work. In the three years since "Just Hold On" debuted at No. 2 on the UK Charts, he's been churning out a plethora of electrifying remixes as well as his own dance-pop singles, like the bass-chugging "All This" and synth-swinging "Make Luv." The latter appears on Pryor's new EP, Finding Our Way—released on the seminal dance label Positiva—and he's not slowing down any time soon (he's already released another single, the soulful "By Now").
Calling to mind recent EDM chart-toppers like Martin Garrix, Tiesto, and his personal hero Calvin Harris, Pryor is quickly rising among the UK's sprawling dance scene. Below, read his conversation with Popdust about his ascent, his inspirations, and what the future of house music holds.
Why did you want to get into making house music?
I never used to listen to dance music. I was always into punk, emo, '70s rock, et cetera. It wasn't until I went on a trip to Spain with my friends when I finished school that I saw Calvin Harris perform. His performance inspired me to start listening to dance music more, and once I started listening, I couldn't get enough. I initially started creating drum & bass and progressive house, but it sort of naturally steered towards house music after attending a lot of house music events.
How does your creative process differ between writing an original song and remixing one?
They're both different experiences in my workflow. When I remix a song I normally loop the acapella in my production software and play some chords underneath until I'm happy with a certain direction, then I'll flesh out the sounds and everything else. When I write an original record, it could be anything that inspires me - a sound, a melody, a lyric, a chord progression, anything! It's normally a moment that inspires a melody or lyric idea and then the chords follow.
You're a huge Calvin Harris fan. What about him inspires you? What other artists do you take inspiration from?
Calvin Harris is my biggest inspiration in the studio. I find his music, his story, everything so inspiring. When I saw him perform a few years back, I had a moment of clarity which is the feeling I strive to give people with my music now, particularly for those who may be feeling a bit lost or uncertain. Inspiration and influence are really important to me when I'm making music. I hope I can meet him one day and let him know how much his music has influenced me! There's not that many other artists that inspire me at that level, but I love artists/bands like Kid Cudi, The 1975—they have such great messages.
How did you get into working with Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson?
I made a bootleg remix for an artist called Digital Farm Animals, and he sent it to the label he was signed to, Syco. They then invited me to London to meet and play them some music. I don't think I had much music at the time, but I remember them saying they loved my production and would love for me to work on some projects they had coming up, and "Just Hold On" by Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson was one of those projects. I'm eternally grateful to Steve and Louis for believing in my vision and for being so supportive throughout the whole process.
What artists would you like to work with next?
Well, I have a list. I'm a very visual person and I like to set goals and speak things into existence. So, I have a list of collaborators I'd love to work with. I would obviously love to work with Calvin, but I won't leave you with an obvious answer, haha. I really like the idea of unexpected collaborations. I want to announce a record and everyone to be like "that's not gonna work," and then kick themselves when they hear it. I'd love to write something with Kid Cudi; he's definitely one of my biggest writing inspirations.
The house-pop crossover has gotten so massive in the past decade. Where do you see house music going in the next few years?
House music is one of those genres of music that will always be a massive part of music, just like rap. It is so deeply embedded into our culture. I think it is such an important genre. Everyone should do their research on the history of house music, and you will see why. I really love seeing it develop all the time, and I think it will do only that in years to come. I would personally love to see more house/rap crossovers in the next few years.
What can fans expect from you next?
A lot of music in 2020. I have a vision board hanging above my studio with all my goals for the next few years – and those include an album and some big plans for shows, too!