Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Jelani Aryeh

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Jelani Aryeh over Zoom video! 

21 year old Filipino/African-American artist Jelani Aryeh is back with his highly anticipated debut album, I’ve Got Some Living To Do. The record showcases Jelani’s abilities to effortlessly transcend genres from indie to pop to rock to alternative and more.

In an era where albums are dominated by commercial hits and a whole lot of filler, Jelani has crafted a meaningful body of work that reimagines classic influences through a modern lens. Front to back, I’ve Got Some Living To Do is filled with nostalgia, warm energy, and a comforting spirit.

Previous tracks like “Stella Brown”, “Marigold” and “From These Heights” have already amassed Jelani 55 million streams and an army of fans around the world. Jelani was recently the first artist on the cover of Spotify’s new playlist, “Today’s Indie Rock”.

Jelani Aryeh crafts timeless songs with an emotional depth far beyond his 21 years of age. He re-imagines the classic sounds of indie rock, alternative, and folk through the lens of a mixed race kid who grew up in suburban San Diego. Standing out from the crowd in an era of memes and social media virality, Jelani brings an emotional depth, spirituality, and substance to his songs that belies his years.

Growing as a young adult and an artist, Jelani is expanding his sonic palette, working with new collaborators, and writing with newfound confidence about matters of the head and the heart. “For a lot of kids my age, I see that we numb ourselves in order to carry on with our lives. I want to make people take a step back and reflect on those times where we turned the switch off,” Jelani says, of his intent for this album.

I’ve Got Some Living To Dosees Jelani exploring new sonic territory. “It’s always been a dream to make a guitar driven record. I think it stems from meeting my ex-girlfriend and her putting me onto bands like Cage The Elephant, The 1975, and Milky Chance,” recalls Jelani. “I fell into a rabbit hole of indie rock, psych rock, noise rock, glam, and folk. That’s just what I like listening to now. Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Wilco, Radiohead, Love, The Beatles. It just consumes me.” 

Back in 2019, Jelani released his debut EP, Helvetica via No Matter, exploring topics like pursuing music over a promising football career, his mixed race identity, and following his dreams. The introspective and innovative project racked up millions of streams and support from tastemakers ranging from Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, who premiered lead single “Patagonia,” to Rolling Stone magazine, OnesToWatch, Complex, and many more.

Jelani spent 2020 working on new music and shared the single “Stella Brown,” an upbeat ode to brunettes and young love, which resonated worldwide. It became his most successful release to date with over 21 million streams and support from DSPs, radio, and press. From the cover of the Lorem playlist on Spotify, to video profiles with Verizon and Complex, to live performances for Tidal, and radio support from Apple Music, “Stella Brown” was everywhere.

This past March, Jelani showed another side of his upcoming album with the release of the sunny, aspirational single “Marigold.” The momentum kept building with support from Apple on the cover of the New Music Daily and Superbloom playlists, alongside an interview with Zane Lowe announcing the album, support from Spotify on the cover of Lorem, and tastemaker radio spins on Sirius XMU, KEXP, and more.

We want to hear from you! Please email [email protected].

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