Jay Denton grew up in Texas listening to James Taylor. He started playing the guitar at the age of 10, and started writing music at the age of 12. Music has always been a love of his, but he didn’t always see himself working in the industry.
His moment of inspiration for creating original music fell in the in-between. He didn’t like playing other peoples stuff, so when he learned new chords on his guitar, he decided to write music to those chords, instead of playing someone else’s music.
“There’s so many elements to songwriting…the music side, the lyric side, the story side. What really got me into it was wanting to write something with words, to tell a story. It’s embarrassing, really. When I was in the 3rd or 4th grade I started writing these poems about baseball players, and I think that’s when I started writing lyrics. Haha!”
The shift from writing for the sake of learning music into recording occurred in high school when he and his friends started a band called “Lampost Street Rendition”, initially for talent shows in Texas, but no doubt planted the seed for what would be his future.
He has definitely come a long way from recording in a guy’s living room with his high school band all around one microphone. Jay now oversees and runs an entire studio that he created with a mission. Graduating USC with a degree in international relations, his eyes were opened in a big way to humanitarian disasters. He has collided the two with Endure studios.
Denton’s advice to fellow songwriters who may not know what to do with their music is get educated. The tools available are better than ever, and if you have a computer and a mic, you can start recording. He encourages to look on youtube to continue to learn how to properly use the tools out there today. Denton also spoke on just making music consistently, no matter how it turns out “The more willing you are to suck at something, the better you will become. The only way to avoid being terrible at something is to not do it. You have to start somewhere. Producing really helped me go to the next level as well.”
Music is therapy. It is also universal. We may not understand one another’s language all the time, but the expression of music is recognized no matter where we are, or what language we speak. Denton’s unique take on giving a voice to the voiceless and creating incredible music is what separates him in the industry, as well as a man.
“I went to South Sedan with Sam Childers, and the war was done. I have a heart for justice and to create freedom for those who may not otherwise be able to express themselves. We were kind of just chilling at this orphanage and I brought my guitar, so I started doing a lot of music stuff with the kids. That was far more impactful than this stuff I was capable of as a fighter. I wrote a little project there, came back to Nashville, recorded this dinky little 3 song project, released that, and all of a sudden my facebook started blowing up with people from that area that had been hearing this project. They were feeling a sense of hope from it, and so that birthed this.”
Endure Studios was born, he just didn’t see the full picture, yet.
Denton takes the responsibility musicians have in creating something that greatly impacts others seriously. “We under-estimate the power of music in peoples lives. Not just in our own lives, but it’s incredibly impactful culturally and cross-culturally.”
Denton went to Lebanon twice last year to work on a recording project and partnered with refugees, and those impacted by the war, to hopefully give them a platform to have their stories be heard as well as the talent they possess to be shown. This project combines a mixture of languages and musical styles, with artists from various countries including Syria and Iraq. Denton’s hope is that people can “benefit from seeing some of the strength they have gained through walking through years of hardship and find a platform for those stories.”
“One of the coolest moments was when I was in Beirut, I had met with this one artist who was a friend to some of the other singers I had been working with. They told me about her and she had this beautiful voice. She took a half day bus ride to come in to work and write with us one day. Towards the end of the day, I felt like she had something to say, or something to express so I literally just built a bare minimum track with a pad and a little bit of a drum beat and told her ‘just sing’, don’t worry about the words. She didn’t speak much English, but I can understand a little bit of Arabic. She started singing about her hometown, that it had gotten bombed and she was volunteering at the hospital, and she was just singing, and one by one everyone in the room started tearing up. I couldn’t understand most of what she was saying, actually I couldn’t understand any of what she was saying because she was singing in Kurdish, but I could understand the story without knowing the words.”
The record will be titled “For Home” in both English and Arabic. This 20-track album will be soundtrack stye, with a combination of 15 songs, and 5 musical interludes. Denton will release it in 3 chapters, the first Friday, February 20th, the second a month later, and the entire record a month following that. You can find this music on all platforms.
Denton is already planning his next trip to Columbia to continue his mission to create music on a global scale that can greatly impact and unite the world. I think all of us could use a little more unity in this world, and can’t think of a better way than using art and music to do so. Thank you, Jay, for forging a new path to bring freedom and hope to others. We are here with you and support you every step of the way.
Watch the full sit down interview with Jay below, and make sure you go check out this incredible record.