Brandon Jay has come a long way since he was pickin’ and jammin’ as the guitarist for local bluegrass bands Part & Parcel and Hog MaGundy. With a new image and a nom de plume to accompany his new sound, Jay’s solo career has come to fruition in the form of ïnski, an indie-rock and alt-folk solo artist whose debut EP was released last month. The EP, titled Belated, is exactly that — something that’s been in the works for years and is finally ready to claim its rightful spot within the local music scene.
Having wanted to get a collection of his solo work recorded and released for years, the EP’s long-awaited release this year feels to Jay like a belated celebration. ïnski’s Belated is meant to be both reflective and introspective, with a recurring theme of realizing life lessons oftentimes later than expected. “The intended result was to create a listening experience that is emotional yet soothing, and dreamlike yet thought-provoking,” Jay said. The album certainly achieves that goal, containing six tracks, each of which is equally as evocative and powerful as they are made for easy, pacified listening.
Going from being a spoke on a wheel to the whole machine has been quite the transition for Jay, who up until ïnski was used to being a member of a band. New to a life of solo artistry, he says it’s been “so far, so good” for ïnski, though the biggest difference he’s experienced from a band setting is the lack of boundaries when working solo. Those lack of boundaries, which can somehow be both “liberating and crippling at the same time,” has changed his perspective on creating music. Shifting away from the improvisational elements of the contemporary bluegrass music he was playing with the bands, Jay says he “more carefully considers the story, the arrangement, and the composition of a song as a whole.”
While the lack of collaboration and brainstorming with bandmates has been challenging, Jay is enjoying writing and arranging songs that don’t necessarily “fit the mold” of a typical band setting. Vastly different from his past work with a band, Belated‘s trifecta of skillful musicianship, intelligent lyrics and handsome vocals is undoubtedly a change of pace but also a move in a good direction for Jay. ïnski is just another facet of Jay’s musical career that will build onto his resume of musical capabilities and display his diversity as an artist.
The next big step for Jay is to put together the arrangements for live shows. He’s been “toying with the idea of a trio including a guitar, cello and piano, as well as a sort of ‘stripped-down’ band feel with backup vocalists, piano, bass, live looping rhythms and two guitars.” For this newly solo artist, there seems to be no end to the creative ideas — “Maybe throw a horn section in there?” Living in Denver, which Jay sees as a musical city that has so much to offer, he says we’ll just have to see what happens for 2022 and beyond.