Jay has been performing and studying music since he was a child. Now as Pink Nois (although he’s previously gone by Scott Free and MISFORTVNE), his music transcends explicit genre categories, explores existential ennui, and reflects the conflicts in his daily life.
Originally from New Rochelle, New York, he’s been living and going to school in Albany for the last two years. I caught up with him recently and asked him a few questions about his music, his inspirations, and what he’s got in store for 2019.
Elly Gibson: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to let me interview you! First question, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Pink Nois: If I do get out of bed in the morning, it’s God reminding me that I owe a lot of people a lot of favors that I finally have to make good on.
EG: A friend of mine introduced me to your music recently and I was completely blown away. You are incredibly talented. How did you get started with music?
PN: I started singing when I was super young, like about 5 or 6. When I was 8 years old, my dad put me into piano lessons to try to distract me from the trauma (which didn’t work lol) and I quit after two years and started teaching myself. I started listening to and studying music that I liked, especially gospel, ’80s synthpop, R&B, Jazz and some classical music. I would just listen to how things were sonically and paid attention to a lot of stereo imaging elements and just how songs like those were crafted in general until I had the means to craft my own music, and then would use my findings to be foundations for my own music.
EG: Do you consider Pink Nois an alter ego?
PN: I’m realizing that Pink Nois isn’t really a person, so it can’t be an alter ego. It’s almost like the energy that I tap into while being creative. I’m just named after my power source, kinda like Green Lantern.
EG: What’s the story behind the name Pink Nois?
PN: I was sitting in a Record Engineering class at The College Of Saint Rose when we started talking about pink noise, which is similar to white noise except the energy put out by the frequency is equally inverse to the signal. Two conflicting energies playing simultaneously to produce a calming sound just seemed a lot like me. I deal with a lot of conflict, but still try to make calming music. Thus, Pink Nois (without the e to avoid trademark conflict with another act) was born.
EG: You have a sound that is completely and uniquely your own. Listening to your music, it would be hard for me to describe it in two, three, or even ten words, really. At the same time, I can tell you have a long list of artists from which you draw inspiration. Would you say that’s about right? Who are your musical inspirations?
PN: I agree that the music can’t be described as a whole in a short amount of words because each song is supposed to be a different experience or chapter. With that being said, I have way too many inspirations. Each song is different and is supposed to have a relatively different mood, but the people I find myself emulating a lot are The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Childish Gambino.
EG: A lot of your work is a very intimate look into your psyche, your soul. And sometimes shit can get pretty heavy. Does vulnerability play a role in your music? Do you feel like being vulnerable like that helps you as an artist?
PN: Yeah, being vulnerable is the heart of my music, I think. From albums like FORTVNE up to now, I’ve been exposed to The Void: the inherently paradoxical embodiment of absence of everything. Living in that Void helps facilitate my creative processes. Allowing yourself to exist in that space of absolute Nothing is the perfect way to see only yourself and reflect.
EG: What other musical projects are you involved in?
PN: I’m in a few actually!
I’m in CEREBRO, which is a DIY Neo-Soul/Hip Hop collective that includes Gracie Lineham, NXNES, and Thai. We’re trying to get other artists in that vein to join to, either in or out of Albany. We’ve made contact with artists like The Age, Soo Do Koo (who is basically my sibling) and Ayana Aura, who isn’t based in Albany.
I’m in Pointy Thingz, which is just the mythical Lone Phone Booth and I. We usually just make songs about how boys suck. We have nothing out yet and are long overdue to make something.
I’m in a rap group called Reckless Abandon (this is our tentative name until we figure out a real one and actually make music and stop fooling around) with Alex Hayes, AKA Soo Do Koo, as well as a couple of childhood friends of mine from New Rochelle. Their names are Holden, Lucas and David, but their rapper names are DANTE, Bobby Clive and The Hermanator. Alex, Lucas and I usually produce the beats that we make for our songs.
EG: How long have you been in the Albany area? What brought you here? Has Albany been good for you in terms of shows, collaboration efforts, meeting like-minded people, etc.?
PN: I’ve been Albany for college for about two years now. After all my options, The College Of Saint Rose really caught my eye and that became my final choice. Albany has done nothing but receive me with open arms — something I never really had in my hometown — and that has made me extremely grateful. It’s given me a lot of collaboration opportunities, and a lot of them are shared between the new friends I’ve made here and I. I don’t really like to collaborate with other artists in person that I don’t know because it feels more like I am giving a performance and trying to show that I’m worthy enough to be on their track rather than just being creative with another person. I’ve realized that I also have a bad habit of not saying no to the artists I hardly know, thus obligating me to work with them (thanks, social anxiety!) and not working with those I’m closer to because I feel comfortable enough around them to say no, or say yes to a collab, and then take forever to finish it. It’s a weird scenario.
EG: What are you like when you’re performing live? How do you prepare for a show?
PN: Preparing for a show is relatively easy; just sitting at a piano or sitting in my studio and playing everything three times in a row until it’s perfect. Then, at the show, it’s a different story. I don’t even know why I practice because it really all just depends on whether or not I can manage the adrenaline, my mental state, the Pink Nois and trying to grasp the right lyric at the right time during a song. Every set is drastically different because the combinations of which of the four factors I can manage during the performance is always different. Very rarely do I have them all at 100%.
EG: What’s a big goal you’d like to accomplish in 2019?
PN: I would like to complete the first full-length Pink Nois album that continues the large story I began telling in my albums since FORTVNE, back when I was MISFORTVNE.
EG: What’s on the horizon for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
PN: Whenever I think of that question, it scares me. I honestly do not know. In order to escape that fear, I’ve taught myself not to care. The potentiality of my best case scenario, becoming famous and creating all over the globe, helping mass amounts of people at once, is not too far-fetched. Neither is the eventuality that I could lose everything and become homeless and roam around looking for gigs so I can stay alive and help one person I meet at a time. In the end, I am doing what I was made to do.
EG: What are some upcoming shows you’re excited about?
PN: I’m performing at a house venue in Troy called Quier’d Haus on March 15th. It’s going to be a night for people in the LGTBQ community, as well as people of color. I’ve been trying to be more inclusive in my music and make venues where I perform in an especially safe place for disenfranchised youths, so I’m glad that I have this opportunity to be a part of something like that.
EG: Is there anything else you want to add?
PN: I love spicy tuna roll.
You can catch up with all things Pink Nois on Instagram (@pinknois), Twitter (@realpinknois), Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and his website. His next show will be on March 15 at Quier’d Haus in Downtown Troy.