Interview: Rogue + Jaye

Los Angeles-by-way-of-Nashville-based singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye has an adventurous spirit and an incurable case of wanderlust. “I love the Grateful Dead, and at a very early age, I gravitated to that culture of touring and seeing the world through music,” she reveals. “I’ve always wanted to see as much as I could in this life.” Taking up residence in various locales over the years, the singer was profoundly impacted by time spent living in Hawaii. “All the time that I was living in Nashville, I kept saying that one day I wanted to live near the ocean again,” she recalls. “Years would pass, and finally it was going to be a decade that I had lived in Nashville, and I just  said ‘I gotta do it, and I gotta do it now.’ For some reason, I have this crazy connection to the Pacific Ocean. Also, I needed a change; I felt like I have lived in an array of different places, everywhere from Atlanta to Athens to Flagstaff to Hawaii to Austin to San Diego to L.A., and I’d spend three years tops at a certain place. I spent nine years in Nashville, which says, to me, a lot about that city,” she continues. “It was time for me to shake things up a little bit.”

In the midst of contemplating big changes, Jaye’s publishing company, Rough Trade, had scheduled a co-writing session with Zach Rogue of indie rock outfit Rogue Wave. “ I was a big Rogue Wave fan, so I was like ‘Of course!’ We got together and wrote a song, we instantly clicked as people. We were singing these harmonies and looking at each other like ‘Oh! That sounds pretty good!’ and then went about our lives,” she explains. Several months later, the pair reconnected to write, and unexpectedly shared an epiphany. “It was this revelation of ‘You realize, we have to make a record.’” she says with a laugh.

On Friday, May 5th, the partnership, now a band called Rogue + Jaye, will release their debut album, Pent Up. “When Zach and I met, we connected on a friendship level. I felt very comfortable talking to him about what I was going through in my life at the time, and there was a lot—I’d been in a car accident a couple of years before, and physically, I was still healing from that,” she reveals. “I was also in a relationship that was not the best for me–I was continuously trying to end it and heal from that, but it kept reigniting. I would find myself back in this relationship, and it wasn’t right. He was really instrumental in helping me sort out all my emotions at that time. It wasn’t on purpose, it was just every time we got together, the conversation shifted to what was going on in my life because it was a really big life lesson time for me. That’s why the album is called Pent Up, there was all this stuff boiling and bubbling over in me,” she says. “It took having a musical partner like that to sort everything out, there was just so much.”

The album combines beautifully haunting harmonies with dreamy Americana sensibilities, influenced by their shared loved of Buckingham Nicks and choosing specific session players to join the duo in the studio. “We had no preconceived notions going into`the making of it. We recorded in about six days,” she recalls. “Everything took on a life of its own from there.” Pent Up was created in 2015, but after schedule conflicts and Jaye’s relocation to Los Angeles, the time was finally right to release the record.  “I’m excited to share it, give it away, and release all this stuff. I don’t feel like that happens until the music can be heard by everyone. Zach and I are already writing new songs. I’m ready to move forward,” she concludes. “We hope people enjoy it.”

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Susan Hubbard

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