By Stephanie Amy Collazo
Singer-songwriter Jaiden, dubbed “The Cure” by Quincy Jones, has graced numerous stages alongside artists like Lauryn Hill and Jay-Z, but now he is coming out of the background and taking center stage. With the release of his latest mixtape, Shades of Grey, Jaiden has shown fans his personal music style. Through mostly word of mouth, approximately 4,500 fans downloaded the album in the first week. Jaiden has quickly become a YouTube favorite and has been featured on BET as a Music Matters Artist. Before leaving for his tour with Chris Brown, Jaiden took some time to answer a few questions about his experiences with record labels and what music means to him.
YRB: How did you get your start in music?
Jaiden: I started out writing and singing background [vocals]. My first gig was with Lauryn Hill, and from there I just started putting in for different artists and writing for different people.
YRB: What inspires your music?
Jaiden: I’m pretty much inspired by everything – life, stories, TV, movies, the slightest things could inspire [me]. It could be one word that I read from a conversation or something that I’m going over.
YRB: What role does music play in your life, what does it mean to you?
Jaiden: Basically, music was kind of like my little sanctuary, my therapy, my escape from everything, so it’s kind of been like the most important thing in life.
YRB: When did you decide to make the switch from backup vocalist to artist?
Jaiden: I always was kind of doing both, and I started working with different people while I was pursuing my own thing. I went back and forth with a couple different record deals and a couple different companies, but all the while I was writing for other people and touring with other artists. It was something I always wanted to do.
YRB: Did working with such big name artists make the transition easier?
Jaiden: It made it easier in some ways. I mean, obviously, being around artists that are doing it at that level you have to learn something, [so] I learned a lot and I picked up a lot. But it’s also like a double-edged sword. [After] I worked with all of them my expectations of what I want my show to be [went up]. I want things to be at a certain level, so I kind of have to, in my mind, realize that I am starting from scratch on my own.
YRB: You’ve worked with artists like Jay-Z, Diddy, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and John
Legend, what was that like?
Jaiden: It was incredible; it was just a big learning experience for me. Being that they all kind of have their own lanes and really stick to what they feel is great music, I learned a lot just being around them and sponging it all up.
YRB: You will be touring with Chris Brown this fall, are you looking forward to that?
Jaiden: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. He has an incredible show and he has some pretty amazing fans, so I’m sure it’s going to be fun. We’ve been doing a bunch of stuff over the last year and it’s been great; it’s just a great crew of guys, so I always enjoy doing his show.
YRB: Have you had any crazy fan experiences yet?
Jaiden: I’ve had a few. One time, I had a show and I got followed by a car full of girls basically damn near my house – that was one fan experience.
YRB: How have fans reacted to Shades of Grey?
Jaiden: I’m thankful that they really have responded well. They love it, and I have acquired a lot of new fans. I did something totally different, I went in my own direction and did what I really wanted to do, and when you do that you never know if people are going to respond well to it. You just know that it feels good to you. I’ve been really excited by the response. I think in a week we did 4,500 downloads almost, and that’s without anything except word of mouth, a few tweets and Facebook stuff, so it’s a great feeling that everybody is responding well to it.
YRB: Will you be releasing a full-length anytime soon?
Jaiden: Soon. Basically, Shades of Grey is pretty much an album; it’s just a free album so we are calling it a mixtape thing. But it’s mostly original material, so I’m kind of considering this to be a full-length that I’m just giving away for free. But I am going to do a full album probably next year.
YRB: Last we heard, two major labels were in a bidding war for you. Has there been any progress? What are you looking for in a label, what is going to help you make your
Jaiden: There are always situations, but for me, it’s more important to take the time to make sure they completely know how my projects should come out, what my music should sound like, how I should be marketed and all that stuff. So that’s the legwork that I’m doing now. I feel like I should get that done on my own so that when I get there I won’t have any more issues. Like I said, I’ve been signed before and I’ve had situations before that haven’t really panned out the way I wanted them to, so I am now kind of just making it foolproof. Like, you don’t have to question if there is a fan base because there is; you don’t have to question if this music will work because it will, so that’s where I’m at now.
YRB: What are you currently working on?
Jaiden: I’m currently on some writing projects for different artists, and I am obviously about to go on the Chris Brown tour. I’m promoting my mixtape, Shades of Grey. I have some shows coming up, I’ve [shot] a couple videos for it, and just keeping it moving – just continuing to build the movement.