We had the good fortune of connecting with Jerika Hayes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jerika, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
Deciding to be kinder to myself. It may sound funny, but being self-employed and being a recording/performing musician is tough stuff, and often ‘success’ can seem like a mountain you can’t see the top of with no hope to climb. With my first album, I felt I wasn’t happy during a lot of the process of recording and promoting, and ultimately how it was received. I got caught up in the financial stress and the lack of what I deemed ‘success’. I am definitely my own worst critic and have wasted a lot of energy putting myself down for not living up to my own wild parameters of what ‘success’ is measured by. What I can see now is, babe you made A RECORD! I still have people discovering my music and being excited about it. Every comment, every message fills me with joy. So now, I try to celebrate the little victories as often and whole heartedly as I can, and I’m going into this next recording project with a very different heart. The setbacks, the missteps, the lack in some area or another, still hurts, but it isn’t crushing anymore, and I know I can survive just about anything. Knowing it’s okay to fail and be heartbroken, but being proud that you even got up and tried is what I have started to focus on. Every day being kind to myself, being okay with my imperfection, being prouder of my accomplishments no matter how small, has been a wonderful change and a decision that I still daily have to choose.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. My music is not easy to define and my friends and I always get a kick out of creating genres to describe it. Indie-jazz-rock is one, piano rock, jazz-goth-rock. My style is influenced by a hodgepodge of artists and genres, from Art Blakey to Joanna Newsom, Los Campesinos to Stravinsky, I pull from it all. My music often features horns which I arrange myself, and one of the things when listening back I feel the most proud to have written. I am also greatly influenced by nature and current events, and just the process of living and grieving and changing. It’s definitely not easy pursuing any kind of career in the industry and I’ve had quite the tumultuous relationship with it thus far. However, I’m really focusing on the art I’m creating and not the ‘success’ that may or may not come with it, and instead enjoy the process more. At the end of the day, I’m a musician who wants to connect and share some beauty with people around the world. I want to give to others what I have been given through my favorite music and remind people that love still exists and whatever you are going through you aren’t alone.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’d definitely go to the Museum of Jurassic Technology (which my friend Riley told me about) it’s such a bizarre kind of hidden gem and has this glorious rooftop garden sanctuary that is perfect for just sitting and thinking and soaking in the sun. To eat, I’d go to the Modern Times brewery downtown. It’s fun and all the food is delicious and vegan! I’d also probably swing by the big Out Of The Closet thrift shop in Echo Park to find some new digs, and there is also a cute bookstore like a block down, and plenty of other vintage shopping up and down the street. I’ve also always had a soft spot for dive bars like The Short Stop or Cha Cha Lounge, so I’d probably hit one of those (at least for a photo booth picture). Lastly, I know it’s not always easy to get in to, but I always recommend anyone visiting to go to The Magic Castle. I’ve been there a lot of times and let me tell you I am obsessed. I love kitsch and magic, and it’s even more spectacular around Halloween!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Jon O’Brien at the Music Box Studios in Fullerton. I was supposed to record my new EP back in April, but the world changed drastically due to COVID-19 before we got the chance to. He has always been so supportive of my ideas and creative process and is always willing to dive down some rabbit hole in order to find the sound I want or the studio I need and has been a saint trying to deal with family and clients and going virtual in the music industry. Throughout this entire time, when everything is uncertain, it has been so reassuring to know that someone is on my side, rooting for this project to happen, and trying their best as well to make some musical magic.
blue back-lit photo- Izzi Mattox
WFSU- Sarah Chavez
All others by Cory Linman