Jay Sean, the chart-topping London-born singer, will headline and co-host an event for disadvantaged adolescent girls in Monaco June 27, Soiree Extraordinaire De Monaco. The philanthropic event is a collaboration between Sean, ne Kamaljit Singh Jhooti, the United Nations, Serendipity Films and Shahrzad Amirsadeghi.
Sean, signed to Birdman’s Cash Money Records, will perform at the Hotel de Paris as part of the UN Foundation’s “Girl Up” campaign. “Girl Up” is dedicated to helping "the world's hardest-to-reach" young women and encouraging their future participation in politics and issues of global importance.
Sean will use the occasion to stage a live world premiere of the first single from his upcoming album, “I’m All Yours” featuring Pitbull, which will surface on the radio in coming weeks.
With this benefit and his upcoming album on the horizon, TheWrap talked with Sean while he took a rare day off in New York.
TheWrap: For those that don’t know, describe this event and explain your participation in it.
Sean: Before I got into music, I was a medical student studying to become a doctor and two years into my degree I had the opportunity to sign a record deal. One thing that never left was this need and desire to want to do something for humanity, for other people.
I was going to spend the rest of my life saving lives and you don’t go from there to just ‘Jump up and down people!’ There’s something that’s not fulfilled there.
And this particular charity?
It’s just a great cause. We live in a world where equal opportunities are not that equal and people must be actively pushed to allow people to have those opportunities. This presents an opportunity for girls to become global leaders, channel their energies and raise awareness and funds for the U.N. program.
I've never been to Monaco, so I'm excited.
So will you be headlining a dictator’s birthday any time soon?
No, I don’t think so. The only dictator I’ll be watching is the film.
You’ll be playing new music at the event, what are you working on between now and then?
At the moment I’m just doing spot dates since I came off a big tour and now the priority is plugging the next album and the single. It’s my fourth album and the first single is called “I’m All Yours,” featuring Pitbull. It’s an exciting time. The cycle begins again.
How have you progressed musically and commercially since your last album, which went platinum in the States?
This is the fourth album the world will get from me but only the second album North America will get from me. It’s the second album I’m putting out on Cash Money Records. America hadn’t heard my music until I got signed to Cash Money and it’s something new for America because you’ll hear a lot more of my R&B.
The last album a couple singles were more pop-heavy but the rest of the world is used to a bit more of my slow jams, my mid-tempos, R&B stuff.
Did you adapt your sound for the American market, thus giving it that poppy quality?
I’ve always done a mix of pop and R&B music. Some songs lean more towards the pop side, especially the up tempo stuff. When I write my ballads, the way I tend to emote is through a more soulful manner and it leans to the R&B side of things. It’s a nod to the early '90s R&B I listened to.
What were those influences?
I fell in love with soul first, with Stevie [Wonder] and songwriters like Lionel Richie. I don’t know why I was 11 years old and listening to Lionel Richie – probably because of my parents. That taught me something about songwriting.
In terms of how I sing stylistically it’s Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Eric Benet, Blackstreet, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans. The early '90s was a great era of R&B and music. People had to fall in love with albums and they didn’t have the luxury of listening to 10-second snippets.
We talked a bit about the how electronic music has seeped into pop music. You grew up in London where differing types of dance music have been popular for far longer than on this side of the Atlantic. Did those styles and their growing popularity in the U.S. impact how you went about your music?
All boundaries have become blurred in music on the whole, all genres. Pop is short for popular music and at any point in time, different genres of music become popular. It used to be rock, then hip-hop, then R&B, now it’s dance music.
All of these artists who exist on top 40 radio are borrowing the sound of production of what is current right now.
Who produced the album, or did it differ song-by-song?
The majority was produced by Orange Factory Music (OFM), the producers behind big hits like “Down” and “Do You Remember.” The way I look at it is, “If it ain’t broke…” I have a brilliant writing relationship with them and we co-produced every track together. There’s no ego.
The second single, that was produced by Afrojack and it is just literally insane. That guy is an amazing, amazing producer. His sound is enormous.