Jay Pray, real name Justin P Romanos, was born and raised in rural Connecticut, and had his musical start recording in his makeshift home studio, and as a regular in the local DIY scene. It was however when he went to Drexel University, and studied Music Industry, that he was given the nickname J Pré, a reference to his earlier band, ‘The Justin P Romanos Experiment’. Upon graduating he moved to Brooklyn, and re-established himself under the pseudonym, Jay Pray.
Although this is his first album as Jay Pray, it’s certainly not his first foray into solo work, having performed alone (since the sixth grade) than as part of a band. The eponymous album was produced by Brandon Bost at Electric Lady Studios, and is lush with synth-pop. Lead single, ‘Smile’, is matched with an emotionally gripping video. A woman sets up a projector in various locations, such as an empty swimming pool, and an old fence. She watches memories she’s shared with her husband, who we discover has Alzheimer’s Disease. The woman is initially happy, then remembers when they were younger, and carefree, such as when they jumped into a neighbour’s pool, or when they took a ride in a balloon. She goes to the hospital and her husband at first doesn’t know who she is, but she projects their shared memories all over the room, sparking his memories.
The video won Best Music Video at Silver Sound Showdown Festival, and Best Cinematography, and Best Editing, at Freedom Shorts XVI Festival. Directed and edited by Joe Staehly, the video uses a clever mix of both modern – RED Epic Dragon – and classic – Super 8 Film – to create a gorgeous clip which is at once emotionally devastating and arrestingly beautiful.