5 Takeaways From Jay Wheeler’s Chat on Billboard TalkShopLive

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At a fan meet in Fresno, Jay Wheeler was moved by a story of a girl who shared that his music had prevented her from ending her life. This heart-wrenching testimony and others helped inform Música Buena Para Días Malos, his seventh studio album. “The fact that my music is doing that, that’s my grand prize,” he told Billboard Español.

With 13 tracks exploring themes from love (“14 15 de febrero”) and regret (“Admítelo”) to empowerment (“Maquillaje” ft. Noreh) and self-discovery (“Historia”), the singer’s album acts as a sonic refuge, the singer’s album acts as a sonic refuge, dancefloor-ready in some parts and offering solace and inspiration in others. He extends this therapeutic ethos to his merch, with a sci-fi twist: the aim is to parallel the auditory comfort his music provides with tangible memorabilia from hoodies to t-shirts, stickers and trucker hats.

During a conversation on Billboard TalkShopLive, the Puerto Rican star discussed how he wants to provide a “safe place” for his listeners through his music, his upcoming U.S. TRAPPii tour which kicks off on June 13 at the Madison Square Garden and more. Here are five key takeaways from our discussion with Jay Wheeler, in his own words.

His music helped save someone’s life

When I was in Fresno, I was gonna be taking pictures with [fans]. This girl came [up] and she was crying and crying. I asked her what happened, and she said that she was gonna commit, you know, and she heard my music on the radio and stopped. Everybody [that was there] stopped to hear her story. I wanted to make that moment special for her. We hugged her and gave her merch. We took a whole bunch of pictures and I know for a fact that she went home happy.

Visually [with my merch and videos], I want you to feel the same way as you’re hearing it. The way I feel when I hear my music is like I’m going to a different world, where my spirit just left my body. This therapy is helping me just to forget the world, forget the problems, and just listen to that good music. That’s why my album is called Good Music for Bad Days [Música Buena Para Días Malos], because that’s all I was trying to focus on, making people feel like they can have a place to escape, or a safe place like music.

Bad Bunny impacted his career

I don’t want to sound like I’m fanboying but I do love Bad Bunny. I love how he merchandises his brand and how he [navigates] the music industry, because he’s very different. I think he opened the door for different people. As soon as he came out, trap [blew up]. 2016 was the era of trap, then Bad Bunny stepped away [from the genre] for a couple of months. Then he came back with something different, “Estamos Bien” and “Si Estuviésemos Juntos,” and sad songs. 

I think he opened the door for me — because as soon as he started doing that, I started [rising]. I was already making romantic music, but nobody was listening to it, because trap was the main focus. But as soon as he did [more vulnerable songs], he opened up that door. People started to look at my work. He showed the world that being different is not bad. 

Faith, Loyalty and working with DJ Nelson

It’s complicated being a new artist. Everyone sees you as a dollar sign, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing… The people who want to sign you don’t know you; they know the product you are offering. If they want to sign you to make more money with you, it means your product is doing good. At the same time, you have to be very careful, because not everyone has good intentions; some people are just trying to take all the money. Trying to see what type of [contract] we were going to sign was very difficult, because almost every single person wanted me and not my team.

I am a very loyal person — I did not want to let go of my team. And then I met DJ Nelson in his studio. I went with my team and I told him, “This is my team, I don’t want to leave them.” He told me, “If you had come without your team, I wouldn’t have signed you.” So I was like, okay, this is the place. Besides that, I also had asked God, “Father, I want to sign where you are.” And the first thing [DJ Nelson] told me was, “my children are Christians,” so I was like, “This is the way.”

How he overcomes fear for future ambitions

Every time I do these types of tours, the only thing that makes me a little bit nervous or stress — not even the shows — is the traveling. I’m scared of airplanes. Really. I’ve been traveling my whole life. That’s the only part that gets me a little bit stressed out. Mentally, I try to prepare myself. Every time I have to make those sacrifices, I think about my future kids. I’d be like, “You know what, I gotta do it for my future family and the future.” Eventually, I want to have a whole bunch of kids. My wife wants two, but I’m trying to convince her to have more.

He loves performing with his wife Zhamira Zambrano

If I had to choose one [song I enjoy performing live], I would probably say “Dícelo,” with my wife. The fact that people love a song that I have with my wife is beautiful. Sometimes you can do songs with the person that you love, and it probably doesn’t go that well. But every time that song is [performed], people go crazy, people go absolutely wild. Sometimes what people do a lot of songs and then eventually get a hit. It’s funny because the first time we collaborated on a song, it became a hit. People loved it.

She’s an artist too. She’s doing a whole tour on her own. We try to be together everywhere we go, as long as I can and she can. I admire her and I always support her no matter where I am.

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