Jae (Jae Jin Music) sits down with a cup of iced coffee, a gray jacket, gray pants, and dark combat boots. His voice is two octaves lower than you'd probably expect and he carries a complete east-coast vibe even as we're sitting in the Los Angeles sun. You can tell he's got soul even before you hear him sing.
A LOT OF MY SONGS, THERE'S A REDEMPTIVE ELEMENT. EVEN WITH SOME OF THE SONGS THAT HAVE THIS IDEA THAT I'M STRUGGLING AND I'M SUFFERING - THERE'S ALSO THIS WILLINGNESS TO LET GO. AND WITHIN THAT PIECE OF LETTING GO, THERE IS A REDEMPTIVE MESSAGE."
I. We discuss his latest new single, Heart Smiles, which released last Friday (7/28/17):
"Yeah, so this is going to sound extreme but this is the first song where, once it releases, if I die, I'll be completely happy. I've never said that about any of my music before. It doesn't mean that this is the perfect song, but it's a song that I'm extremely proud of, because it came together where musically, lyrically, composition-wise, everything had its perfect timing."
You can tell Jae has an "all-in" personality almost immediately upon meeting him. He does things if, when, and because he believes in it. Nothing less. There's a confidence that comes when he speaks.
It's not arrogant - just a sureness that what he's doing through his creative work feels like the right God-given thing.
II. "In essence, [Heart Smiles] is about how sometimes you don't have to end up with a person, or have the relationship end up a certain way to be 'happy.' For it to still be love, it could be that you just earnestly want that other person to be happy. If they give you heart smiles, and you give them heart smiles, you don't necessarily have to have that end up in marriage or a romantic relationship. It could've been the wrong timing, whatever it is, but just to earnestly want them to be happy in life. The hope that you left them a better person than you found them, that is the crux of the song."
III. Heart Smiles embodies Jae's walk with God. He does not necessarily write Christian music in a traditional sense, but he still experiences God all over his songs:
"In my mind, the best way to reflect God is to reflect yourself, since we are made in the Image of God. I think some people are like, 'It's reflect the best version of yourself,' which is ideal, of course, but at the end of the day we're not perfect. I think that's the thing too, is I don't think that as an artist you should be afraid to reflect the worst part of yourself."
"Especially in art, if there's a reflection of me struggling with something, it's relatable because we're all imperfect. There are these elements where sometimes the songs that are the most relatable, are often the most brutally honest."
"That's a big thing. And I like to think that, a lot of my songs, there's a redemptive element. Even with some of the songs that have this idea that I'm struggling and I'm suffering - there's also this willingness to let go. And within that piece of letting go, there is a redemptive message."
IV. People connect with your failures more than your successes. It's simply an age-old fact.
But, we paradoxically live in a time and a place where always appearing your best - whether that be online, or in real life - seems like the basis of social status. It takes profound vulnerability to reflect honesty within a creative practice. We let Him use our imperfections and struggles - the good, the bad, and the ugly - to reveal the depth of His compassion. And in the end it paints a more true and beautiful picture of God.
Jae's new song, Heart Smiles, is about the power of selflessly loving someone regardless of the outcome. At its core, love assures the continuity of heart smiles throughout life.