NME Radar: Breakout

Jany Green: LA optimist making sun-drenched sounds for the downtrodden

Alaska-born, LA-based artist Jany Green's breezy optimism is providing the perfect antidote to the hellscape of 2020

Each week in Breakout, we talk to the emerging stars blowing up right now – whether it be a huge viral moment, killer new track or an eye-popping video – these are the rising artists certain to dominate the near future

As the year draws to a close, it is difficult to imagine a time without socially-distanced pub trips and forced virtual quizzing (please, no more). Jany Green, however, is here to instill some positivity power in the face of short-term setbacks.

Having grown up accustomed to Alaska’s dark and cold clime, it wasn’t until the beatmaker decided to break away from the negative influences surrounding him and make the move to LA that the Jany Green moniker was born. Inspired by the city’s eternal sunshine and laid-back lifestyle, the project took form as a means of expressing his own transition and quickly became an outlet to inspire joy and positivity amongst others.

The project also marked a sonic shift for the LA newcomer as he found the confidence to move beyond the hip-hop and rap he had grown up playing. From the psychedelic rock-inflections on ‘Little’ to the twinkling indie-pop melodies on ‘Suffocate’, Jany Green’s ambition knows no bounds as, in a year doused with loss and despair, he has managed to craft a melting pot of sounds sewed together by his ceaseless energy.

Following the release of infectious new single ‘Move’, NME jumped on Zoom with Jany Green to talk all things OutKast, eternal optimism and life-defining board games.

How did your move to LA inspire this project?

“There was a lot of negative stuff going on back in Alaska that I didn’t want to be around. The music I was making just didn’t make sense to me and I wasn’t enjoying myself. The turning point was when I got to LA and figured out that there is more to life than what I’d been doing. I was in a much more positive mental space and wanted to express that in my music.”

The story behind the Jany Green alias is pretty personal, isn’t it?

“Yeah, my parents played a board game to help them decide what to call me. My dad won so he got to choose the first name and my mum got the middle name. She picked Janal, so I decided to take that and make it Jany, and then Green is her maiden name. I never really had a relationship with my father, so I’m very attached to my mother and have always felt more like a Green.”

Did your mum introduce you to any influential sounds growing up?

“Definitely! She listened to a bit of everything, but OutKast was something big in our family that we would have on to all the time. I love it so much and really try to express that feeling I had from OutKast CD’s in my own music. There’ll always be the artists I grew up listening to, but I’m being inspired by new sounds every day. Dominic Fike is a huge inspiration to me. He played a big part in my decision to reinvent myself and feel OK with the music that I’m making. He gave me the confidence to just do it and not care what anyone thinks.”

You certainly don’t seem afraid to try something new…

“Absolutely! My background in music is mainly hip-hop and rap, but I’ve always dabbled in indie and rock just to try something different. I never really had a producer to execute that before, but luckily, I met Ralph Castelli and we just connected. He comes from an indie background but also loves OutKast, so we just meshed out sounds and came up with this stuff.”

Did you ever feel a pressure to sound a certain way or was it fairly easy to move away from your hip-hop roots?

“I did for sure. It’s not that I didn’t try to before, but it just never made sense. I always felt pressured into doing something different because that’s what I felt like I should be doing or what people wanted to hear from me. Coming out here and changing that felt like something I needed to do. I’m happy and having fun; I think things are working out because I’m not afraid to do it anymore.”

There’s endless positivity in the music – why is that so important to you?

“It just comes naturally to me. 2020 has been super difficult so I just thought it would be awesome to make someone smile and know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Your new single ‘Move’ does exactly that. How did it all come together?

“Me and my producer were in a room drinking some beers and listening to music. I remember him playing a beat and I just felt like I had to get up and move. He kept adding bits of sound while I was dancing around, and it all came together. It was just good energy the whole time.”

Jany Green’s new single ‘Move’ is out now