Creating sounds of joy and optimism at a time when the world needs it most, rising LA-based artist Jany Green makes music to brighten up the darkest of days.
Breaking free of the negativity that had surrounded him in Anchorage, Alaska, where he had grown up, Jany Green moved to Los Angeles. When he arrived in California, it gave rise to his current moniker and was ultimately an opportunity to start over.
From here everything began to click: “When I left and started making Jany Green stuff, my family fell behind it super quick,” he admits smiling. “They were just like: ‘this is so much better, this is so much more you. It’s more positive, you’re having a good time and we all love it.’”
Earlier this month, Green released his debut Lost in Love. It finds the multi-hyphenate come into his own; skillfully weaving between influences from hip-hop, indie and pop, whilst navigating musings on love and the dizzying emotions which accompany it. It has Green’s familiar bouncing groove with his energy as infectious as ever, but it takes on more serious themes than his previous singles had explored. “My music is very positive and bright and I love that, but at the end of the day I try to tell whoever’s listening that when this EP comes out hopefully they get a better understanding [of my perspective] but nothing’s always positive,” he tells me.
“I want to get it out there that you can get through anything no matter how bad it is as long as you want to get through it, keep your head up, and you are positive about it,” he tells me. “So the main thing around Jany Green is to show your feelings – no matter if it’s sad, glad, happy, anxious. I’ve been in all these places and I hope through the music the listener can understand that and gravitate towards it,” Green adds. He hopes that the new EP will give listeners this more encompassing takeaway. “For a long time a lot of people were like, ‘your music’s so positive’ and I love that – it’s a beautiful thing – but I don’t want it to feel like it’s always that way. Nothing ever is.”
Nothing is black and white, and whilst Green is thankful for being seen as a figure that brings positivity, his own life experience reflects the array of shades in between. Raised in Alaska which is known for its dark winters and long nights, his introduction to music was shaped by this environment in a mixture of ways. “Growing up [in Alaska] was filled with a lot of ups and downs; it’s really easy to get in a dark place when it’s dark there. That happened to me a lot at the time, but there were great times as well… I think the big thing with the music I make now, is it’s a step in leaving Alaska and finding this other type of sunshine and positive feeling by being out in Los Angeles. It put me in a zone of freeing myself from what I was back in Alaska; how I had put myself. I kind of broke free from this negative space that I was in and started feeling more positive.”
He’s keen to highlight the positive aspects of his situation though — not one to overly dwell on the experiences that brought him down. Instead, they all contribute to building a greater, more complex picture. A big part of these positive experiences come from his family who have been important in shaping Green’s current musical direction; each of them gravitating at an early age towards their own diverse influences.
He laughs and refers to it as a cliche, but tells me he’s been around music his whole life. As a child, he’d pore over his Aunt’s music collection. “I would steal her walkman and CD collection and just go through them. Outkast was one of the first ones, and Dungeon Family,” Green adds. He fell in love with them, along with the likes of Linkin Park and Bow Wow. Brightly textured, these influences can be heard in the soundscape of his latest EP. “My uncle listened to Chris Brody who was a very good trumpet player – there were no lyrics or anything but the music got me. It made me feel a type of way and I enjoyed that. It’s why today I still use instruments a lot in my music because it’s a good feeling to hear that.”
Gravitating towards music shaped much of Green’s high school years. For a while he was into sports, but he laughs and tells me he’s 5’9, which, for Americans and their basketball standards, isn’t the most favourable position to be in. “I also like to skateboard and stuff like that,” he adds, “I was mostly into music though – that was my go-to for sure.” Already captivated by the style of music, he began to dabble with rap and hip-hop prior to the Jany Green alias, performing at local parties and events in Anchorage — a more insular scene where “everyone knows each other”.
After high school, Jany was faced with uncertainty. His mother had been desperate to leave Alaska for Atlanta, and after he had graduated he decided on whether to go down the college route, follow her, or stay in Alaska. “College is not for me,” he shrugs, and instead he spent the following year in Alaska trying to figure out what he wanted to do before going to Atlanta too. “I went with her to do my music out there because it’s a better scene for it and I lived there for two years. It was horrible. It was hard to get connected with people out there because they’re so grouped up; they don’t want outsiders to come in. At least that’s how it was for me.” It didn’t put Green in the best space both mentally and creatively, with the two things being very much entwined for him, but the move did spurr on his choice to leave for LA. He knew it was a risk, realising that “there’s nothing else for me back home.”
Whilst LA clicked in a musical sense, inspired by bright seafronts and sunny days, aspects of its culture resonated much more in general too. Looking back, he tells me about how he had worked as a pool boy after moving, and about the eclectic characters he met in doing so. “Everyone there who would come did something in the industry or were working towards something in the industry, whether it be movies or music. Just connecting with people like that; it was like everyone I’m meeting is doing the same thing I’m doing, everyone’s grinding, everyone’s trying to accomplish their dream which I thought was cool to surround yourself with.”
Acclimatising to LA, he began to spend more time with Ralph Castelli, now a close friend and the producer behind the majority of Green’s records. They connected after a show in Alaska and formed a much closer relationship after they both moved to LA. He tells me about recording the anthemic “Little”, which, unsurprisingly, has become one of Jany’s biggest tracks. He checks first that I know what shotgunning is, though confirms no red cups were involved and laughs: “I just remember we were creating and we were super drunk and that was super fun because we were just jumping up and down.”
He’s always open to being sent beats, and recently went into the studio with Kenny Beats to create Lost in Love’s “Magic”. A dream collaboration, Jany enthusiastically details: “Our process was so quick as well, around 35 minutes. I didn’t think he liked it, to be honest, that’s why I was rushing a little bit, but I wanted it to sound good because I didn’t want to be an artist that he didn’t like,” he laughs, “but at the end of the day he liked it and we still talk. We went back into the studio and made another song and I’d call him a good friend now”.
Everything’s moving forwards, and things are still a little surreal for Jany. It was during the pandemic that his songs began to gain much more traction, and he finds himself in a changing position now. He’s more in the spotlight than ever before, and when I ask how he feels about this growing attention, there are mixed feelings. The role of an artist is ever-changing, and this is something Jany has been discussing more with Castelli.
“We always talk about hating social media and hating promoting yourself or marketing – all of it in general,” he admits. “It would be cool to just make the music and that’s it. But I understand that this is a business; music is only 20% of what you have to do to get your stuff out there. We talk about how small we are as artists. We don’t have a lot of followers and no one’s cosigning us like that, but I think our music kind of speaks for itself. At the same time we have the same management and our managers are like you have to market yourselves, you have to post, you have to go on TikTok, do this and that… Just understanding that now is like ‘yeah you’re right, but I hate it,’” he laughs.
Moving forwards, Green recognises how his own goals have changed. He confesses how he used to want to be a “big superstar”, but is now oriented around the impact and message that he can achieve through his art. “Now I feel like I’m doing it mostly because I love it; it’s a passion of mine. At first I was looking at numbers but now I don’t care as much for them, I just hope that whoever gets to and can listen to it can feel better; feel a little piece of happiness, calmness, or whatever the case may be. I just want to help whoever needs it.”
Lost in Love is out now.