Newgate has a chat with music making, photo taking, software engineer JayWash.
Justin Washington. Music Maker. Photo Taker. Software Engineer.
What's your Story?
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I currently live in LA, working full time as a Software (QA) Engineer at Snap Inc. - formerly known as Snapchat Inc.
I’d say my interest in technology started with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, specifically, Donatello. Other than being literally obsessed with the heroes in half shells, I particularly remember the way Donny made it cool to be the brains of the operation. He was the super savvy, smart, gadget-freak who could beat the hell out of you if he needed to!
In high school, I started to delve more into music and the technical aspects behind the creative process. I was also good at math and science, so academia told me I should study engineering. I remember thinking that if I couldn’t make it in music, I could at least have the skills to be able to build software and hardware that musicians use. I ended up studying Computer Science at the University of Michigan, ultimately surviving the bouts with depression that came with the Engineering school. By God’s grace, and with the help of countless friends and mentors, I was able to land some crazy internships with some of the best tech companies in the world and worked full-time at Apple, Twitter, and now Snap.
What's your music and photography about? And what inspires you?
With music, I’m all about fusion. Coming from the gospel music mecca, the home of the legendary MOTOWN movement, the greatest hip hop producer ever, J Dilla, and the birthplace of techno, it’s hard not to absorb and be inspired by so many different styles. I’m a singer first, I started in church, then got classical vocal music training in high school. I’ve always played piano by ear and started pursuing production around that same time. I’ve always been inspired by music that sonically pushes conventional boundaries and lyrically makes you go, “man, what was he/she on when this was written?!”. Stay woke, though - I’m also as ghetto as they come.
I put out an instrumental EP merging and sampling Frank Sinatra, my hero, with my sonic coloring in production earlier this year called WASHINATRA. Ultra fusion vibes! If you peep it, you’ll get a taste of my creative thinking.
With photography, I just love making people look good, finding beauty in everyday life and telling stories with imagery. It’s just hella fun. I’ve been shooting for about 4 years now and just started taking it a bit more serious this year. I don’t know what genre will be my “niche”. I’m kinda all over the place right now, but I hope to shoot more musicians and artists, and eventually do creative direction with brands. I’m inspired by so many dope photographers out there on the interwebs, I’m constantly learning.
Most memorable part of your career so far?
I’ve had many high moments in my professional career like meeting Bill Gates at his house and meeting Steve Jobs in an elevator. But I’ll talk about music…
In April 2015 I won a producer competition hosted by grammy award winning producer, S1 who works with Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Madonna. Contestants had to make a track using sounds from one of his drum sample kits and S1 and his team judged my submission as the winning track. From this, I’ve been able to build a solid relationship with him and get guidance and feedback on my work. It was just so cool to get that validation from a creative who’s been where I’m trying to go in music, at a time where I was starting to really doubt myself and getting “lost in the sauce” of the music biz after moving to LA.
What's a typical day in the life for JayWash?
During the day, I’m working with some of the smartest young designers and developers in the biz to deliver fresh, delightful experiences and features with the Snapchat app (read: pressing buttons and collecting checks ha). When I get home, I’m usually making beats or editing photos until I pass out. This could last anywhere from 15 mins to 5 hours depending on how much gas I have left in the tank!
What are you most excited about doing next?
I’m getting married in a few months, so I’m super hype about that!
With my creative endeavors, I’m looking forward to putting out more of my own music, hopefully working with major artists and just capturing more dope moments with shooting.
"I love living in LA - there's always something creative going on here to plug into!"
Justin's watch of choice:
The Drummer Grand in Radial Brass
I chose this watch because I LOVE the big face! It’s the reason why fell in love with Newgate watches in the first place. My first watch was The Drummer Grand with the Arabic Dial. The black and gold combination is just classic - it’s sophisticated while not trying too hard.
See more of JayWash...
Click here to see the WASHINATRA promo video featuring The Drummer Grand with Arabic Dial.
Photography of JayWash by DevanOnDeck
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