Rising star Jas Kayser is one of the nominees for this year’s Jazz FM Breakthrough Act. The drummer, band leader and composer is also leading our latest Future Sound Live programme, collaborating with 11-18 year olds in Hackney. We grabbed five minutes with Jas for a chat about her own inspirations, influences and forthcoming album.
Why did you get involved with Future Sound and why do you think it’s important to work with aspiring young musicians?
I started working with Abram Wilson during lockdown when Jennie asked me to do a solo drum video as part of their 6 at 6 series. It is so important to work with young musicians through Future Sound because as the older generations we are responsible for their inspiration and motivation, to invest and pursue their passion for music. I was really lucky to have incredible music teachers through school and very supportive parents therefore I want to give young musicians the same guidance and support I had.
Who were the people that inspired and helped you to play music as a teenager?
I had amazing teachers as a teenager and my music teachers at school were unbelievably supportive. I also joined the National Youth Jazz Collective (NYJC) and later on the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy (JJJA) where I met the most inspiring mentors including Julian Joseph, Trevor Watkis, Tony Kofi, Byron Wallen, Alex T-French, Rebecca Nash, Dee Byrne, Laura Jurd to name a few!
Did you start out on drums or another instrument?
I started out with classical piano at around 5/6 years old but remember not enjoying it very much so I stopped. Then I was given the opportunity to learn drums at school. I loved that so much, and maybe the love of drums steered me to start piano again a year later but this time with a focus on jazz piano.
How do you balance playing, composing and being a band leader? Any tips for teenagers coming through?
It would be a lie if I said it was easy. I think it is really difficult and takes discipline to find time to invest equally on all the things you want to do musically. Although, it is a good challenge and definitely shouldn’t stop you from pursuing everything you dream of doing. Advice that I use for myself is to prioritise what is most important or necessary in the given moment. If you want to be both a band leader and side musician it is important of course to manage your time in a way that enables you to do both, but I do think sometimes one will be busier than the other in both directions at different times.
What tunes are you listening to most at the moment and why?
I love Cuban music and trad jazz at the moment. I am hooked on Pavel Molina, Pedrito Martinez, Angel Canales and also Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and Alvin Alcorn. The music just has so much feel and groove it all makes me want to dance.
What’s coming up for you through the rest of 2021?
I just recorded my album for a release coming out with Jazz re:freshed at the beginning of next year! I’ve also got a few gigs with my band with Boiler Room and EFG London Jazz Festival, plus I’m looking forward to going on a UK tour with Alfa Mist in November/December!
Help us support more young people through our Future Sound programme by donating to Abram Wilson here.