Amy Jay Crafts An Immersive Wonderland of Storytelling on ‘Awake Sleeper’

With a delicate voice, a strong viewpoint, and a mellow guitar in hand, Amy Jay is quickly making a new for herself as one of the most promising voices in modern folk. And she has finally unveiled her debut full-length, Awake Sleeper: an exploration of the human experience that observes relationships and the lack thereof, the busy atmosphere of a big city and the quiet that comes when we’re alone, and the true feelings that arise when you turn inward and start being honest with yourself.

“It feels… freeing,” Amy tells TREMG. “Like finally letting go of something I have been holding onto for years (which I have). Like I can take a step forward and be proud of what is behind me. I can move on now and have something to say about what has been going on. I can finally process the last few years with fans.”

Awake Sleeper is an immersive dreamland of an ethereal sonic landscape that supports fear-filled, emotion-driven lyrics influenced by pensive singer-songwriters like Gia Margaret, Mitski, and Phoebe Bridgers. Even though it was made pre-pandemic – recording wrapped in February 2020 – it captures the chaotic emotions and quiet anxieties that took hold of so many of us during lockdowns as we sat at home glued to the news. 

“It certainly did not feel right to release an album during the height of COVID, with so much uncertainty around how I could promote and play it,” Amy explains. “That was my compass–it wasn’t so much of asking if this is the right time, but if it felt like the wrong time. And it didn’t feel so wrong anymore by summer 2021. Now that it’s out, it is strange how many people have told me the album seems relevant to the heightened pandemic years, even though it was recorded prior. So I guess, in the end, it was as right as it could be.”

The album opens with the introspective “Lucid Dreaming,” which we at TREMG previously described as “a thoughtful track that explores memories and maturation through the lens of public transport.” It kicks off the project by immediately throwing the listener into the world of quickly-moving cities before taking a detour into childhood memories – something she illustrates in the video with a mini-me recreating some of her favorite youthful moments. 

“Call My Name” describes the fallout of a relationship with tender details like a fight in the kitchen before Amy questions: “are you satisfied with the choice that you have made?” The gentle strum of a guitar turns into a string-tinged manifestation of the frustration and intensity in the lyrics, marking one of the most poignant moments of the record and showcasing Amy’s thoughtful consideration of how to produce around her stories.

“‘Call My Name’ took the longest, by a long shot,” she says. “It was the hardest for me to summarize how I felt, and I was changing the lyrics up until the day we recorded vocals. I wasn’t sure what I was saying was clear, but Jon [Seale, producer] helped me get unblocked and go for it.”

The piano-driven, synth-accented “Monster” features her favorite lyric on the project: “She feeds well on anxiety, a balanced diet of fear and control.” This is one of the moments on the album that truly feels the most “pandemic-era,” perfectly describing the feelings people felt as the world shut down and life as we knew it changed forever.

“I think this summarizes my inner struggle so concisely,” Amy shares. “There’s a disassociation with the dark parts of me, a feeling I am out of control but also completely aware and probably in more control than I realize. It’s a conversation with the dueling parts of myself, and most every motivation can be traced to fear if I dig deep enough.”

From the guitar-driven production to the gently-delivered lyrics brimming with honesty and vulnerability, Awake Sleeper feels less like an album and more like an intimate live set with an engaged audience, or a conversation with an old friend reminiscing on a simpler time. Amy creates such a specific atmosphere that will be unlike any record you’ve heard before, thoughtfully crafted and tailored perfectly to Awake Sleeper and Awake Sleeper only. 

“We captured these songs before time seemingly stopped for years,” she reflects. “And now that it’s out, I don’t feel as guilty wanting to play shows and connect with people over the album because we need human connection now more than ever… I really hope that whoever is in a lonely season because of COVID and listens to the record knows that we can be lonely together, knowing we are never alone.”

“Lonely together” is possibly the best way to summarize the album in succinct terms. Tracks like “Commute” and “Lucid Dreaming” describe the hustle-and-bustle of New York with a sense of disconnection, capturing how even pre-pandemic, people lost touch with each other while focusing on things that don’t matter quite as much as how we impact and engage with those around us. Awake Sleeper is a reminder of the power of human connection and the importance of being mindful of our environments and peers. 

(c) Katrina Sorrentino

You can find Awake Sleeper on your favorite streaming services now, and connect with Amy Jay on Facebook, Instagram, and her official website! Keep reading for more from our Q&A with the thought-provoking singer-songwriter.


Congrats on your debut album, Awake Sleeper! How does it feel to finally let the project out into fans’ lives? 

Thank you! Wow, yeah, it feels… freeing. Like finally letting go of something I have been holding onto for years (which I have). Like I can take a step forward and be proud of what is behind me. I can move on now and have something to say about what has been going on. I can finally process the last few years with fans. 

How did you know now was the right time to debut with Awake Sleeper and introduce your work to the world?

It certainly did not feel right to release an album during the height of COVID, with so much uncertainty around how I could promote and play it. That was my compass–it wasn’t so much of asking if this is the right time, but if it felt like the wrong time. And it didn’t feel so wrong anymore by summer 2021. Now that it’s out, it is strange how many people have told me the album seems relevant to the heightened pandemic years, even though it was recorded prior. So I guess, in the end, it was as right as it could be. 

You finished recording Awake Sleeper in February 2020, just weeks before COVID-19 took over the world. What is it like to get to release it now that the pandemic is (hopefully) waning down? 

I am so glad I was able to record it before everything shut down. Who knows when these songs would have been recorded and given the chance to come alive? We captured these songs before time seemingly stopped for years. And now that it’s out, I don’t feel as guilty wanting to play shows and connect with people over the album because we need human connection now more than ever. 

Since it’s been two years since you finished the recording process, you’ve lived a lot of life afterward that could serve as inspiration. Did you go back to edit anything during the pandemic? Does it feel strange to release it now, or does it feel like a celebration of what you’ve gone through?

I did write a few songs that I released during the pandemic, but I did not go back to Awake Sleeper. For one, it was a hugely collaborative process that logistically wouldn’t have made sense to go back and change. But even if I could have, over the years, I have come to believe that once a song is recorded, the recording is capturing a moment in time. I see it as a time capsule. This has helped me overcome the perfectionist tendencies in me and honor where I’m at, since creative projects are never really “done.” And for that reason, I can celebrate where I’ve been now that it’s out. 

(c) Katrina Sorrentino

Which songs on Awake Sleeper took the most and least time to make? 

“Call My Name” took the longest, by a long shot. It was the hardest for me to summarize how I felt, and I was changing the lyrics up until the day we recorded vocals. I wasn’t sure what I was saying was clear, but Jon helped me get unblocked and go for it. The shortest one was “Self Deprecation” – the main part of the recording is the literal phone demo, so we didn’t even need to record it. “Monster” also didn’t take that long to write, and during the editing phase, it became clear to me that the two song ideas I had written for that track made sense as one song with two sides.

Something that struck me about the production on Awake Sleeper is that each song has either a calming acoustic or a mellow electric guitar, making it feel like an intimate live set where the audience can really connect with you and what you’re saying. Does your songwriting process typically start with just you and a guitar?

It absolutely does, and that is encouraging to hear. I write the bones of the song (melody, lyrics, chords) with my notebook or phone and either a guitar or piano. It’s only in the studio that everything becomes lush. 

Who are some artists that influenced Awake Sleeper, lyrically and sonically? 

So many… but to name a few: Tomberlin, Gia Margaret, Big Thief, Angelo De Augustine, Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Laura Stevenson. I could go on forever. 

Is there a certain song or lyric that means the most to you on the album?

From “Monster:” “She feeds well on anxiety, a balanced diet of fear and control.” 

I think this summarizes my inner struggle so concisely. There’s a disassociation with the dark parts of me, a feeling I am out of control but also completely aware and probably in more control than I realize. It’s a conversation with the dueling parts of myself, and most every motivation can be traced to fear if I dig deep enough. 

(c) Katrina Sorrentino

If it weren’t for COVID-19, what would your dream album release cycle/promotions look like? 

I would have probably played way more shows and, in a perfect world, had the capacity to apply to festivals and go to other cool opportunities with other creatives. If I could have actual control over my career, I would have loved to have a full team behind me helping me along, but regardless, so much is out of my control and I still would give this music career my all if COVID happened or didn’t happen. 

We at TREMG love getting to know new artists who haven’t gotten the success or attention they deserve. Who are some of your favorite underrated artists at the moment?

Son of Cloud (my producer), The Western Den (and their other project, Deni), Kathleen Murray, Jason Howell, Olivia Barton, and Annie Leeth (who I am playing a few shows with soon!)

What can your fans look forward to in the rest of 2022?

The music video for “Lucid Dreaming” will be coming out in a few weeks! After that, more collaborations, hopefully. I am a bit tired of going at this alone the past couple of years, so I plan to play shows and write or sing with songwriters I love.

Note: As of publication, the “Lucid Dreaming” music video has been released. 

Is there anything else you’d like to mention that the questions didn’t touch on?

I really hope that whoever is in a lonely season because of COVID and listens to the record knows that we can be lonely together, knowing we are never alone.

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Madison Murray View All →

Hi! I’m Madison Murray, a pop culture and music writer who also loves writing about lifestyle and fashion. I have credits on sites like TREMG, The Honey POP, Genius, Young Hollywood, and Audible Addixion, as well as my own Melodic Musings blog. Find me on socials @madisonmwrites!

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