Hi StaJe! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?
I was working at Mercedes Benz at the time. A good friend of mine came out to a show that I did at some hole in the wall club. There may have been three people there, but I performed as if there were thousands. After the show, he asked me what my artist name was and back then it was just my name. Long story short, he gave me the name “Stage,” but I wanted it to be a little more personal, so I changed the “G” to “J” which is my first initial.
What city are you from and where are you based now?
I’m originally from Columbia, South Carolina, and currently living in Los Angeles, California.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?
I’ve always made music! Since I was a kid, I would sing to my mom everyday. I kind of got away from it when I was playing sports, but even then I still couldn’t shake the high that writing a new song gave me. I tried out for The Voice back in 2015 and made it to the third round. I put out my debut single, “Keisha,” back in 2019. It reached the Billboard Charts Global Top 100. That was more of a rap era for me. After rebranding, I’ve focused my sound and production more on the Indie Pop style. My latest release, “UP,” which was a slight remake of the classic, “Thriller,” by MJ, was released just a couple months ago. It too was on Billboard Charts Top 100 and iTunes Top 10 in Africa. Like I said, I have been doing music my whole life. I guess I can attribute that to my mom, Angel Payne.
Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
My upbringing was humbling. Being raised in a one parent household was a struggle at times, but my mom did the best she could. I feel like it has a lot to do with my sound. My sound is like a twangy southern sound. You can hear where I’m from by just listening to my voice. I’ve grown so accustomed to it over the years. I embrace my sound, and I embrace where it came from. I’m so grounded and humble, and always have been since the environment I’ve been in my whole life is full of this type of energy.
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?
As I described previously, a twangy southern sound. There’s a lot of soul and emotions there!
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
I love to run! I run ten miles, four days a week. Staying healthy with great eating habits and reading knowledgeable blogs keeps my mind fresh. There’s so much to life and I just want to live it, then turn around and talk about it in my music.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
Michael Jackson, The Weeknd, Prince , Jagged Edge, Luther Vandross.
Who would be a dream to collaborate with?
A lot of fans have been asking for me and The Weeknd to jump on something, so I’d definitely be down for making some magic with such a legend. That would be crazy!
What are some of your future music career goals?
I just want to tour the world and touch as many hearts and fan as I can. This would be my truest goal in life.
Now onto your release, “What You Like.” What inspired this song?
“What You Like” was written in collaboration with Tailor. We just wrote our own verses based off of our own stories. I heard the beat and just thought, “wow this feels good.” So, the first thing that came to me was my mom telling me to do whatever a woman wants to keep the house happy. So, I just ran with the theme and today you’re listening to it.
What is “What You Like” about in your own words?
“What You Like” is simply pleasing another person in your life by doing the things that you know they like. It’s one of the most selfless things one can do.
How did the music video for “What You Like” come about? What was your vision for the video?
Tailor and I had a few concepts, but one stuck with us. Having a music video themed after a high school talent night where there were some bombs on stage really puts a lot of pressure on the next act to not bomb. We just wanted to go out there and “not bomb.” Tailor was nervous backstage because this was his first live performance. It was my job to keep him cool and collected, so we could go out there and win the hearts of the crowd. At the end, we thought we would add a plot twist since the comedian was played by the talented actor Drew Hale.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from “What You Like?”
To simply be more openly caring for the people you desire in your life. It’s ok to give a little. There should be more of that going on these days because we all need love and a hug.
What’s one of your proudest moments of your music career so far?
I’d say just growing and performing has brought me a huge amount of fulfillment. The plaques and charting are cool accolades, but nothing feels as good as getting on stage and pouring your energy out into the crowd.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?
To keep going! I lived on skid row when I first got to L.A. Living there for six months and seeing what I saw brought me a great level of appreciation to just have clean clothes and a warm meal. I’m so grateful for all my relationships with people and to be able to share the same space with like-minded people.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?
There’s a lot going on with 2022 around the corner. I’m working on an international tour at the end of spring 2022. My next single is coming early February 2022. I have a few notable collabs releasing early 2022 as well. There are a few things that I’m excited about within the next couple months.
Where can we follow you on social media?