10 October 1978|
|Died||25 September 2003
In 1999, aged 20, he produced a demo of original songs, recorded with his older brother Eddy. This secured him a record deal with EMI-backed Food Records, and led to the commercial releases in 2000 of the critically acclaimed EPs Four Songs and Friendly Fire.
The next release was the debut album Draw, from which three singles were taken: "Let Your Shoulder Fall", "Please Don't Send Me Away", and "Call My Name Out". "Please Don't Send Me Away" caught the attention of the media, who drew comparisons between Jay and Nick Drake. Further press articles grouped him with Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley and David Gray. GQ called the album "one of the most impressive debuts of recent times".
However, after Draw was recorded, Jay’s creative influences were starting to change, and he was developing wider musical interests, partly due to his involvement in the club scene in Nottingham, the city to which he had relocated shortly after being signed. In later interviews he cited hip-hop as a source of inspiration.
At the tail end of 2002 Jay parted amicably from EMI, and began work on the songs which would form his second album. However, the work was not completed, as Jay died suddenly in the early hours of 25 September, in an unexplained fall from an apartment block in London.
Initially, assumptions were made regarding the manner of the singer's death. Information made available to the public was a statement released by Jay's family, which said that he had been alone at the time. However, later it was revealed that in fact on the night of his death other people were present, and one of these is still being sought in order to obtain a statement. Jay was not known to have been depressed, and he had spoken cheerfully to his family earlier the same evening. An inquest into his death returned an open verdict.
In August 2004, the independent record label Jays Music, with the backing of EMI, released an album of Matthew Jay rarities and early recordings. The collection, Matthew Jay: Too Soon, showcased many of the songs which brought the artist to the attention of EMI in the first place.
On 24 September 2006, "What Would Love Do Now?", one of the songs Jay had been working on shortly before his death, was released exclusively for download.
In June 2007, EMI gave the rights to the videos of all three Matthew Jay singles to Jay's family, and they in turn decided to make the videos available for download, and declared that all profits from the sale of these video downloads should go to the UNICEF Born Free from HIV campaign, as UNICEF was a charity that their son had supported.
Over the next 12 months, Matthew's friends and family worked together to complete the songs Matthew had left behind. Taking the recordings of vocals and acoustic backing which they had found on Matthew's computer after his death, they slowly and considerately built full songs upon the framework he'd provided, until they had a dozen finished tracks. The result was 'Further Than Tomorrow;' an album of previously unheard material. This, together with a single 'Our Time,' and a new accompanying video, were released in the summer of 2008.
The works met similar critical acclaim to Jay's earlier releases, securing airplay on key radio stations, and a high ranking in respected music publications, including Q Magazine, who instantly made 'She Didn't Understand' their track of the Day.
When released for sale on Amazon.co.uk on 30 June 2008, 'Further Than Tomorrow' sold out in one day - illustrating the enduring interest in Jay's music.
On Friday 10 October 2008 a tribute concert was held to celebrate the music of Matthew Jay. Nine acts, including Starsailor's James Walsh, Chris Difford from Squeeze and Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) performed one of Jay's songs, as well as showcasing their own work. The concert was at The Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK, and all profits were donated to Amnesty International.
- Four Songs (Jan 2000 in UK) Format: CD
- Friendly Fire (May 2000 in UK) Format: CD
- Four Minute Rebellion EP (2000 in USA) Format: CD
- "Let Your Shoulder Fall" (March 2001 in UK) Format: CD/Vinyl
- "Please Don't Send Me Away" (June 2001 in UK) Format: CD/Vinyl
- "Call My Name Out" (Nov 2001 in UK) Format: CD/Vinyl
- "What Would Love Do Now" (Sept 2006, new previously unheard new song) Format: digital download release only
- Our Time (May 2008 – EMI/Jays Music Ltd) Format: Download
- Draw (April 2001 in UK – EMI) Format: CD
- Draw (re-released version in UK June 2001 – EMI) Format: CD
- Draw (USA edition August 2001 – EMI) Format: CD
- Too Soon (August 2004 memorial album of rarities and early songs – EMI/Jays Music Ltd) Format: CD
- Further Than Tomorrow (June 2008 – Jays Music Ltd) Format: CD and download.
- "Matthew Jay biography". BBC. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- Baker, Kenneth; et al. (2003-12-28). "Passages 2003: This year saw the loss of giants in the arts and entertainment worlds". SFGate. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- "Matthew Jay plunges from window". Virgin Megamagazine. 2003-10-01. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- "Matthew proves quite a "draw"". BBC. 2001-04-09. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- Goh, Daryl (2001). "Draw". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- Brock, Brady (May 2005). "Matthew Jay: Too Soon". In Music We Trust. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- Ladouceur, Liisa (2001-06-28). "Matthew Jay's rap sheet". Eye Weekly. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- "Matthew Jay biography". BBC Wales. Archived from the original on 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
- Simmonds, Jeremy (2006). Number One in Heaven: The Heroes Who Died for Rock 'n' Roll. London: Penguin Books. p. 506. ISBN 0-14-102287-6.