Jaialai's relentless drive to deliver quality music and live shows doesn't go unnoticed in Miami's music scene. Since teasing fans with a three-track EP in 2017, the band has achieved plenty, from playing the main stage at this year's III Points to touring to releasing singles and music videos. Now Jaialai is ready to drop its first full-length album, Say So, on the new indie label Public Works Records.
The four members of the band, whose name spawned from a sesh of drinking Jai Alai IPAs, met at a party in 2016 where they bonded over beers and jammed together for the first time. It led to the creation of one of South Florida's most formidable psych-rock bands. The bandmates share similarities, including taste in music such as Radiohead and being first-generation Miamians.
Born in Venezuela and having moved to the United States six years ago, guitarist/vocalist Jose Adames grew up in a household of musicians but didn't have many opportunities to perform with others until he lived in Miami. "I've always played music, but... I never played with anyone. [Venezuela] is not a place you can say, 'Oh, there's music everywhere.' It wasn't that easy," Adames says. Once in Miami, his older brother introduced him to a former high-school friend and drummer, Ricky Boullon, who is also from Venezuela. The two would collaborate on projects until they met the rest of the bandmates.
"I think everyone is very different in the group — each person is a very strong individual character... and I think it helps out a lot when it comes to creating material," guitarist/vocalist Oscar Sardiñas says. Their different cultures — Sardiñas is Cuban-American and bassist Mario Lemus is from El Salvador — give each member a unique musical drive.
The bandmates haven't stopped working since the release of their debut EP, 2017's When I'm on the Run. The upcoming LP's first single, "Hold the Phone," dropped last November, followed by the "In the Catacombs" single and music video, and the most recent track, "Sunshine," released last month. All three songs will be on the eight-track album.
Many bands must overcome obstacles when recording music, but Jaialai was forced to confront an exceptionally large hurdle: Hurricane Irma. They were recording the LP live at the now-defunct rehearsal studio 1609 in Little River. Halfway through the process, they learned the storm had turned toward Miami, so they had to evacuate all their recording equipment and instruments. "We even thought about naming the album Irma," Adames jokes.
"It pushed back a process we had mapped out for a little time span," Sardiñas says. The original plans to record the entire album in only two weeks were demolished, as was half the city. However, the delay proved auspicious. In the aftermath of Irma, the bandmates found it more difficult to coordinate their busier schedules, which slowed the recording process and gave them more time and space to think through the LP. Halfway through mixing the album, they decided to start over. Now they're confident it's ready.
"More than just psychedelic, our music is very emotional, so I think it's a resemblance to a dose of happiness. It's in the atoms," Adames says of the album art, which features green, violet, and red orbs that look like a cluster of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Jaialai will release the album on Public Works Records, a new project founded by musicians and significant others Oly Vargas and Nick County (real name Nick Mencia), along with Julian Martin, cofounder of the design and branding firm Lemon Yellow and designer of the Say So album cover.
After the three decided to form the record label, Mencia caught a live Jaialai set at Las Rosas. Blown away by the performance, he knew at that moment he wanted Public Works Records to work with Jaialai. "It's live and die with Jaialai," Mencia says. "If we can get them onboard, then we would have something. Julian, Oly, and I all felt really passionate about their music and them as people as we got to know them."
"The first single I heard from this album was 'Hold the Phone,'" Vargas adds. "I immediately felt intrigued, excited... I wanted to hear the song again." Public Works and Jaialai have worked hard toward the LP's release.
Say So will be available Wednesday, May 29, on all streaming platforms and in three colored vinyl variants: green, violet, and red. The record-release party will happen Friday, May 31, at 1306 Miami. Fans outside of South Florida also have something to look forward to: "We'll hopefully be announcing a tour for Say So soon," Sardiñas shares.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.