Jay Santilli: 'It Would Be Wrong Of Me Not To Pursue My Dreams'

14 June 2024 | 11:58 am | Samuel J. Fell

It’s been a slow and steady ride for Jay Santilli, but things are now beginning to gather steam with the brand-new single 'You're Not Coming In'.

Jay Santilli

Jay Santilli (Source: Supplied)

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It’s been a quiet but determined year thus far for Jay Santilli. It’s been a rebuild of sorts, a rebrand, a restart. The mother of twin girls, born just as the world went into lockdown, has had a full plate, putting her burgeoning musical career on hold. However, 2024 sees the Melbourne native with renewed energy and focus, ready to share her music with like-minded souls once again.

“I had [reached] a bit of a crossroads before COVID hit,” she muses. “I just didn’t know where to go next, to be completely honest. So it gave me time to think about where to next, what are the steps, which I probably wouldn’t have gotten if we hadn’t had that forced opportunity.”

As such, Santilli has found clarity once more, her raison d’tetre now writing and performing with a renewed vigour, something which she’s had the space to realise now that things, both globally and from a family perspective, have settled somewhat. 

Cast in the country mould, Santilli isn’t exactly a newcomer to the scene—winning the Maton Talent Search at the Gympie Music Muster in 2012 is where it began, preceding a slow burn that yielded a slew of singles, writing trips to Nashville and as many shows as could be fit in among the ever-shifting sands of life, love, and loss. Then hiatus. And now restart. 

Tamworth kicked it off back in January, followed by sets at the Hello Sunshine festival in Melbourne. These sets brought her to the attention of Teamwrk Records, with whom she’s just released a new single, You’re Not Coming In.

With Teamwrk, Santilli stands in an impressive roster alongside artists of different genres, such as 360 and Masked Wolf, and marks the label’s first country music signing. Throw in support slots for Taylor Moss and Kaylee Bell, plus a few headlining shows of her own, along with another Nashville trip penned in for July, and 2024 is well and truly off and running for Santilli.

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“Performing and writing is my main focus now,” she concurs on how the year has panned out so far. “It’s a really exciting time.”

You’re Not Coming In, Santilli’s new single, a dark and strong song that deals in that most country music of motifs: the bad relationship, came about while on one of the aforementioned trips to Nashville, writing with long-time friend and musician Alex Tomlins.

“The song came about as we were going through old notes on my phone; it’s a reflection of some bad relationships I’ve had in my life,” she explains on the song’s origin. 

“In this instance, we were talking about how sometimes you’re a glutton for punishment, and you just keep letting those people who aren’t so good for you back into your life. So, we were reflecting on that and [realised] there comes a time where you’ve got to close a door on your past in order to move forward.”

You’re Not Coming In is, ostensibly, closure for Santilli, catharsis through song, and it marks her reignition, the first of a slew of singles planned for release as the year enters its second half.

“I do have a few songs in the bank at the moment, ready to go,” she smiles, “I’m really excited for that. And I’m recording my show at The Toff (in July), so I’m hoping to have that released in the new year, [around] Tamworth [time].” 

Santilli’s slow burn is yielding results then, the fruits of her passion and focus coming to the fore. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I can’t not do it,” she enthuses. “It would be wrong of me not to pursue my dreams; I don’t want my girls to be like, ‘I didn’t know you were a singer’, and I didn’t want them to think I gave it up because of [them], you know? So it’s something I want to do and instill in them that if you’ve got a dream, by all means, do whatever you can to achieve it.”

Next month, Santilli will head back to Nashville, the world centre of country music, for her third stint, which will perhaps be the most important.

“I went for the first time when I was 20, just shy of 21, unfortunately,” she laughs. “That was an amazing experience, and I learned so much, but as I wasn’t 21, I couldn’t go to any bars or see any live music, so I got the PG-rated version of Nashville.

“The second time I went was different; I hung out with my friends who play in the bars over there, Alex Tomlins, who I wrote You’re Not Coming In with, he plays in a lot of house bands over there – that was a lot of socialising, but this time it’s business.”

This time, as part of the business, Santilli has writing sessions lined up with Jordan Dozzi (who’s written with Morgan Wallen and Eric Church); ARIA-award winning Australian Phil Barton; Noah Needleman (ex-musical director for Brett Young, among other things); and Tomlins once more. “My main focus is to [get in the can] some songs, so I’m ready to nail next year as well,” Santilli says on what she hopes to get out of this particular trip.

“I’ve been so busy this year, and I’m always forward thinking and try to think five steps ahead of myself. So it’s making sure I’m as prepared as I can be. I’ve got the live album I want to do, but I also want to have an EP and a studio EP to release. So, just to have as much material as I can.”

This seems an obvious move – build up the material in order to release more material. In truth, it’s part of the baby steps that Santilli is rebuilding, rebranding, and restarting. It’s been a quiet but determined year thus far for Jay Santilli, but at this rate, coupled with the quality that imbues her music, her career is set to accelerate much faster.

You’re Not Coming In is out now via Teamwrk Records.