How A Shared Love For Music Between Justin Bieber And His A&R DJ Tay James Keeps The Hits Coming

Justin Bieber has a new album on the way and there are very few details out there on when fans can expect it or even an album title. It’s been a year since the release of his Grammy-nominated album Justice and now he’s gearing up for his newest era with his trusted DJ and A&R Taylor James, aka DJ Tay James, by his side.

“He’s really a musician,” Tay told me over the phone from Austin. “He likes tapping in with musicians. He’s really into writing right now. I love this space that he’s in. We’re in the middle of a tour and he’s focused on this in the middle of us doing this tour.”

Just as he did with the eclectic array of sounds living on Justice, Tay is currently helping Justin maintain his vision for what will be the award-winning artist’s seventh studio album, while handling DJ duties as he’s always done.

In fact, Tay has been by Justin’s side since the global pop star’s second show when he was appointed as his official DJ. That was over a decade ago. Today, the pair is still going strong as a musical unit. Most of the collaborations Justin has done were because he was a fan of the song or the artist first, or from the result of casual music banter between him and Tay.

Justin is a certified music maven who loves to dive deep into new sounds and talent, which is how the “Honest” feature with Don Toliver came to be.

“Justin is a mastermind when it comes to this stuff,” Tay said. “He might want to be featured on the project already and he might just reach out himself and just connect with the person and we’ll start sending them records.”

Easy peasy when your name is Justin Bieber. For example, it was JB who was hyped about Wizkid’s 2021 hit “Essence” with Tems, after Tay introduced him to the song. He loved it so much, that he ended up doing a remix to it after enjoying it on repeat during his manager’s birthday weekend. With Omah Lay’s “Attention,” it was Justin who was a fan of him first. He then brought the rising afrobeats artist to Tay’s attention during rehearsals. The natural exchange of new music like trading cards among friends is partly how Tay ended up becoming his official A&R right before the pandemic in March.

“I put him on The Kid Laroi. My cousin Q put me on to Kid Laroi and then I sent his profile off to Justin. The song is still on the charts,” Tay said of the 2021 mega track “Stay,” which has spent over 40 weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and currently sits at No. 13.

“I feel like at this point, for Justin, it is whatever he feels comfortable with or whoever he wants to collab [with] to help bring the music to a certain light,” he said. “If you notice he likes working with new artists, he likes working with up-and-coming artists.”

And the same is true for Tay, so it made sense for Scooter Braun and JB to make that call.

“I like looking at new and upcoming artists to see who’s dope, who’s moving the culture,” he told me. “That’s kind of why I’m here, to just give suggestions but it’s still his vision. Whatever he needs me to do to help his vision come true. I’m here to help.”

That vision also includes knowing exactly when Justin is in love with a sound that he hears or a vibe that moves him. If that happens, he may hop on a piano or start playing an acoustic guitar.

“He’s been really writing a lot himself, but just like anyone, if you hear something you really like, you keep playing it back to back,” he revealed of Justin’s in-studio process. “If I’m going through beats and we get stuck on a beat and we’re listening to that beat for more than five minutes, most likely it’s going to get recorded on. I just try to pick the best sounds, something that I know that’s really melodic, something I know he can sing over. He loves chords, he loves gospel music. You know Justin, his first love is R&B, he really loves R&B. Anything that has melodic chords will always attract him. He has a great ear.”

“Justin has always been an artist to experiment with new sounds,” he added. “We always like to do new stuff.” I mean, just listen to “I Feel Funny.”

As for the sonic direction of Justin’s new collection of songs, “You should expect to hear some great things,” Tay assured me — including a tune with John Mayer. “I’m excited about what we’ve been working on. It’s Justin, and Justin is a vessel for so many different fans and his music touches so many different people. Always expect him to have music for everybody.”

As for DJ Tay James, you can catch him behind the DJ booth during one of Bieber’s Justice World Tour stops while also pushing a few other endeavors like the partnership he has with Purple Denim and conscious jewelry brand Polite Worldwide. Music from the Biebs is allegedly coming soon.