Interview: Jelani Aryeh’s sophomore album ‘The Sweater Club’ is everything we need & more

“I’m not afraid to be out there and get strange with ideas and I think that confidence comes with finishing a record.”

Jelani Aryeh’s highly anticipated album ‘The Sweater Club’ dropped today and it’s exactly what we’ve all been waiting for. 

At 24, Jelani Aryeh has taken the world by storm. The rising star’s debut LP “I’ve Got Some Living To Do,” achieved over 200 million streams after its release in 2021.

jelani new release sweater album happy mag
Credit: Silken Weinberg

Praised for its infectious sound, hopefulness, and swaggering earnestness, the album rightfully cemented Aryeh as one of the best new artists in indie pop. 

Down to earth and a Taurus sun, you can feel his sentimentality through the music he makes. It’s heartfelt, personal, and infectious.

Blending smooth mellow vocals with infectious beats, Jelani Aryeh has a sound that is truly mesmerising. 

Sweater Club’ explores growing up and finding your own footing in the messiness that is your twenties. 

Born and raised in San-Diego, before briefly moving to LA to pursue music, Aryeh drew inspiration from this period in his latest album. Sometimes to find yourself in a big city, you have to return to your roots. 

The title track, Sweater Club, is addictively catchy. 

Intertwining vulnerability with infectious beats, you can’t help but get up and dance. And that reigns true for the rest of the album. 

must-add for any summer playlist this year, these 13 tracks will be the best 40 minutes and 29 seconds of your life.

Before he kicks off his national tour this November (Jelani please tour Australia), we sat down to chat with the indie-pop rising star to learn more about his music evolution, creative process, and what makes him happy.

Read the full interview with Jelani Aryeh below and scroll down to listen to ‘The Sweater Club’.

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

JELANI: I just finished embroidering this cow with wings on a cheap jacket I bought at the thrift last night. Now I’m about to get a beer with my dad. As for later I’m not too sure, other than my cousin’s birthday dinner.

HAPPY: What drives you to make music?

JELANI: I think it’s a mix of curiosity and boredom. Also a need to find my own distinct sound. 

I still feel like I sound a lot like my influences and not that that’s bad, but I’m looking forward to the day where someone is like “oh that’s definitely a Jelani song, no question about it.” Like the Cure, or an Amen Dunes. It’s so singular and uniquely them.

HAPPY: What place in life did this album come from? Where were you at emotionally and mentally? What things were you feeling?

JELANI: A lot of it comes from my time living alone in the great city of Los Angeles !!! Mostly between 2021-2023. For the most part it was a pretty unfavourable experience. 

In the end it was not the move to live by myself, especially being heavily introverted at this point in my life. Emotionally and mentally I was definitely all over the place, constantly in a state of fight or flight!

It felt like I didn’t know who I was and most of the time I was just floating around letting the days pass me by. Heavy sense of apathy too being in such a crowded place where everyone is striving for some kind of outward nobility.

jelani new album
Credit: Brandon Mosquera

HAPPY: How has your sound evolved since I’ve Got Some Living To Do? How do you think you’ve grown as an artist?

JELANI: I think it’s just gotten fuller. This feels like an older sibling rather than a close friend. It’s still got the same DNA as the last album but just a bit more mature.

As an artist, at least after finishing the sweater club, I think I’m just more certain about what I want moving forward. I’m not afraid to be out there and get strange with ideas and I think that confidence comes with finishing a record.

HAPPY: Where did you derive inspiration for Sweater Club? Who were your musical inspirations?

JELANI: I think a lot just from my life! Musically, a lot of it came from bands my aunt and mom would listen to when they were in high school and then some stuff from the late nineties and early 2000s.

HAPPY: What track is your favourite on the album and why?

JELANI: It’s always changing but right now it’s Shudder. I think events are happening in my life right now that that song may have prophesied. 

I can listen to it like it’s not me singing.

HAPPY: 1912 Stockholm Olympics is quite a shift from the rest of the album. What inspired the production behind it, and why did you choose to make it the last song?

JELANI: Jack Kolbe (my producer) has some family in telluride and this was actually the only thing we left that trip with. 

Jack was just playing some chords on the new guitar he bought earlier in town that day and I opened up my journal and just started reading off of it. I think you could hear me turning pages too. 

I put it at the end because anywhere else I think I would’ve lost the listener, it’s a lot of words. Almost an overwhelming amount.

HAPPY: Who is Mr Cobbs?

JELANI: Honestly just a random name I came up with because we had to submit the album and I had no idea what to name the interlude. It reminds me of a school bus driver in a kids book though.

HAPPY: What do you want listeners to take away from this album?

JELANI: Honestly everyone’s gonna take away something different from it. I don’t want to tell people what to take away but I hope it just makes them reflect on their own life.

HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy?

JELANI: Time with family. Driving with no agenda. Reading a book for hours. Buying clothes! Going out with my friends. Being obsessed with a new body of work. Ram Dass!