'Ask me which one of Girls Aloud I fancy,' pleads Jay Sean. 'This year, in every interview, it's always been about Shilpa Shetty - I don't mind, she's a mate - but you don't always want to be asked Asian-only questions.'
Not that he's moaning, of course. Hounslow-born Jay is the first to admit he didn't set out to be a star. Despite rapping in pre-pubescent hip-hop duo, the delightfully-named Compulsive Disorder, at just 11, his early years followed a fairly conservative route - 'that's what parents expect', he says with a smile - as he attended the prestigious Latymer Upper School and later Barts & The London Queen Mary's School of Medicine.
But, it was whilst juggling both his music and medical ambitions that Jay's first self-penned track, 'One Minute,' was passed on by a friend to a producer , who in turn invited Jay to the studio for an impromptu performance in front of his managers, 2Point9. Shortly after, Jay dropped out of med school and signed a contract with Virgin.
Jay's debut single 'Dance With You,' released in '03 and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts, it established Jay as a serious new talent. His debut album 'Me Against Myself' consolidated expectations and went on to chart within the UK top 30, with further singles ('Eyes On You' and 'Stolen') hitting numbers 6 and 4.
Suddenly, Jay found himself a staple on the sofas of Saturday morning kids' TV, dodging Cat Deeley's questions about the perceptions of Asian musicians in the UK, and longing to be asked, just like McFly, what colour pants he had on. He says: 'I love my Asian fan-base, they've done everything for me, and I welcome conversations about multi-culturalism, but I want to break out of the limitations it sometimes imposes. I'm not a politician, I'm a musician, and there are other things I'd rather speak about, just like your average London geezer.'
Average may not be the best word to describe Jay. To date he has sold over 300,000 albums worldwide in mainstream outlets and across S.E. Asia his debut went 5 times platinum.
As well as touring internationally in over 100 major cities across 4 continents, Jay has set up his own production company Jayded - a joint venture between himself and management company/record label 2Point9. Why the decision to go it alone? 'It was the typical situation - you're being pushed in one direction (by a major label) when I'm the one on the front-line having to justify my actions. As soon as indie-rock had been mentioned in a conversation, I just thought get out of here before I'm shoved on stage as the next David Gray.'
With influences including Musiq Soulchild, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Robin Thicke, Jay couldn't be further from the Babylon babbler. 'My Own Way' was recorded in New York and London, and uses the production talents of J-Remy (Fabulous, DJ Clue) and Duro (Mariah Carey, Jay Z, Mary J Blige, Pharrell Williams). 'I've brought a lot of r&b stylings to the front.' says Jay. 'With this album I have focused heavily on the songs'.
'Lyrically, there's social commentary on tracks such as 'Good Enough For You,' which debates the problems of mixed-race relationships,' says Jay. 'There's also an insight into my feelings about the music industry and how I've been treated. But I didn't want to make an issue-heavy record.' New single 'Ride It' (released 21st Jan) features fresh new British production team Sampson Productions, along with top-notch production from New York posse J-Remy and Duro. 'Like a lot of my material, it's based on what I get up to when I'm out and about,' says Jay. 'It refers to the games people play across the dancefloor - how you can catch someone's eye and accept a challenge that lasts the rest of the evening.'
Oh, and if you're interested - 'Cheryl, it's gotta be Cheryl. Hasn't it? She's the only really fit one.' Watch this space.