Jay Sean, the west London medical student who conquered the US charts, says becoming a father helped persuade him to return to his R&B roots.

The artist, who grew up in Southall and Heston, has sold more than 15 million singles, including the Billboard number one hit Down, since quitting his medical training a decade ago to pursue his musical ambitions.

He returned to Latymer Upper School, in Hammersmith, yesterday to lead a workshop with pupils at his old school.

The visit was part of a promotional tour for Mistress II, his first album since parting ways with Cash Money Records to go independent.

He describes the concept album as a return to the R&B sound which made him famous but which had become diluted by the chase for success in the more lucrative pop market.

"It got to the point where I couldn't stomach pop music anymore. It was making me sick," he said.

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"I was being told to write something with a million hooks which gets inside your brain within 10 seconds of watching a YouTube preview, but my heart wasn't in it. I wanted to write something with more substance, of which I could be proud.

"The Mistress II is a return to the soulful R&B sound I was very much known for before moving to America. It's something I'm so passionate about and for which my fans have been crying out."

Doting dad

Jay and his wife Thara's first child, Ayva, will turn one in December, and they plan to celebrate at home in New York with an Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party - a nod to her English connections.

The doting dad says becoming a father played a big part in his change of direction.

"Having a daughter has made me care less about everything else because she will always come first. It definitely makes you more ballsy with your decisions," he says.

"I thought I'm a dad and I don't want to be doing this dance music which I'm not proud of so I'm going to walk."

Ayva may have given her dad the push he needed to return to the music he loves but his new album is more about making children than raising them, as is clear from the saucy video to his latest single Tears in the Ocean.

A follow-up to The Mistress, his 2011 mixtape, he describes it as the soundtrack to an imaginary film, inspired by the drama and emotion associated with the 'other woman' on the big screen.

"I like writing sexy songs but there's also a lot of drama, pain and more lyrical stuff on the album. Part I was so well received by my fans I knew I had to do a follow-up," he says.

Good to be back

Jay said it was great to be back in London, where he expects to be spending more time in future with his mum and dad, who are revelling in being grandparents for the first time.

He told getwestlondon he was hugely impressed with the talent on display at his old school - especially their music programming skills, which is something he never got to learn there.

"I got to hear a couple of their songs and was really impressed. I didn't expect them to be at that level," he said.

 

"I had an incredible time at this school. The emphasis wasn't just on academic performance, it was about developing your personality, enjoying life and meeting people from different walks of life. It helped shape me into who I am today."

Despite having four top 10 singles in the UK, including his breakthrough hits Eyes on You and Stolen, Jay is definitely a bigger name across the Atlantic, where he has appeared on the Jay Leno show and many other prime time talk shows.

He misses the British sense of humour and the dryness of his native country, which is an antidote to the relentless hype in the US.

But he says what is confused for US brashness and artificiality by cynics in the UK is often genuine warmth and friendship, which he has grown to love about his adopted homeland.

Although he says people can expect to see more of him in London in future, he has no plans to return for good, adding 'I've been around the world and New York remains my favourite city'.

Growing up in Heston

The 35-year-old's real name is Kamaljit Singh Jhooti, with the pseudonym composed from a mixture of 'Jay', the nickname given to him by friends, and an adaptation of 'Shaan', the pet name by which his grandmother called him.

He grew up in Southall and Heston, and attended Beacon House School, in Ealing, and then Latymer Upper. He won a place at the prestigious Barts and the London School of Medicine before dropping out to devote his time to his music career.

As a youth, he remembers hanging out at the Treaty Centre in Hounslow and playing cricket in his friends' backyards.

"The best thing about being back in London is meeting up again with all my old friends and family," he says.

"They help keep me grounded because they're honest, unlike all the yes men you're surrounded by in the music industry. My friends know me better than anyone and they said it was about time I returned to R&B."

He will also never forget his tough introduction to the music business, playing gigs at clubs and musical festivals across London as a teenager.

"I did some horrendous shows trying to make my name before I got signed. I remember people throwing drinks at me and shouting at me to get off stage," he says.

Easy decision

Although it took the birth of his daughter to persuade him to make the move away from pop, he says it was an easy decision in the end.

"No one believes me but I never get scared with any decision I make. When my gut says enough, I just do it," he explains.

"It was the same with giving up medicine. I know everyone else panics for me but once my mind is set I can't do anything else.

"My gut's yet to steer me wrong. After all, it's what made me chase Thara around America."

To this, his wife responds 'not just America, the world' and he jokingly adds 'yes, but I don't want to make myself sound like a stalker'.

Secret gigs

Jay insists he has not forgotten his home town fans who have been with him from the beginning, and he plans to reward them with some secret gigs, which will have a special significance for him.

"We've been talking about doing some low-key, secret venue stuff, which would be all acoustic, with live vocals, guitar, piano and beat boxing," he says.

"My last show in London was at the Hammersmith Apollo a year and a half ago and we'll definitely be doing some more shows here soon. I want them to be something fun and a bit different for my fans."

Twitter 'fuglies'

Jay is a prolific user of Twitter, having sent more than 14,000 tweets to his 1.49 million followers.

He doesn't just see the social networking site as a promotional tool. One of his favourite uses is inviting followers to send in their 'fuglies' - photos of them pulling ugly faces - which they have done in their droves.

"I'm the king of the ugly face. My wife will tell you she doesn't understand my bizarre fascination (here Thara chips in 'I think you need to start a self-help group') but I have a folder on my phone with 600 ugly faces I've pulled and sent to friends and family.

"One day I thought 'am I the only person who loves taking ugly selfies?' and I decided to invite my followers to tweet me theirs.

"I was bombarded with thousands and it was such fun. They really help cheer you up, especially on tour, which can be the most awful experience."

Jay has yet to share any of his own 'fuglies' and quickly declines getwestlondon's request to pull his most repulsive pose.

"I couldn't do that. I'd lose all my followers if they saw how ugly I can look. That's the sort of thing Ricky Gervais can get away with. Not me," he says.

You can check out Jay's new video Tears in the Ocean here.