ST. LOUIS — In a non-descript building in an Overland, Mo. industrial park, two young music men are realizing a dream. Armed with a new distribution deal with a major record label and an imminent single release, Jam Factory co-founders Ashley Booker and Jun Cai are ready to take on the music world.
“Right now we have a new record that’s playing on the radio right now called “Pull Up”, said Cai. “It hasn’t released yet. It’s going to be released on the 20 of November through Capitol and we have a bunch of other records lined up.”
Ashley Booker produced the recording by his business partner Cai.
“St. Louis definitely has something to look forward to,” said Booker. “They’re going to have somebody out here on the musical landscape. He can dance, he can sing, song-write. He’s savvy.”
Jun Cai was born in China and when his family came to the U.S., they settled in Chesterfield, Mo. Cai didn’t necessarily share his parents' view of his future.
“As an Asian I’m told to be a doctor or be a lawyer and I️ ended up picking up a performing arts degree,” said Cai.
A chance meeting at a music video shoot led to Cai and Booker’s business partnership, a one stop music recording facility. Booker is impatiently waiting for construction of two new recording studios.
“When the build out is done, will have three full recording studios. We have photo studio, we have a green screen room, we have a sound stage but everything is still kind of under construction,” said Booker. “I’m a producer, Jun’s an artist. We’re also business partners so it just made sense for us to kind of knock the door down.”
The capability that sets Jam Factory apart from other St. Louis recording studios is it has a distribution deal with Capitol Priority Records. Historically, Priority Records is significant for launching the career of NWA and distributing the landmark West Coast rap recording “Straight Outta Compton”. Priority also launched careers of artists like Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z. As a practical matter for Booker and Cai, the distribution deal allows them to launch musical acts from St. Louis so that local talent isn’t forced to travel to L.A., New York, or Atlanta.
“We have a distribution channel to be able to put everything out on a broad scale, so right now I’m just building, I’m working,” said Booker.
Booker learned his craft while collaborating with legendary producer and performer Jermaine Dupri in Atlanta. Dupri is known for his hit-making with the likes of Mariah Carey, Usher, Jay-Z, and Alicia Keys. For Booker, observing Dupri was like music producing graduate school.
“Learned a lot about building artists. Learned a lot about record making because he’s a hit maker. That’s his thing,” said Booker.
Dupri encouraged Booker to bring his talents back home to St. Louis to develop local talent and provide a local launching pad.
“I️ feel like St. Louis has had a wealth of talent including myself,” said Booker. “It took me out of town. I️ just think there was never a business infrastructure set up for an artist to go from A to B. We had to go out of town.”
The success Jam Factory is chasing starts with a simple philosophy-- you have to dream before your dreams can come true.
“Think big,” said Cai. “That’s what we’re going for.”