The members of Bluejay moved back to Miami from Tallahassee in 2012 after finishing school as a pretty much acoustic alt-folk band. But after playing live more frequently and with an increasingly wide variety of other bands, their sound grew in significant ways.
"The musical and artistic climate of Miami has opened up a world of possibilities," explains singer and guitarist Jay Thomas of this evolution. "New experience has the possibility to offer new musical forms," he says.
Adding synth and drums to what at first was only acoustic guitar, cello, and vocals has partially been a result of living in Miami. It's easy to pick up on the group's influences -- they range from Ani DiFranco to the Caribbean and Latin music that can be heard nearly everywhere in South Florida -- but the band's sound leans the hardest on folk.
Those new forms are most obvious when Bluejay plays live, as it will on Friday at Stache, the Fort Lauderdale venue the group calls its "second home" considering how much it's played there when venturing out of the 305.
"As we become more connected in South Florida, we get the opportunity to play a wider variety of shows," Thomas says, "from high-energy shows at local clubs where we wail and growl to private parties where we dress sharply and play longer fancy sets of our smooth material."
Bluejay has been mentioned on more than one list of Miami's best bands because of its live shows. The songs Thomas says it likes to play live the best can be heard on its latest release, Bluejay Mixtape Vol. 1, with most being reworked and rerecorded from the versions released on its first two studio albums, Mercury and Goblins.
There's plenty of new material in the works too, he says, though the band is focused on "letting the songs breathe" before hitting the studio and "figuring out where their homes will be."
Considering how playing live has affected its already-existing songs, that makes sense. Thomas said simple additions or changes to the instrumentation has pushed all three members of Bluejay to see new ideas in all of its songs, and it's going to follow those ideas wherever they go.
"Inspiration can come from anywhere," he said, "but specifically, when we find ourselves in new situations, even with relatively small changes, like getting a new equalizer pedal for the guitar, little musical doors can open up and you hear 'Hey, come check out what's in here.'
"So you follow the rabbit down the rabbit hole."