Just Seconds Apart
words | Celestial Williams
photography | Isaac Bailey
The music industry is jam-packed with bands trying to prove they’re different and one of a kind. The problem, most aren’t. Once in awhile, there’s a standout. A group that has something different. Something you don’t see every day.
Just Seconds Apart is a unique band consisting of three members, Ari (guitar/lead vocals), Alex (keyboard/bass/vocals), and Sela (drums/vocals). When we first noticed JSA, we were drawn in because of Sela, the drummer. Who doesn’t love a girl drummer?
Their uniqueness doesn’t stop there. Ari, Alex, and Sela are also 16-year-old triplets. Yep, they were born just seconds apart on September 6th, 1999. We had the chance to meet up with them in their Scottsdale, Arizona studio, for a private showcase, interview, and photo shoot. Their sound is an energetic mix of pop, with some rock thrown in for flavor. In fact, our whole crew had a hard time standing still while they performed for us.
If you ask the teens to explain their sound, they’ll tell you “...it’s fun, happy, fresh, relatable, and makes you want to move.”
It all started when their mom Shelli, took the triplets at 18 months old to mommy and me music classes, then piano lessons when they were only three. On their 8th birthday, their grandmother took them to a music store called Candyman. She told them to each pick out a musical instrument, and they stuck with it.
You’ll find them most days in the studio perfecting their sound. A typical day consists of 3 hours of practice in the studio, 2 hours individual practice, writing together, and of course schoolwork.
For fun, you’ll find them playing pretty much any sport. Sela, Alex, and Ari are all extraordinarily competitive, whether it’s shooting hoops, baseball, ping pong, or even football. “It can get really intense,” says Sela. She’s not the type to sit around on the sidelines either. You can find her playing football as the quarterback. We knew we liked her!
Their first tour was in 2014. Since then, they’ve been heard on Camplified, High School Nation Tour, Sirius XM Hits 1, and also MTV Fresh Faces. “We love to perform,” Alex shared. Sela loves the rush, “You can’t train for the rush you get before a performance.” When we asked them if they ever get nervous about messing up during a big performance, Ari said, “You have to just act like it didn’t happen, don’t stop, or make any surprised faces.”
They all agreed they’d open up for the same type of bands, “5 Seconds of Summer, The Vamps, One Direction, or 5th Harmony.” Even though they agree on that, their playlists are entirely different. Sela says she loves country; Ari appreciates big band music like Frank Sinatra, and Alex prefers bands like Smallpools. Ari added, “There’s nothing like belting out Fly Me to the Moon by Sinatra in the car.”
Every writer has their main impulses of why they write a song. JSA write together, but frontman Ari usually writes the melody, and Alex and Sela prefer to write the lyrics. Sela says, “We like to write about personal experiences, and things that are uplifting, or that will help us connect with our fans.” Alex added, “We also like to write about things we want to happen to us in the future.”
At this point in the interview, I was impressed with the band’s humility, graciousness, sense of humor, and confidence. Sela seems to be the peacemaker of the group, Alex is the joker, and Ari has a confident coolness about him. It didn’t go unnoticed that Sela is quietly funny, witty even. They admit, “We don’t really fight, we just disagree, but we get over it.”
Alex and Ari both agree that they feel very protective over their sister. When asked about dating, Sela said, “I know they’re protective, but I know they’re just looking out for me.” “If a date comes to pick her up, I just can’t be there to see it happen, it’s hard, but it’s just because I want the best for her,” Ari said. “If one of my brothers didn’t like a guy I was thinking about dating, I don’t think I could. I trust them both, and value their opinions.”
With all good things, there always seems to be some adversity. Two years ago JSA was looking for a new song. Their now former manager presented them with a song called Unbelievable. They loved it. It was perfect. They went ahead and recorded it and also produced a music video. Everything seemed like it was going perfectly. Until someone made a comment on their social media accusing JSA of plagiarism.
In 2011, Producer Denzil Remedios (iDR) co-wrote the song Unbelievable. He then licensed a Korean version of the song to Sony Music Entertainment. That song was released under the name, Walkin’, by the KPOP group, Super Junior.
In 2014, iDR gave JSA the legal right to record and perform the English version of Unbelievable. JSA released the song in late 2014. Sony Music is aware of this and has confirmed there are no conflicting rights to the song.
Some Super Junior fans didn’t seem to care. They posted negative comments on JSA’s social media accusing them of plagiarism. iDR even made a YouTube video explaining what happened. JSA followed that lead with making their own video. Sela, Ari, and Alex continue to take the Unbelievable matter with Super Junior fans in stride. They took the high road, and they respect how loyal Super Junior fans are. JSA looks forward to the same, close relationship with their own fans.
Ten years from now they picture themselves inspiring, uplifting and making people happy with their music. They feel strongly that they’re on the path they were meant to take. They know that everything happens for a reason and that there are no accidents, and when one door closes, another door opens.
Sela, Ari, and Alex are working tirelessly to make their dreams come true. Just Seconds Apart is moving forward. We invite you to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.