Summer of Joy – with Jayda-G

April Wan

We had a chance to catch up with Jayda-G when she took a break from her hectic festival season – while she’s enjoying her time in her childhood home in British Columbia. Jayda has a grounding presence that reflects on her authenticity – whether through her most recent album, Guy or the impressive master’s degree she holds in environmental toxicology. She shares the importance of discipline and surrounding yourself with like-minded people who can help you reach your highest self. Jayda reminds us of the power of being young – embracing the naivety of everything, most importantly, making mistakes. Read our chat below on the creative process of her album, growing an intuitive voice, and headlining the Summer of Joy festival with Deutsche Telekom and Electronic Beats.

April Wan: How did it feel being the headlining performance and opening the Summer of Joy event in Vienna?
Jayda-G: I feel grateful. It’s something that I never set out to do because I had a whole different trajectory and career that I was aiming for. DJing was a hobby that took a complete life of its own. I think every single set I have; there’s this weird moment where I’m like, “I can’t believe this is what I’m doing.” I don’t think that ever gets old. I’ve been touring internationally for several years, and it never ceases to amaze me. Happy, grateful and amazed at how strange and wonderful life can be.
AW: What does it mean to be young for you?
JG: For me, it means embracing naivety in everything. I think the campaign hit home on that, especially from the commercial we shot, but the whole concept of the commercial was around Peter Pan and the idea of the freedom to be young. It’s about the freedom to experience life and learn your lessons; that’s how you get through life. Allowing yourself to make mistakes is the only way the lesson will stick. Your parents can tell you this, that and the other thing, but until you experience it yourself, that’s the only way that you can integrate it within your view of the world.
AW: What would you say to encourage young people with the same ambition and drive as you?
JG: I could hone in on two things. Listen to that voice within you that speaks true to what is essential to you. I think that voice can be dimmed a lot as we move through life and practice strengthening that voice. It’s a skill, and it takes effort and learning what is important to you because that will essentially dictate the rest of your life. In terms of your decisions, like where you live, where you work, who you work with, the type of people you surround yourself with, especially that part. The type of people you surround yourself with indicates the kind of person you are. The more you listen to that voice of what is important to you and what your values are, it plays out with the type of people you surround yourself with. 
Another big one is discipline. That’s the reason I got to where I am. It’s continuing on a track, hitting the pavement repeatedly, falling on my face, and getting back up and all the cliche things you talk about and hear about in life. But there is indeed a level of determination that comes with discipline and setting out on a task and not giving up on yourself. As hard as that is. I’m also just very aware that life is fucking hard. It is so hard.
AW: You’ve been an avid speaker on climate change and hold a master’s degree in environmental toxicology – not many DJs know that area. You were launching JMG Talks with a group of scientists. You also grew up in Grand Forks, British Columbia – coming from someone who grew up in Vancouver, I know the city’s nature is captivating. Did your surroundings in childhood spark interest in this sector?
JG: The coast (British Columbia), it’s a temperate rainforest, very wet and dreary. I grew up in the Interior, which was dry and hot. It’s very deserty, actually, in a lot of ways. There are a lot of coniferous forests, and I grew up surrounded by trees. It’s always been part of my upbringing how we Canadians love the outdoors. So my parents took me fishing and hiking and all those outdoor activities. So even before my master’s, I would say that nature was a big part of my family ethos. My parents were tree planters and planted for five years. When I went to high school, my science teachers were terrific. They emphasized trying to get students out and into nature. None of us could afford specific field trips, so we’d do these big fundraisers and go to Banfield. 
Banfield, is a research station in Vancouver Island, so seeing a research station, how research is conducted and talking to other biologists further pushed my interests. Also, I used to go to a summer camp on Gabriela Island, and I would go around and touch all the sea anemones, which you’re not supposed to do. So that all led me to the biology and environmental toxicology academic career I pursued.
AW: You shared that the new album is created in a way, unlike any other records you’ve done before. Can you explain the process to us?
JG: Challenging and emotional, it took a lot. I could only do that type of work during the pandemic because everything stopped, and I was able to take stock and time. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise because when touring wasn’t happening, I could take that time and put it into this album. Emotionally it took a lot of my energy as I was going through the videos, reading the transcripts of the videos, going through my father’s journals, and just understanding his life more deeply. Also, coming from an adult perspective versus a child’s perspective was interesting. Being empathetic to his experience and putting myself into his shoes, and understanding that I’m a product of many of these decisions that he made, whether they were conscious or not.
AW: Do you feel like this album is a love letter to your late father?
JG: It was more so honouring him – his love, his experience and his life. There are songs with a back-and-forth between my experience and his experience. For example, the song Your Thoughts is like that. I think most of the music honouring his experiences and puts it all into a context of the more significant ideals and learning lessons.
AW: There’s a specific way for you to pick out a new vinyl. One of your rules is that the record needs to be bought in person by you – not online. Why is that? Do you have any other routines you follow?
JG: Well, I do buy some records. I buy off Discogs! Actually, that’s a lie. The way that I find new tracks is like digging. There’s an element I do shy away from buying off Discogs. I don’t know why; I think there’s an element of surprise when digging for records you can’t recreate on the Internet. That’s just the reality, that whole thing of flipping through records and then randomly picking something, and you have no idea what it’s going to sound like, and then finding gold, essentially.
AW: You’re now residing in east London with your partner – have you used the new kitchen and learnt how to make a Sunday roast yet?
JG: No, I haven’t yet because I tour too much and I’m always gone on Sunday. So the Sunday roast thing is very far between for me to experience in general and trying to learn how to make it. It’s something that I still really want to learn how to do, though. I want to learn about the culture of making a Sunday roast and the pain and sweat that goes through it. 
AW: What’s on your travel playlist right now?
JG: So a big thing I often listen to on an aeroplane is Kendrick Lamar – specially the Damn album. Gosh, it’s interesting – I play a lot of r&b while travelling. You know what? I also listen to a lot of Prince. I’m a huge fan, and I talk about Prince a lot. But I genuinely listen to Prince almost every day. Something I’ve been listening to is Asake; he has an album that came out earlier this year— Mr. Money With The Vibe.
AW: What’s the best footwear for a festival?
JG: The shoes that I wear are platform Tevas. Yeah. So you got a little height, which makes your legs look longer and cute, but they’re still practical. Or I’ll wear bright and colourful sneakers. There have been heels incorporated into my outfits lately, and it’s been challenging with these. Even though I may get a buggy to the stage, some places are hard to walk around in platform heels. Please don’t wear them!