Let’s get one thing straight. Jayda Guy is smart. Like nerdy, goofy, love the environment, NASA scientist-type intelligence. No joke. She’s got the marine biologist paperwork to prove it. Born and raised in the small town of Grand Forks, British Columbia—a half days ride outside Vancouver—Jayda G, the moniker she produces and DJs under, grew up surrounded by nature. We’re talking mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes. That fresh air and water, seeing and smelling natural greens and blues, one can assume it serves the personality a certain grounding.
Respect. Empathy for living, breathing creatures….. a sensibility to care outside oneself. Like one of those BBC shows where the veterinarian goes farm to farm, birthing baby cows or solving intestinal gas problems for animals who can’t articulate the problem, but damn well communicate it one way or another.
Her upbringing fed a very early interest in biology and the natural world. In 2018 she completed her Masters in Resource and Environmental Management specializing in environmental toxicology, wherein she investigated the effects of human activity on the Salish Sea killer whales. This is the first time I’ve mentioned killer whales in a review about House music. Life comes at you fast…
2019 album Significant Changes was presented almost as a dissertation, entwining natural and dance floor history, a life-force pumping through its tracks. It followed on the heels of animated DJ sets at Dekmantel in 2017 and Glastonbury, Melt!, Night + Day Bilbao plus parties at Rhythm Section, The Hydra and Warehouse Project. The song “Orcas Reprise,” an elaborate green mood filled with the sounds of whales chirping, documented a REAL view of a budding individualist artist (she calls herself a dork).
So with all that patience and search for understanding about highly intelligent, social mammals, it makes total sense Jayda G would be hesitant to release music during such a ‘different’ time as now. While the concern is highly moral, however, the timing is faultless. This new project, born out of a meeting and quick friendship with producer Fred again.. (BRIT Award-winning and Ivor Novello nominated artist who recently collaborated with Headie One, Jamie xx, fka Twigs, and Sampha) brings a revitalizing, nostalgic vibe.
The four tracks on “Both of Us/Are U Down” not only remind us of how tuned-in Jayda G is to classic Chicago and Detroit Black dance music—house and techno—she rewinds the clock to an era that relied on strident piano chords, bursting with resonance, that made the ’90s version of the genre so distinguishable.
“Both of Us” is indeed a cheery produced number. Filled with modal chord structures, plinking and shuffling in transit, with a slow breakdown, kinda nodding to Lil Louis standard “French Kiss” a bit, just not as risque, and then the upbeat release. It’s par for the course how she likes to fill her DJ sets. Classic, uplifting house joints. The ones you have to dig for in weird bins, possibly located in the Kenny Rodgers section of the record store (an old DJ trick to hide the good shit from other leering DJs who didn’t want to put in That Work). But oh so worth the effort. With a new revitalized Inner City project slated for a fall release, the timing remains apt.
Funky, with a somewhat aquatic, underwater texture, the second track ‘Are U Down’ seems to come from a different space. Capturing that subdued “watching everything unfold cause I don’t know what’s next” mood, in the liner notes she credits it to her relocating from Berlin to London. The track expresses outward to the world those ‘humble’ sheltered-in-place haircuts, Zoom happy hours, and living room yoga classes. It’s definitely a musical score of transition.
The title and words, hummed in a rather warbled manner, feel like these NOT so ideal situations. STILL making that damn lemonade again, with a slightly forced smile. Our reward? The “Are U Down” remix, fashioned with cannon drums, groovier keyboard work, and that swing.
Jayda G, leading us outta the fog, gives us a vision of a better day.