WITCHPOLICE RADIO Welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm back with a guest who's been on the show, I think, three or four times now, but it's been a while. I know we were just saying before we went on air that it's been a minute. And I think that the timing for this works great, because by the time people hear this, you will have released your brand new album, which is very exciting.
JAYWOOD Yes, a whole new body of work will be out at that point in time, and it's crazy to even think about it.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Great, I'm glad to hear it. I'm really looking forward to getting a copy of the record, too, but before we get into that, I do have a lot of things I want to ask you about the new record. But if you want to introduce yourself and give a bit of background about who you are and what you do is a great way to start off the show.
JAYWOOD Sounds great. my name is Jeremy Haywood-Smith. I perform under the name JayWood. I've been making music and art for, I guess the last… Jesus, like, seven years with this project. And yeah, recently, a couple of years. Man, last time we were talking, we were in the thralls of the pandemic.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO I know.
JAYWOOD It's so wild to think, I guess a couple of years back now, I got signed to Captured Tracks and I put up my redone version of my first EP, called Some Days. And on July 15, I would be putting up my label debut, Slingshot, on the label. And I'm very excited about that. And, yeah, by the time this is, like you said, by the time this is heard, they'll be out. Listen.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, it's very exciting. And I think that you're in an interesting position, because, like you said last time we talked, it was kind of the throes of the pandemic. And a lot of people have… everyone's dealt with different things during this time. Thankfully, shows are happening again, touring is happening again, all that. But, I mean, you sort of went from local independent artists to suddenly just getting signed, getting all this attention, and all this sort of happened during the pandemic. So what was that like? This experience of sort of, you know, you have become more of a known quantity, I think, just within Canadian and elsewhere music circles, sort of in this time when you couldn't go out and actually play for people.
JAYWOOD I mean, that's kind of the best case scenario for an introvert like myself, honestly. I didn't have to do any of the face to face at the time. But, yeah, it's been a trip watching everything kind of happen over the course of pandemic. It's been nice to kind of have all these things to work on and keep me busy and semi sane as things have been happening. And yeah, all the hype around the album has been so amazing. And I'm so, so stoked and grateful for everything. And I'm excited for people to finally hear this thing because I feel like because of the time I was able to just put into the album. I feel like I put so much effort and just like, intention and detail and everything into it and yeah. To finally have it be released and to kind of see the result of that and the noise of that has been just like. Oh, man. I think I'm going the right direction with things. And it feels really good.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Does it kind of feel like now that you've built up to this thing over all this time because you've had this extra time? Because is there more pressure now that, you know, this is coming out and people have to kind of now do like you said, you're an introvert, you have to do kind of the public facing thing right there and sort of promote it and then share it.
JAYWOOD I love doing stuff like this. I love just nerding out over all the shit I do. And it's like, oh, I'm so excited to do that. The face to face stuff, thankfully, I've had a taste of that with some touring earlier this year and I kind of worked my way back up to it. Still like a weird adjustment going from pandemic to touring again and even seeing people face to face. But yeah, I think it's just like, something I do because I'm so excited about the album. If I wasn't, this stuff, it would feel more exhausting than it is. But I'm just so excited about it that it's easy and I'm happy to do it.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Well, I should hope so, too. It would suck if you have an upcoming album and you're just kind of bummed about it, right?
WITCHPOLICE RADIO So I guess the first thing I want to ask you about the record is I mean, I've been sort of watching all the stuff on social media. You're posting some videos, you've been posting some music, you've been posting some cool photo shoots and things from this record. It seems like there's been a lot that's going into it. And like you're saying, too, for people who have heard your previous stuff. How would you describe this album? What should people expect? Because hopefully by the time this comes out, again, people have probably picked it up or maybe they have it, maybe you're new to them and what would they expect to hear from this album?
JAYWOOD True. I think the thing that you'll probably hear is a lot of change and a lot of growth from everything I've put out prior to this. The whole album, mhm how would I describe it? Felt like it was just fully out of my comfort zone locally, sonically, conceptually. I was like, I don't know how to do any of this. I don't feel comfortable doing anything I'm doing. And because of that, I just kind of went into a lot of weird places. I was like, oh, I'm into this style of music right now. I'm just going to go make a song like that. I'm going to sing this type of way. I'm going to produce and try to make this sound. It was just a lot of figuring things out and a lot of just trusting the process of the song. And I think what people will kind of hear is just like a lot of new ideas that I've not really ever tried before, as well as just like refined versions of things that put out in the past. I think that's a really important thing for me to just go back and to kind of redo the things I've done. I mean, that's why I put out Some Days.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, I was going to say that's the same thing.
JAYWOOD Exactly. So I think with the album, I now got to just do that again with a whole brand new list of songs that have never existed before. So, yeah, I think people will more than probably just hear growth and just a lot of change and a lot of different sounds. So I'm really stoked to see what people gravitate towards is that idea of.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Kind of redoing things and recording the changes and the improvements and the growth, is that something you kind of see yourself always doing? Like, are we going to hear some of the same songs ten years down the line and you've decided to kind of reinterpret them again? Or is there an end point, I guess, to these songs where you decide they're ready?
JAYWOOD Yeah, I don't see myself regurgitating the same idea over and over again. I think the main reason I did that with Some Days to this new album was because it feels like it's in the step of something completely different than everything I put out prior it's. Like, when I put this out, I think, like you were saying, it reaches a wider audience. You can do a lot more than anything else I've done prior to this. And I think by having Some Days next to that, it's like, this is where I started. It's very modest in the sense of, like, it's not that crazy. The production isn't insane, but it kind of, like, takes my past with me, essentially, is what the whole point was. And that is largely the theme of the whole album, which is such an amazing combo package, is that I wanted to look at my first body of work and then have that influence the newest thing I was working on. And I think in doing that, you go to the first thing, then you go to the second thing, and then you could work through the whole discography. Then you see the whole spectrum of things and yeah, I think it was really cool to just kind of do that as an experiment. But I think whenever I start working on the next thing, I'll be interested. I'll be excited to be somewhere else, and I'll be excited to see what inspires me. Maybe it's not the past next time, maybe I'll be something completely different.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, well, I know kind of the fluidity of that, too, where you have the earlier stuff and it kind of moves into the newer stuff rather than just being a shut door.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO It's not like this is done. This is compartmentalized over here. It flows totally.
JAYWOOD Yeah. I think that's largely why I also haven't changed my Instagram. I haven't gone back and deleted a bunch of old pictures. I want to show the whole range of everything I do, and I want to show the change and the shifting. Otherwise, it just feels like a curated version of myself rather than a real growing, changing thing. Yeah, that was important to me, for sure.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO It's interesting, too, because I've been having conversations with people about this, not in relation to music, but in relation to just kind of generationally. It seems like people who are in a certain, like I mean, I'm 40 in a couple of months. I'm not talking about my age group, I'm talking about younger age group. I mean, how old are you right now, if you don't mind me asking?
JAYWOOD I'm 28, and I will be 29 on August 3. So almost big three-oh.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah. Coming up to it, for sure. I was going to say, though, people in their 20s seem to me like as an old guy now, I guess I officially count it, should be more, , not doing that thing of wanting to kind of show an idealized version of themselves. They seem to be more open people in creative fields, especially to just being, this is who I am, this is works, and all kind of like you saying having your old music and having that available, and people can go back and see where you came from. And it seems like there's a generation between people in their 30s maybe, and up are kind of little more like, oh, I don't know, I want people to see me in this light versus it seems like the younger crowd is just like, fuck it, this is who I am. This is what I want to show you. And I respect that. I like that. It's nice to see.
JAYWOOD Totally. I think it's more sustainable that way. Also, people are realizing that if you're this curated version of yourself, you have to be on at all points. And I think the pandemic has caused people to have to spend a lot of time with themselves and be like, oh, I need to fully be comfortable where I'm at and with the person I am right now. And if we all get the opportunity to do music again, I think maybe I would hope that people would be like, I put some time into being comfortable and I'm cool to just kind of put myself out there. I know that was kind of what it was for me. Yeah, that's always been what it's been for me. I've made music through mine, not being comfortable with myself. And I think that's been the process. And that's why I want to just keep showing that I'm like, going through different phases and different eras.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah.
JAYWOOD I have not peaked yet and I don't think I will anytime soon, to be completely honest.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Well, that's probably a good attitude to have too, right? It's not just like, okay, now I'm done. I've reached the high point. Now it's all downhill from here.
JAYWOOD No, we're just getting started.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, well, I guess that also goes with what you're saying too, about just being influenced by different stuff and taking different ideas and different sounds. I mean, one of the songs that you've released so far, you rap on the song and that's the first time I've heard you rap. And it works. It sounds like a JayWood record, but it also has you rapping on it. I wouldn't have thought that before. Right. But it totally fits. That seems like going out of your comfort zone.
JAYWOOD 100%. I am not a rapper. I spent a lot of time just listening to hip hop and rap and like, the pandemic because I just haven't given myself that time to enter that genre because it's massive. I think the hiphop genre on itself is just away from music. It's just such a wide spectrum of sounds and it's just like, man, I'm just going to start at the beginning of it and just go back to the boombap era. Writing a rap was a whole new like, the writing rap is a whole new muscle to use. It's like a lot more words and you have to keep it interesting. It was just very much not what I'm used to doing and I think committing to that and not being like, I don't want to do that. I think that was part of the work that went into the album. Just like, don't get embarrassed by the being raw. Like the whole vulnerability of leaving your comfort zone is a thing that sometimes skipped over, but it's like, yeah, I've never rapped before. I've never written a rap, but I wanted to try it out and see how it works. And I think I'm glad to hear it still has that JayWood sound to it.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Whatever that is, I can't explain, but it is it sounds like you, but rapping. It works for sure. Going on your comfort zone, too. That song is, for your first time, writing a rap. You're talking about very serious subject matter. Like, it's a socially conscious song. And so that must have been an extra challenge, too.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO You're trying this genre that you haven't experimented with before, and then you're also saying something, wow.
JAYWOOD Yeah, that's an interesting perspective of it, too. Yeah, I think that song almost felt like it wrote itself just because it was so and I mean, like, even the themes of getting political with everything, it's like, that is what the whole genre is built on. It was punk rock for black people, essentially. It's like it's protest in a lot of ways. And I think I just wanted to pay as much homage to that. And that time was just so charged. I felt like I was equally as activated. And I was like, oh, I want to kind of try to tap into that energy and try to do something outside of myself.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Do you think that not necessarily the subject matter, but maybe that too. But do you think that rapping is something you want to try again? Are you hoping to incorporate more of that into what you do?
JAYWOOD Yeah, at this point, the album will be out. I think there is another semi rap song on there. I've definitely been playing around with how to use vocals and how to actually sing. I'm like, I definitely want to use rap as a tool in future music. I think it's a lot of fun when you kind of, like, write your own raps and make your own music to rap on. I think I understand now why so many rappers, they have such a good time with it. It's a different energy. I don't know how to perform rap.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, that was my next question, actually.
JAYWOOD Yeah, that's a whole new muscle. I've not figured out how to perform it, but that in itself is once again, being out of my comfort zone. Performing a lot of these new songs is like, man, I've never sang this high in front of people. Oh, I've never just held the mic for a whole song. I've never played these kind of, like, licks before. So it's like, relearning everything in real time. And I think that's really cool now that things are happening again in such amounts.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah. Well, do you think that I kind of get the feeling that audiences are willing to kind of give people the time to experiment with stuff like that because we've all come out of this thing. Right. It's not just the artists who have come out of this pandemic. It's the audience, too. I mean, everyone is just happy to see some kind of music. And the idea that maybe an artist that you've already been familiar with is going to try something new, it's exciting. Whereas before maybe been like, oh, come on, I want to just play the record.
JAYWOOD But old fashioned, reliable type of thing.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO That's right. Yeah. And now it's just like it's a show. We haven't had one of these, like, do something like, what are you going to do?
JAYWOOD That's exactly it. I think I'm just treating the whole thing like it's like a revamp version of what it was prior. It's completely different now. Landscape is different, new songs, everything's different. So I think we have to change, too.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO What are the plans? What's out there? Are you touring? What are you going to be doing to promote the record?
JAYWOOD I don't know if I can even say yet. I think I'll be announcing it soon enough. I'll be probably touring in the fall a bit and then waiting for kind of what the next year brings kind of planning around. Like the springtime thing. It's tricky to say because you keep hearing the whispers and murmurs that COVID's returning. It's like, oh, God, here we go again. I don't get too ahead of myself, but at the same time, I'm excited to get back on the road and play some of these new songs. But I'm also wanting to do more visual stuff around the album as well. Like, I want to do more shorts and skits and just really kind of boost up the visual aspect of this whole project. And that's something I've been very vocal about to everyone around me. Like, I want to direct more, I want to write more, I want to just have more visual presence with everything. And once the album is out, I think I can kind of start to tell a different story when people have heard the songs and like, oh, okay, this is now becoming a bigger thing. Yeah, we lived with it for a little longer.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Well, that's cool, because like I was saying, seeing some of the photoshoots and things you've been posting online and the album cover and things like that too right. And the videos you've put out so far, that is obviously a strong element of it. Is that always been something you wanted to do, is to kind of make that a significant part of your project?
JAYWOOD I think so. I think it's been really quiet at first. When I was working on a lot of my older music, I always had an idea of what I wanted it to look like. I'm like, oh, I want the video to be like this, or I want the pictures to be like this. Because this and, yeah, I've always had that in mind, but I think I never really got the chance to really kind of do it. And I think now, just with resource and just more time and more of a realized idea of what I want the project to be, I think it's become louder and louder that I should probably be just as intentional with my visual representation as I am with my sonic representation. So it's like they all have to work in tandem. And I think it's been really cool to see a lot of artists put that emphasis on both sides of their art. And it's just like, yeah, I really want to kind of be in that same avenue when I put out an album. It's not just an album. It's a whole ass experience. It's like, you get the photos, the videos, the songs, this, you get this, you got all these little things that tell a bigger story and you're like, living in a whole world for a little bit. And yeah, I think that really makes for me, an album, a fuller experience.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, I definitely agree as a listener, to just any music. When that happens, it always kind of enhances for sure what you're listening to. No worries. In this horrible world where people don't have an attention span, the amount of kind of focus people put on a given record. I mean, it could be a 30-second blip of a song and they shuffle on the next thing. Is it hard to kind of have those ideas where you want to present it as a whole ass experience, like you said, and knowing that not every listener is going to necessarily give it that time or give it that kind of depth of thought.
JAYWOOD Totally. I think it's one of those things where it's like it's a passion project at that point. It's not for anybody else. It's there if you want to kind of dive in. But it's more for me than it is for anybody else. And I think as people as I progress as an artist and get better at this whole thing, as I'm figuring things out, it's just like people will kind of realize it's like, oh, it's the whole thing. It's not just this anymore. It's like, we do this so we can also get this, and so we can also get this. It's the whole thing. It might not be all at once, and I think I trust myself enough to be like, but it's for me before it's for anybody else. And I think that's kind of why and how I've made a lot of decisions and what I do in music and everything. It's like, don't think about the noise, don't think about the hype. It's not real until it's in front of you. So, yeah, that's where the intention comes in.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Okay. That kind of goes back to something we were talking about earlier, too, about that you're happy with this thing and it's ready to come out. And you've kind of got it how you want it. And obviously, if you're going to be stoked on it, it's going to be better, I think, just in general, because people are going to pick up on that too. Right? People at live shows or even just seeing yourself online, you'll feel that it's actually you're passionate about it rather than just fulfilling a contractual obligation or whatever.
JAYWOOD That's exactly it. I was fully going to put out this album without being signed. And I'm happy that I'm able to do it and more people are able to hear it. And that's something I'm incredibly grateful for. The idea that the label has signed me based on this album more than anything. So it's like, okay. That for me was like, you're heading in the right direction.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah, I guess. This is going to be on vinyl. You're going to have a lot it's a lot much bigger, just all around release. Because the last one was just digital only, right?
JAYWOOD Yeah, this one's a bigger push. Oh, man. I had the trippiest experience of just like I got a message from my boss at the old music store I used to work at, HMV. And she sent the picture of my CD coming in the new releases. And I'm like, I don't know. It hits so hard. For some reason. I remember working new release day. I remember putting out new CDs and to see my CD kind of pop up in my old music store. It's just like, oh, shit. That's unreal on so many levels. And I think that for me was like, oh, this is very different than anything, for sure.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Well, that's kind of a cool indicator of it too. Because I'm sure there's a lot of larger scale, bigger, higher profile things happening. But just to focus on that one and then kind of make that connection is cool.
JAYWOOD Yeah, it was huge. I think it meant more than a lot. It just meant so much. When I saw that, I was like, wow, it still fully hasn't hit. But it's just a crazy feeling more than anything.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Yeah. So where can people find this record? I mean, I assume at this point it's on all the streaming services that everyone uses. But where else can they get a pick up copy, physicals or things like that?
JAYWOOD It'll be at, like, Sunrise. Well, I was working at HMV before it became Sunrise, but it'll be there. And it sounds available on Bandcamp, SoundCloud. You can order it physically on Bandcamp on the Captured Tracks website. And yeah, it sounds like I'll be in some record stores too, which is super cool.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO It is cool. It's cool. It's cool. First of all, the record stores didn't die because of the pandemic. And then secondly, that you can have your stuff in there where you used to work.
JAYWOOD It’s very crazy.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO So the good thing about this being a podcast is someone could hear it the day comes out, or they could hear it a year later. What's the best way to find out what you're up to as far as shows, as far as new music, things like that?
JAYWOOD I think Instagram is probably the way to go. Instagram, it's probably the one social media reliably on the most and actually posting. So Instagram. Which is jaywood. J-A-Y. Three Ys. Wood and I'm also on Twitter and TikTok and all that stuff. But I'm on there.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Instagram is the one, though. Instagram is the one.
JAYWOOD Instagram is the one. It's the thing that will bring you to all the other things.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Right on. Well, I'm really happy that this records out. I mean, it sounds like something you've been building towards for a long time. And it's exciting to see it. It's exciting to see this whole thing coming to fruition for you too, and getting signed and getting this attention because you've been plugging away for a while and you've been making good music. So it's always cool to see someone from the local community who has kind of been through it and has put in the work and finally getting rewarded for it.
JAYWOOD I appreciate that, Sam. Thank you so much. It's always, wow. For me, it's not felt like I've been grinding, but maybe on the outside it seems that way. It's like I've been doing this thing. It goes back to that whole, I'm just doing it. For me, it's like, I don't know what else doing if I wasn't doing this. And I'm just really grateful that it's kind of panning out this way. And it's having support like Witchpolice Radio, like having Manitoba music and having my community to kind of lean on to kind of pick me up when I'm like, fuck, this shit is not working out, has been really helpful and definitely helped me get to this point. So I'm grateful equally to the community for its support because I would not be without it. And that's why I'll constantly still be at shows and I'll be booking shows and I'll be trying to do stuff locally as much as possible because I love my city and I'm not going to forget it, no matter what happens.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO That's awesome. As someone who obsesses over Winnipeg music, it's always good to hear.
JAYWOOD I ain't going anywhere.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO Right on.