In terms of career paths, environmental toxicologist turned DJ and music producer is an unlikely progression but that's just what Vancouver's Jayda G has done. By day, she studies the effects of dangerous chemicals have on killer whales, and by night she runs her record label Freakout Cult, touring the world making people move to a silky mix of jazz, funk, house and soul music. Hey, both noble causes.
In Jayda's music production, her environmental action visibly bleeds into her music. Her tracks are reflections of her work with whales, and carry many of the same themes and messages. Before she makes her way to Australia for a full tour in April and to shower Inner Varnika festival goers with her soulful taste-making, we spoke to her about how she makes this connection between science and sound.
As well as being a DJ and producer, you're also an environmental toxicologist. How does your work in that area influence your music?
For me, when I'm making a track it's usually when I'm thinking about my other projects, and usually the tracks are named after them. The first EP I released in 2016 is called The Sound of Fuca, that refers to what's called the Juan de Fuca Strait which runs between Vancouver Island and Vancouver. It's where the majority of the killer whales live that are endangered and affected by dangerous chemicals. References like that that bleed into my music. I guess my main goal, artistically speaking, is to bring in the scientific work that I've done and meld it somehow with the music.
It's hard to escape blending your passions, eventually they merge and start to inform one another.
Exactly, I would love them to fully merge! If I could find a job where I could do something with sciences and music all in one job that would be amazing! I always want to marry the two. And I think it's important for people like yourself to ask me about my work as a toxicologist because that means that other people are going to hear about it or maybe look it up themselves. It helps communicate the scientific work that I do on a broader scale, which I think is super important. Science can be very isolating sometimes.
I guess you get this cross pollination of audiences, and people who don't usually research scientific issues can gain access via your music.
Yeah exactly, or even just an understanding from people that there's a greater world out there, and people do study it and it's not as foreign or strange of a concept as people might think
Your sound feels very warm and natural, it seems to have a kind of environmental ambience. Is this intentional?
For sure. For me making music is very personal, so I guess when I make a song it's a time for me to hone in on what I'm feeling personally. And when I'm in the best place as myself that is usually when I'm in nature, when I'm walking around in the woods or walking by the sea or being immersed in the things that make me feel centred and one with myself. For me to make a track I bring those feelings in because that's what I feel is truly me. So definitely I would say the nature aspect of what I experience on the day to day bleeds in there for sure.
Do you ever sample sounds from your field work to use when you are producing music?
I have done that before. I try and use animal sounds, like at the beginning of my Boiler Room set I started off with killer whale sounds. The crazy thing about killer whales is that they have their own language, which is super tripy and smart. It comes out every so often, I had a show recently with a friend who goes by the name Telephones and he's really into bird and insect sounds and we had a back to back night, so we just had this weird crazy set of like animal sounds and cricket sounds and rain sounds mixed up with the music and it was a totally tripped out nature experience
Like if David Attenborough was a DJ, that's your alter ego?
Exactly, how did you know?! It's really fun in that way to use references that are really true to yourself in terms of incorporating a completely different part of my life that I lead and to bring that into the sets for people to hear.
Text Shannon May Powell
Image courtesy of the artist