meet day wave, the california native creating a new surf sound
As we exclusively premiere the video for new single “Come Home Now,” get to know the Oakland musician who'd rather be watching made for TV movies.
Jackson Phillips must have a strange Netflix queue. Over the course of our interview, the 25-year-old frontman of jangly surf pop project Day Wave and I discuss Stephen King adaptations, Disney Channel original movies, and Gregg Araki's 90s filmography. Phillips is also a fan of David Attenborough, whose BBC nature series Life captivated himself and bandmates all throughout Day Wave's recent European tour. "We had those DVDs in the van and I just got so into watching them, especially the insect ones. Our live shows were amazing, but I really couldn't wait to watch those episodes," he laughed over the phone.
The Oakland native treated these transatlantic crowds to his unique blend of sun-soaked guitar hooks and snappy synth beats -- the same sounds that have opened Blonde Redhead and Albert Hammond Jr.'s recent US shows. Fittingly for a lo-fi film buff, Phillips kept a VHS video diary of Day Wave's European dates, documenting everything from the band's Dutch dumpster diving escapades to its adventures frolicking through fallen leaves. This hazy home footage forms Day Wave's newest music video for bittersweet single "Come Home Now." As we premiere the video, get to know the dude who ditched jazz drums to create guitar-driven dream pop.
When did you start making music?
I was always into music from the time I was little. I remember getting really into buying CDs in second grade. That's all I ever used to do on the weekends -- go to Warehouse or Tower Records and sort through stacks.
Do you remember what the first CD you ever bought was?
I think it was the single for Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise. My parents only let me get a single so it'd be cheaper, and it was definitely the clean version. But now that I remember, I got into it because of Weird Al's cover. I probably had a Weird Al full length somewhere around -- Bad Hair Day, that was the one! Other than that, I was really into skateboarding. I skated from about third to ninth grade, but stopped because I kept hurting myself. I was practicing drums all the time, so I didn't want to break my wrist and have to sit out playing in bands.
Did you have any terrible band names for early projects?
They weren't that bad, one was called Corduroy.
That's a pretty sick name, actually!
I thought so! But I was the drummer, so I didn't have much control over anything, and at that point I didn't really know how to make my own songs.
What sets Day Wave apart from your projects in the past? The Corduroy days…
When I went to college, that's when I started working on my own songs for my last band, Carousel. At the time, I only knew how to make songs using pianos or synthesizers because that was the only other instrument I could play, apart from drums. Day Wave came about because I wanted to get a guitar and make something that was more guitar-based, something a little more raw sounding. I felt like there was a lot of electronic music coming out at that moment, and I wanted to move away from piano work. I was getting a little bored.
In terms of guitar-based stuff, who or what has inspired your newer sound?
I was listening to a lot of the Beach Boys and other 60s pop stuff, but I was also listening to so much New Order, Joy Division, and even bands like My Bloody Valentine. But most of the songs I've released so far have come out of that New Order space, for sure.
So tell us about this music video. What's the track about and what was the direction with the visuals?
The video ended up being a recap of the touring we've done over the last few months. I'd toured with Blonde Redhead and Albert Hammond Jr. in the States, so the recent European dates were a combination of a couple headline shows, some festivals, and a few support shows. We played with DMAs in Holland, we played a Rolling Stone festival in Germany and headlined in London. We had released a 7 inch vinyl in the UK that had been getting some plays on BBC 1, so it was really wonderful to see that support for a headlining show. Everything was such a blur because every night we were up so late, sometimes we'd lose track of which country we were actually in. I'd never been to Belgium and really enjoyed it; Ghent was such a cool city. Lyrically, my idea behind the song wasn't so literal -- "Come Home Now" -- but I think the tour footage fits the general vibe and energy of the song because it's lots of moving and road shots, but also contemplative.
What's most exciting to you about the future?
I'm pretty excited to get new music out very soon. I should have something in the beginning of the new year, and that's where my focus is at. That, and Gregg Araki's stuff -- I've been re-watching The Doom Generation, it's the best!
Text Emily Manning
Photography Pooneh Ghana