Jayda G, the Grammy-nominated writer, producer, DJ, environmental toxicologist, campaigner and broadcaster, is set to return with her new full length album ‘Guy’. Co-produced with Jack Peñate (who has previously worked with the likes of SAULT, David Byrne and Adele), with contributions from Lisa-Kaindé Diaz (of Ibeyi), Ed Thomas (Stormzy, Nia Archives, Jorja Smith) and more.
The album arrives on the back of a busy few years that have seen her Grammy-nominated (for her mid-pandemic single “Both Of Us”, created with producer Fred again..); release a trove of high-profile remixes for the likes of Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa; tour the worlds biggest festival and stages including Glastonbury and Coachella; release a compilation for the renowned DJ Kicks series and highly praised collaboration with Aluna; appear as a guest judge on BBC’s ‘Glow Up’; marry her childhood sweetheart in her hometown of Grand Forks, BC (in the same house her parents got married decades earlier); and contribute to the immersive installation ‘Undercurrent’ (New York, June ‘21) which focussed on the Climate Crisis, alongside artists like Khruangbin, Nosaj Thing, Mount Kimbie and Bon Iver.
The new album ‘Guy’ brings Jayda’s own voice and words more prominently into focus than ever before, across 13 tracks that draw on her House, Disco, RnB and Soul roots while emphasizing her pop songwriting sensibilities, interspersed with archival recordings of her late father, the eponymous William Richard Guy.
Those recordings — of which there are more than 11 hours, made shortly before he passed away when Jayda was just 10 years old — form the bedrock of the album’s narrative, capturing a small snapshot of the American experience, told through the eyes of a young African American man. Through a combination of direct quotes and Jayda’s deeply personal lyrics she paints a picture of his life: growing up in a rough Kansas neighborhood and his various interactions with neighborhood bullies, the police and local authorities (“Scars”, “Circle Back Around”); from being married and enlisted in the Vietnam War by the age of 18 and returning to find his wife with another man (“Heads Or Tails”, “Lonely Back In O”); moving to Washington DC where he had a side-hustle as a nighttime radio DJ only to be inadvertently caught up in the 1968 race riots (“Blue Lights”); and finally his new life in Canada where he married Jayda’s mother and sought to better not just his own life but those of his children and community too (“Meant To Be”). The album also pays tribute to Jayda’s Grandmother, and the resilience of and strength of Black women (“When She Dance”), and takes in several more reflective turns, examining not just the grief of her father’s passing (“15 Foot”, the title a reference to something Jayda’s mother wrote to describe the her own relationship with grief) but also what researching his life and listening to these tapes posthumously has meant to Jayda (“Your Thoughts”, “Sapphires Of Gold”).
“I wanted the album to be a blend of storytelling, about the African American experience, death, grief, and understanding,” explains Jayda. “It's about my dad and his story, and naturally in part my story, too, but it’s also about so many people who wanted more for themselves and went on a search to find that. This album is just so much for people who have been oppressed and who have not had easy lives.”
Despite the at times somber nature of the source material, the album ultimately proves to be an uplifting and positive experience, both musically and from the message it delivers.
“I think the biggest thing that really drove me to understand more of his life is that my dad, just a few years before he was diagnosed, had worked so hard on himself. He went back to school to become a social worker, examining himself and his own demons, and really working on himself in the process. And I think it's just a testament that it's never too late to look at yourself and try to understand why you are the way you are, and strive to be better. Understanding the Black man's experience, Black people's experience in terms of America, and rising above what society tells you you're supposed to be.”