Jayda G’s DJ sets are as fun to watch as they are to listen to

The Canadian-born, Berlin-based electronic musician loses herself in her ebullient soul, disco and house music, and it's easy to follow suit

FORTH: JAYDA G with INVISIBLE CITY SOUND SYSTEM and MILCH at 500 Keele, Saturday (August 11). 10 pm. $20. universe.com.

“It’s funny because the whole DJ/producer thing came out of the blue for me,” Jayda Guy, aka Jayda G, reveals about her accidental success as a DJ. “I was always DJing and had started producing, but the end goal was never to become an international touring DJ.”

When she started out, Guy’s priorities were firmly within the realm of academia, pursuing her master’s degree in Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Those goals shifted once her profile raised to the point where she was getting booked for gigs around the world. So she relocated to Berlin to bring her closer to the European touring circuit while still committing to finishing her thesis. 

Coming up in a thriving electronic scene like Vancouver’s, alongside others like LNS, Pender Street Steppers, Hashman Deejay and Cloudface, where they collectively made what she describes over the phone as “a very slow, chill, methodical kind of sound,” Guy quickly stood out for her jubilant, uninhibited performance style. Dancing to her own selections, mouthing the words to the hooks of songs, Guy leads her audiences by a strong example, making the ebullient soul, disco and house in her sets as fun to watch as they are to listen and dance to.

“The thing about music is that it has always been something that puts me in a place where I can let go and be free,” she explains. “That’s always what I want people to feel when they’re seeing me play, too.”

Guy explains that seeing what people respond to in cities across the globe has also informed how she produces her own music. If her recent output is any indication, it’s a method that seems to be working. 

Last year during her set at Amsterdam’s Dekmantel, Guy teased her own remix of her track Diva Bitch, which featured the vocals of frequent collaborator Alexa Dash. The laidback house song with its audacious refrain perfectly fit in the middle of a mix that started with The Staples Singers and ended with TLC, and made for a glorious climax to her performance that set record collectors in a fury once the song finally got cut to vinyl.

Her most recent EP Sacred Spaces, released in June by her very own label JMG Recordings, features the return of Dash as well as a collaboration with Guy’s brother, Sol, sees her furthering her sound even more, with daring cuts like Sestra’s Cry, which is driven by a folk chant but still anchored by an insistent beat.

Her focus now is recording her debut album, set to be released by JMG and Ninja Tune’s Technicolour. She says it’s too early to tell what it’ll end up sounding like because she wants to treat the experience as one from which she can develop and grow. She adds, “I believe you need to push yourself and try new things, sometimes they stick and sometimes they don’t.”

One of the other ways she’s challenging herself is through her radio show, JMG Sessions, which will appear on NTS, The Lot Radio NYC and Red Light Radio Amsterdam. Guy describes it as “just a platform for me to do my thing, and not be inhibited by what people are necessarily expecting me to sound like.”

Whether she’s writing, touring, running a label or making a mix for her radio show, Guy’s focus seems solely set on seizing the moment and opportunity she’s built for herself. 

“The train only passes you once, you gotta get on while it’s going. That’s where I’m at right now and I just want to see what happens putting my full energy into this,” she says. Now that she’s successfully written and defended her thesis, she can do just that, and given how she’s already accomplished so much without even DJing full time, this is an exciting moment in her career when she can really prove what she’s capable of. 

music@nowtoronto.com | @therewasnosound

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