Jayda G is a producer and DJ from the small city of Grand Forks, BC, whose uplifting house music has taken her around the world, from the hotspots of Berlin and Ibiza to tours in India, China, and Japan, as well as major festival stages, including Glastonbury and Coachella.
For her latest release, Jayda has come home.
Guy (released June 9, 2023, on Ninja Tune) is a warm mix of house, disco, and soul, and a tribute to Jayda’s father, William Richard Guy, who died when she was just 10 years old. It’s based on an archive of videotapes he recorded during his illness, documenting his life so his youngest daughter could later learn his stories: growing up in Kansas, serving in the Vietnam War, getting caught up in the 1968 race riots, and eventually emigrating to Canada, where he married Jayda’s mother and had three children. Jayda’s oldest sister had helped William create the recordings, and Jayda’s older brother, filmmaker and Canadian music business veteran Sol Guy, had turned them into his own documentary about family and grief. Pandemic lockdowns and performance cancellations gave Jayda the time for her own deep dive into this material.
“I had actually spent time with the tapes before,” says Jayda. “Every few years I would watch the first hour of the videotape, when my dad first talks about his cancer, and that he doesn’t have long to live. He really iterated how much he loves us and his family, and so that always was really comforting to me. But I hadn’t gone into as much detail. Like, where he was in the army, and what happened there. I was able to kind of sit with all the material, and give it time and energy. Because I knew that the process of writing this album, I wanted it to be very different, and I wanted to be intentional with that.”
Guy is a mix of Jayda’s trademark house, disco, and R&B styles, where audio excerpts of her dad’s tapes are used alongside her own lyrics, which bring his stories to life. It’s a departure from her 2019 debut album Significant Changes, which she made on her own in the studio. “That was literally just me,” she laughs. This time, the choice to collaborate – with British producer Jack Peñate, with writers Frances (Dua Lipa), Ed Thomas (Jorja Smith), and with friend Lisa-Kaindé Diaz of French electronic music duo Ibeyi — was an important part of her growth as a songwriter.
“I was a DJ and producer first,” she explains. “Songwriting, in terms of lyrics, and trying to convey certain messages, I don’t think I would’ve called myself that until maybe the last few years – especially with this album. Learning how to write lyrics by working with other people, where that’s all they do all the time, was really inspiring. We kind of took a chance on each other, bringing our vulnerabilities together. And I learned so much. I love throwing myself into situations where I have to adapt.”
While working on Guy, Jayda received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording for her 2021 single “Both of Us,” then later found herself doing a remix for Taylor Swift. She says she’s conscious not to let these major accolades distract her from who she is and her own artistic goals.
“It’s been wonderful, and I’m eternally grateful for the nomination – which opened a lot of doors for my career – but I try and think about it as little as possible,” she says, with a laugh. “You can be your own worst enemy and end up putting too much pressure on yourself, thinking, ‘Oh, is this going to win X, Y, and Z?’ That’s always a dangerous place to be in, when you’re a creative.”
In addition to music, Jayda G is an environmentalist with a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management, who’s the host of an upcoming feature length-documentary, Blue Carbon. Until then, she’ll be back on stage, bringing Guy to Europe’s biggest summer festivals.