JayWood wants his music to make his listeners feel good about themselves. It’s a goal JayWood, the moniker of Winnipeg-based musician Jeremy Haywood-Smith, had in mind when he started working on his sophomore album Slingshot. At the time, there weren’t many reasons for JayWood himself to feel a sense of joy; he was grieving the loss of his mother and reflecting on his experience as a young Black man living in a predominately white province of Manitoba amidst social uprisings in 2020. “I don’t think I’ve ever really felt activated or militant as much as I did the summer of 2020,” he said, commenting on his track “Shine.” “It was an exhausting time but I wanted to try to do something to commentate on everything that was happening.”
Through creating Slingshot, JayWood found escapism, comfort, and gratification. The album is conceptual in nature, built around a set of imagined characters and surreal interpretations of his own life which are meant to take place in the span of one day. Packed with intellectual, rhythmic tracks, Slingshot toes the line between classic indie rock and soulful bedroom pop. The album moves through lush beats on songs like “God Is A Reptile,” a jazzy and empowering track that describes working through insecurities, and hard-hitting, upbeat grooves like “All Night Long,” which speaks directly to social issues and the anxiety of impending climate collapse.
Celebrating the release of Slingshot, JayWood chats with Uproxx about Damon Albarn’s inspiration and being incredibly flexible in our latest Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Intentional, Vibey, Dense, Groovy
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
As something that can inspire some folks to make the art that they feel good about for themselves.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Portland is super dope, and they have all the vegan options.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
Maybe Damon Albarn? I just loved the idea of constantly being able to reinvent your image and your sound without needing to make a big deal about it. I’m inspired by change!
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
I don’t know if I’ve had the best meal of my life yet. Nothing comes to mind, I’m fully blanking.
What album do you know every word to?
Probably Demon Days by Gorillaz.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
It might be Paul McCartney, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to see him again but it was super special and fun.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
I love performing in casual clothing just because it’s super comfy but I should probably start dressing better tbh.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
I love Catatonic Youths on IG, that sh*t is too good. My biggest fear is ending up on there though.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
I think the whole Black Messiah album by D’Angelo has been played more times than I can count.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
“Summer Sonic Japan.” I’ve been wanting to go back to Japan for so damn long so this is me manifesting it.
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Mother by Cleo Sol is such a beautiful album, a good friend of mine recommended it and I really thought it was such a great gift so I think give it to the people you love.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
I remember we stayed at some tweens’ party house on my friends tour. It was pretty f*ckin gross tbh but the worst part was there were a bunch of drunk kids hanging out and there was like a little tween breakup happening while we trying to sleep. Also some kid tried to kiss everyone it was brutal.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I have a panther head on my right thigh that I got with a good friend of mine! We went to a place here in Winnipeg where there’s a gumball machine and what comes out of it you get tattooed, it was my first pick and I was like hell yeah! I got very lucky with that.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Oh jeez I haven’t listened to the radio in a while now but honestly anything super catchy will keep me listening.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Back in 2018 there were a series of moments I was going through a really rough time in my life and there were a small handful of people that helped me through that time. I was very hard to be around and hard to deal with but the fact that I was able to have a support system that helped me get back on track means the world to me. I won’t forget it.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
I’d say don’t try so hard and just stay in your own lane. Trust the process, go to therapy, go to the gym, stretch regularly, take more pictures with your family and friends and be kind to yourself and others. Also stop being a f*ck.
What’s the last show you went to?
I went to see a local band called Poodle Paddle. They just had their single release show and it was a lot of fun. I’m stoked to see what new music comes from Winnipeg.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
Super random but it might be Midsommar? I don’t know what it is about cults that gets me super intrigued but yeah that movie is great.
What’s one of your hidden talents?
I’m actually incredibly flexible and I can bend in a lot of fun ways.
Slingshot is out now via Captured Tracks. Get it here.