GROOVING INSIDE THE BOX; THINKING OUTSIDE OF IT.
Photo by Farah Nosh
Interview by Madeleine Johnsson
Text by Hadley Stack
Style by Layla Soeker
By day, she is Jayda Guy, an environmental toxicologist, studying how pollution affects marine mammals; by night, she is “Jayda G” - spinning records on dance floors from Vancouver to Berlin. Performing across the world wasn’t Jayda G’s intended path, but the Canadian DJ follows no rules but her own. I first caught Jayda performing in Berlin along side DJ Fett Burger and Double Dancer; the venue – which party-goers access by way of a dark graffitied staircase - could barely contain the energy of her set. Overlooking the buzzing, grimy streets of Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg, the dance floor was hopping until the sun came up. There’s no denying that Jayda G knows how to throw a good party: her energy is as infectious as her music is groovy. Jayda’s taste in music draws from that of her parents and their extensive and lovingly assembled record collection. Having grown up surrounded by such musical depth and diversity – soul and funk from dad; jazz from mom - Jayda has forged a unique sound, one that makes it impossible not to dance along with her. Studying piano and violin into adulthood, Jayda’s musical influences draw, also, from a classical foundation - not surprising given her discipline in both music and academia.
On the phone, Jayda is effusive and warm, taking time to chat between playing shows and interviewing with her hometown Gazette. While she’s not performing or studying, Jayda spends her time amassing a vinyl collection of her own, searching for records from Berlin to Oslo. The mention of her record collection leads us to the million-dollar question for any DJ: “What is your favorite record?” Jayda answers humbly – she laughs and admits that Aretha Franklin probably takes the cake; “The tracks that I love aren’t anything out of the ordinary. I just think that sometimes people forget how awesome they are.” Jayda’s sincere love and appreciation for music, in every genre, is apparent in her live sets. Her lack of pretension has allowed her to leap ahead of DJs who perform more standard, predictable sets. “When I’m on tour and I come into a new city, the first thing I do is ask the promoters where the best record store is. I love to dig!” And what happens when Jayda finds a record she loves? God forbid you’re nearby. “I get way too excited, I just start jumping up and down. And whoever is around me has to hear about it for the rest of the day!” But any self-proclaimed music lover can understand the true thrill that accompanies finding that tune.
As fun as it is, the DJ lifestyle can also be taxing; sleeping during the day, working through the night, and waking up in different cities week in and week out. Parties, particularly in Berlin, are wild, and playing at clubs until the wee hours of the morning can be draining. Even for Jayda, a ball of sincere and unbridled energy, the lifestyle is exhausting. “I love to party, I love to dance. But I am a morning person! Staying up until four and five in the morning is no easy feat.” How does she stay focused, excited, and inspired to keep plowing ahead? “The biggest thing that has inspired me is being at home and centering myself – getting in touch with myself and my needs and what makes up Jayda.”
While the community of DJs and producers is traditionally male dominated, Jayda and other pioneering female DJs across the world are making slow but steady inroads into the field, a battle she could not have won without a strong community back home. “I have been really fortunate. I was lucky to find a community [in Vancouver] that was receptive to me, and I can say that for a lot of the Vancouver crews for sure.” The mantra, she says, is simple: “If you’re a good DJ, you’re a good DJ.” And good DJ, she is. Last year, Jayda G collaborated with Sex Tags label co-founder DJ Fett Burr on her debut EP YC Party Track, before releasing tracks of her o: Jaydaisms and ixth Spirit of the Bay.
Even as she moves further into the spotlight, Jayda never loses a sense of her roots: she opened her latest two-hour sonic trip at NYC’s iconic Boiler Room with the unearthly sounds of killer whales. “You have to be confident in yourself. If the audience is there for the right reasons, they’re going to pick up on that. I try to bring my own personal energy. The message – 'music has no boundaries' – is to really get people out of their heads and into their hearts and feel the music! Music is supposed to move you – it makes you feel inspired and alive! When you put boundaries around it, you lose that a lot.” Bouncing and grooving until the sun comes up over the gritty streets of Kreuzberg, there’s no denying that Jayda Guy has found her element.