There are minimal artists that are able to transcend a spiritual connection from their music to their listeners, yet Jarryd James (JJ) was able to skillfully captivate his inner emotions onto a meticulously produced record titled High. The cohesive album encounters an array of sentiments from the possibilities of resurrecting love from a failed relationship in “Give Me Something” to the capacity of completely losing oneself in love, in the track “Do You Remember”. Jarryd James caught up with Local Wolves on the salvation he has acquired through music, collaborating with the mastermind producer, Malay, and the song that helped shape his formative musical beginnings.
What is one emotion you felt when your album High was completed? Did you feel a sense of relief or were you joyful that people would finally get to experience the record?
JJ — I was pretty happy… I had released a different version of kinda the same album in Australia, but this time around it had a few changes to the track listing… as an Australian releasing music in the US it can be pretty daunting, but I was just happy that I was even able to do it in the first place.
You recently worked with producer Malay, who is most notably known for his work with Frank Ocean, How was it like to work with him and what was the best advice he gave you?
JJ — Malay is a pretty low-key kinda guy. That’s one of the reasons I loved creating music with him… he doesn’t seem to be one for giving advice… he has an amazing ear for tones and sounds and details…and he didn’t get in the way of what I was doing lyrically or melodically etc. He’s a very respectful person to work with, I found.
Is there a distinctive difference between the festival audiences you play in Australia like Splendour in the Grass vs. American festivals such as Lollapalooza?
JJ — Well yes, at this point in my career they are much smaller than in Australia. I’m still very much starting out in America. In saying that, I played Bonnaroo and my crowd was very surprising, which was nice.
From your collaboration with Raury on “Do You Remember”, I can sense that you have a rap/hip-hop influence, is there a certain rap artist you’d ever like to collaborate with in the future?
JJ — I like to take that stuff on a case-by-case basis (collaborations), but I definitely would love to work with someone like J. Cole or Chance the Rapper.
In a past interview, you stated that you intend to make music for people to feel something. When performing live, is there a certain song that you felt broke the barrier between audience and artist, where you felt that people truly connected to you?
JJ — That can change, depending on the audience and the vibe in the room, but I have a song called “Undone” (it’s on the Australian version of the album) that people normally get right into.
Is there a singular album from your childhood that helped shape your formative love for music?
JJ — Probably Nilsson Schmilsson, by Harry Nilsson. I listened to that a lot when I was a kid. Such an amazing voice.
When you play music for no specific audience and you are just jamming out in solitude, do you think that some of the unreleased music you create on the spur of spontaneity would surprise your fans?
JJ — Maybe (laughs). Probably. When I’m playing around with vocal ideas they normally just consist of gibberish words because I never start with lyrics.
As you were working on your album High, did you find yourself obsessing over every little detail to make the final product absolutely perfect, or do you feel that leaving some minor flaws on the record ultimately craft a product that is organically special to your identity as an artist?
JJ — That’s a good question; there’s a thin, ever moving line between “perfect” and “human”, and I’m always trying to find it with each song. It’s one of the hardest but most enjoyable parts of making music in my opinion.
Is there a place you go to when the recording process becomes quite hectic and you just need a bit of headspace? Or do you consider yourself a person that finds their own therapeutic factor by remaining busy?
JJ — I don’t think I’ve ever felt that the recording process has become hectic. I love being locked away. I lose track of time and forget to eat.
Your song with Broods “1000x” is impeccably stunning, how were you able to convey both of your instrumental styles and emotions into one song?
JJ — Well firstly, thank you! And secondly— the song had already been written before Broods became involved in it, but the reason it has sounds similar to what they use would be because I wrote it with Joel Little, who also produces a lot of their music. He’s a human genius.
The minimalist approach of your music video for “Do You Remember” amazes me, how creatively involved are you in the music video process?
JJ — Thanks again… the way I see it, when the song is done and recorded, that’s my part in it, and then I like to pass it on to other talented individuals who I trust to make some more art that becomes attached to it. I care more about the overall mood and emotion of a video than I do about the actual content, so that’s where I normally put in my 2 cents.
What was the music scene like in Brisbane when you were growing up? How did your hometown influence the sound of the High project?
JJ — I didn’t actually grow up in Brisbane, I was born there but then grew up in a little country town out west called Dalby. There was no music scene at all. All of my influences were on recordings until I finished school and moved away from home.
In “Give Me Something”, you sing “Can anybody point out the pain in it?”, do you believe that love is something that should come with a warning label or a feeling that people should get completely lost in?
JJ — It’s kind of a rhetorical question… it’s referring to when love fails. If people knew that it wasn’t going to work, would they still try?
Is there one song on the album that you’d love for people to revisit when they’re around sixty years old that would make them feel limitless?
JJ — “Probably Sure Love” or “1000x”
Finally, you previously stated that you went through a state of depression that made your music go on hiatus, but with this album were you able to find a sense of healing? Now, can you say that you are happy with how your music positively effects not only you, but the thousands of people that your music personally touches?
JJ – I can honestly say that making music again has saved me from that in such a big way.. and yes, it’s not even just because of how it affects me personally, but how I see it affecting people who listen to it. It’s very humbling.