By Alma Reed
We recently caught up with JJ Wilde to find out more about her EP, her approach to creativity and to find out more about the person behind the music. Check out our interview with her below.
Before we talk about your music and your EP, can you share with us a little about yourself? I know that you are from Canada and that you have been writing for awhile. What was your childhood like? How did music become such an important aspect to your life?
Well music has always been a huge part of my life. My parents always had music playing in our house growing up. Often I’d wake up on a Saturday to them blaring it in the living room while they did a house clean. Anything we do really is accompanied by music. Cooking, gatherings, house work. Also growing up my older brother had a big influence in my music taste and he also played guitar. Being my older brother I looked up to him in that sense and asked him to teach me how to play when I was about 14/15. My extended family is quite close as well and all play music so our get together usually end in jams.
I know that your brother played the guitar and he taught you how to play at the age of 15. Do you have any formal music training? What other instruments do you play? And which ones would you like to learn to play?
The only training I have is from him, he taught me a few basic chords and would teach me how to play any song I asked him, and from there I taught myself the rest. No formal training. I can also play harmonica a bit and like to sit down at a piano and plunk away writing. I’m not very good at any of it but enough to write out my thoughts with a tune behind it.
What was the biggest sacrifice you had to make to be where you are now?
There have been a few sacrifices in my life for this. I’ve quit and been fired from more than one job because they refused to give me time off to tour, but my answer was always the same. No part time/ full time job was ever going to get in the way. To me it doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice because I know this is what I want to do. It just seemed more like a step to get to where I want to be. That’s how I look at most things, I sacrifice time with my family and friends, financial stability, relationships. But honestly it’s not really a sacrifice, more like a compromise.
I read that you and Frederick Thaae wrote all the songs and played all the instruments for the EP. How did you ago about picking the members of your band? Can you tell us about them?
Well the guitarist (Dan Bossenberry) is my cousin, so that was an easy choice. And then the bass/keys/synth player (Steve Lavery) is a friend from my home town, again easy choice! And the other two members (Sammy Darling) and drummer (Morgan Doctor) I auditioned and instantly knew they were the ones! It was a fun process and I definitely think I got the right mix of people.
Wild Eyes and Steady Hands; Can you tell me more about the name of this EP? I find it poetic and wondered how you came up with the title?
This ep is very self descriptive in the songs as most of them come from personal experience. So the title is sort of self descriptive as well. It’s kind of about being a dreamer, and also keeping yourself together when you don’t feel together at all.
I read that you had about 500 hundred songs ready. How hard was it to choose the 4 for the EP? These 4 songs are extremely important since they are your introduction to the world. Can you tell us about the process of picking the songs and what the 4 songs say about you?
Well out of the original lot of songs it wasn’t that difficult to choose four. We just started by going through and seeing what voice notes had potential and working them up to full songs. I never worried too much about the ones we didn’t choose because they are still there and can be kept for the next lot of music or the one after that. It was more about feel. We also wrote a few together in the room that just felt right.
Can you walk us trough your creative process?
Usually I start with an idea or a melody and make a voice note of it. My process is different from song to song but if I have an idea that comes to my mind I make a voice note of it to make sure I don’t forget it and then go back and work on it. Sometimes I’ll sit down with an idea and a whole song will come out.
In a previous interview you mentioned that your music “is not perfect." I love the honestly of this statement. Can you tell me the main things that you are not willing to sacrifice when it comes to your music?
Well I don’t ever want to sacrifice the feel of it. As long as it feels like me and it makes me feel something when I listen to it or sing it, then I know that I can stand behind it. If a song gets too far away from that I end up tossing it. And not to say that those songs aren’t good, but I can usually tell what will hold true in time for me by how it makes me feel while writing it.
Any plans for a full-length LP? What can you tell us about that?
There are plans! I’m constantly writing. I actually have it written already just putting the finishing touches on mixes and deciding when to release it. I’m very excited about the new songs.
Do you struggle with insecurities, such as having that nagging voice telling you that you don't deserve what is happening in your life? If yes how do you deal with it?
I think everyone deals with some sort of insecurities in their life. I constantly wonder if I’m enough or if I’m even good at all. But then I squash those thoughts quickly and try to stay present and enjoy the experiences as they come. If you let negativity in it can quickly take over, so I just try to stay positive and remember that no matter what, this has been my dream for a long time.
Touring with The Struts and Glorious Sons… Does all of this feel real? Playing your own music in venues full of people singing your songs out loud? Can you believe it?How do you stay grounded throughout all this?
It is pretty surreal at times. I don’t think too much about it but more focus on the present moment. I mean of course it’s exciting and I love every minute of it but I try to just focus on making sure the show is great, on feeling every emotion, nervous energy, excitement. My family keeps me very grounded as well. Especially my sister, I’m not sure if I would be able to do what I do without her.
What other plans do you have after this tour?
Yes we are going home for a week or so and then August 6-7 opening for Incubus and then directly following that (August 9- 25) going on the road with Reignwolf across the states. I’m very excited!
Is it true you are planning a tour with Incubus?
We are doing two dates with them, that’s all so far.
Are there any crazy or funny road stories that you could share?
The road has been very entertaining with this band. But what happens on the road stays there !