I’m super into academia,” says Jayda G, an unexpected declaration from the Vancouver-raised DJ and producer whose career exploded in 2017 with unashamedly retro sets fusing soul, disco and classic house. “I’ve been on a full-on science track all my life,” she explains. “I wanna get my Masters, then my PhD… I wanna be a professor...” Now she’s moved to Berlin, she’s still writing a thesis for her Masters in Environmental Toxicology, which involves “studying chemicals and how they affect marine mammals”.
It’s fair to say, though, that she’s been sidetracked by her other job of late. “This year’s been a big one for firsts,” she says. “My first big summer of festivals, my first proper Boiler Room at Dekmantel in Amsterdam, and my first tour in Australia.” Her impressive production career also took a turn into hypnotic dancehall grooves in 2017, with the ‘Monroe Bumpa’ single alongside Laylay following the lush electronic soul of last year’s breakthrough EP ‘Jaydaisms’ on her Freakout Cult label.
“The Dekmantel show was a big deal,” she tells us. “The response has been so huge and positive. I’m not a huge fan of being in front of the camera – my initial reaction was ‘I don’t wanna do it!’ But I said yes and I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to showcase my selections.”
Her reputation stands on the strength of those selections, and that Dekmantel set is a strong calling-card, kicking off amid the purest analogue soul (The Staple Singers’ ‘Let’s Do It Again’ and Paul Lewis’ take on Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’) and moving through classic house styles (Black Box, Drizabone, Loleatta Holloway, her own ‘Rishikesh’) to TLC’s ‘Creep’. Midway through there’s a powerful, strutting beat with affirmative lyrics from Alexa Dash, which she says will be her next, as-yet-untitled single. “We’re both super-stoked. Alexa has a really deep soulful voice and I wanted to showcase that.”
The New Year promises dates in South America, a remix for new DFA artist and the now Berlin-based Jayda’s neighbour Perel (“they asked me and I was super-down”), and possibly a new label to complement Freakout Cult, which she runs with reclusive DJ Fett Burger. Asked what future DJ sets will hold, and she’s very clear: “It’s about connecting with the audience, about creating a warmth and a positive vibe. I want people to be happy, to let go of their worries so they can be themselves, because that’s how I feel when I’m DJing. I try to stay authentic to the person I know I am, to be positive and uplifting, and I hope that comes across in the music I play.”
David Pollock is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter