Jai Waetford is in the middle of a big growth and shift in his artistry and it’s really exciting to witness. The twenty year old singer-songwriter was first introduced to listeners when he was only fifteen. Over the years he’s evolved as an artist whilst he’s explored his sound and shifted his direction to reflect his personal growth. After all, these years are some of the most crucial in anyone’s life, so it only seems appropriate that he’s evolved sonically to reflect that shift. The result of this growth and reflection is the bold and definitive EP ‘Figure It Out’. This coming of age collection is not only vulnerable and honest but it also shows a fun and genuine side to him as he gets a little playful on the production. Shifting towards R&B, hip-hop and dark pop elements, this EP also serves as a reintroduction to listeners in it’s finest form.
in the lead up to the release of the EP, Waetford hit the road again to get re-acquainted with audiences. This time he joined Israeli singer-songwriter Dennis Lloyd for his debut Australian shows and this allowed him to showcase his new sound in an open format.
Sitting backstage at 256 Wickham in Brisbane whilst waiting to do his soundcheck, he was all playful and calm. Explaining about the tolls of touring and recording on his relationship, he quickly shifted to the excitement that he was experiencing playing this new music to an older crowd. Diving into the creative process of this new sound, his collaboration with Carmouflage Rose and the vulnerability that this new self discovery has opened up, we kept returning to the importance of growing up. Check out the chat HERE;
TB: Your new EP ‘Figure It Out’ will be released on May 24 and hears you reintroducing yourself to listeners in a whole new light. You’ve been working on this EP with your producer James for a little while now so what was inspiring or pushing you creatively in the studio to go further in this direction?
JW: Honestly, this EP is just a collection of fun times we’ve had in the studio. We didn’t know we were writing an EP at the time, we were just making a big catalogue of songs. These tracks are still me and James getting to know each other as an artist and as a producer. It’s like the proper raw first time of us discovering the sound. Every bar on the EP is the first time trying. So we decided to make an EP from the songs we were working on.
It’s a new side of me, but it also came really naturally because I’ve been working on different music compared to the stuff I released back in the day for a while now. But it’s nice to finally share that with people. I feel like artists forget how far people fall behind sometimes because we are the ones creating the music. The people you are sharing it with are still listening to your last release so you need to re-introduce yourself and your sound to them. It important to get that music out and I’m so excited for people to hear it.
TB: When was the moment for you guys when you were demoing tracks and just went “Yep, this is it, this is how we want the new music to feel”?
JW: We had a session with Carmouflage Rose for a song called ‘Honestly’ which I recently put out and I feel like that was the first time James and I clicked on a level where we didn’t need to use words anymore. We just connected on a sonical wave length and knew what each other wanted and how to produce that. We were doing sessions every week and I was flying up to Brisbane for a couple of weeks in a row. He has a studio on this street actually, and we were just spending a shit load of time getting to know each other and making music. And this is the product of it.
TB: ’Honestly’ hears you teaming up with Carmouflage Rose, which some people saw as quite left centred so how did this collaboration come about?
JW: It was pretty natural! We were in the Sony Music studios and Carmouflage was in room A and I was in room B and we were just working on our own stuff. They were struggling writing a chorus for ‘Honestly’ at the time, so it was actually originally a Carmouflage Rose track, and I went in for ten minutes and laid down a chorus and they were like “yo, re-do the verse” *laughs*. So then we just left it with Carmouflage for the second verse and it was super collaborative. We really got along and I really loved his artistic vision and how he worked because it was so left of field. His writing is so unorthodox like I had no idea what is going on when I worked with him but it sounded sick. It’s cool because we are really good friends now. I was actually in the studio with him until 3am last night. So it’s really nice that a genuine relationship was built from that.
TB: This EP is a very mature collection of tracks for you that hears you getting quite vulnerable and raw. So what would you say is the most vulnerable moment for you as a songwriter on the EP?
JW: I wrote a song called ‘Running Cold’ and it’s about accepting your issues with who you are as a person and opening up to a someone to the state where you’ve got nothing to hide anymore because you know they will accept you for who you are. That can be really scary for someone to do because when you get in a relationship you are always the best version of yourself as you are constantly aware of what you do around them as you want them to like you. But this was the first time that I opened up without any fear of rejection. So I would say that is the most vulnerable moment for me on the EP.
TB: ’Friends’ is a pretty hype track about trust within a relationship. How have you found your dating life has been impacted from being in the spotlight and travelling?
JW: It’s honestly so hard. It sounds so bad but when I started dating my girlfriend I said to her “this is going to be so unfair on you sometimes. I have a dream and I have goals that I want to reach and to do that It requires me to travel and sometimes it requires me to leave with a days notice to go to the other side of the world. Sometimes I don’t know what is going to happen so I can’t protect you from that”. The lifestyle can be really last minute and she was a bit weird about it at first but she’s come to understand it and is super chill. We just make the most of the time we have together.
TB: You recently did a surprise performance at Groovin The Moo during Carmouflage Rose’s set. So how was being able to perform in front of a festival crowd. Because they can be quite different?
JW: It was fucking sick *laughs*. I was standing side of stage and Carmouflage was like “I want to bring out one of my good friends, this is Jai Waetford” and the crowd went crazy. I was like woah, Maitland goes really hard *laughs*. We played the track and it was received really well which was so sick. But Carmouflage Rose puts on a show! If you go to see him live you’re not there just to watch him you are there to really get into it.
TB: You’re currently on the road with Dennis Lloyd which must be a pretty exciting experience because I feel like this is the most authentic string of shows you’ve been able to do for your artistry. So from being able to play this new material live, what is one thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist?
JW: I find playing to a crowd that has no idea who you are much more rewarding when you get a reaction out of them. When you can play your original material and see the crowd getting into it, it’s a really cool feeling. On this tour it’s been really cool because some of the crowd has known the lyrics to ‘Friends’ and Honestly’ which is so sick because they are the hard tracks in the set. And this crowd is so much older compared to what I have played to in the past so it’s cool to be introduced to a new audience and also see the evolution of my fans who have grown up with me throughout my journey. The one that have followed me since The X Factor are growing up and experiencing all the same things as I am, so it’s great to see that in person.
TB: Looking back at the early days of your career you’ve actually done most of your growing up in the spotlight which is quite a daunting thing. How have you managed to try balance having a career at a young age and focusing on growing up and living life at the same time?
JW: Honestly it is pretty hard, but it’s not hard because I know it’s hard, it’s because I can imagine what it would be like to go to the shops as a fifteen year old with my mates and not get mobbed. And sometimes I missed that. But that’s just a part of it though. It’s truly a blessing of what I get to do.
I say this all the time, but the one thing that really helped me through it all was my friends. I have five core friends who have been with me since day one and have not changed. If I don’t see at least one of them each day then something is wrong *laughs*. We are super tight. We are the boys! *Laughs*. It sounds so silly but I need them. They tell me when I’m being a dickhead and there is no egos or expectations with them because they know me too well.
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
JW: Let’s go!
TB: My pre show pump up song is…
JW: Right now it’s ‘Chingy’ by Amine!
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
JW: A go! I love it!
TB: Most mornings I…
JW: Sleep in *laughs*.
TB: The emoji that best describes my new EP ‘Figure It Out’ is…
JW: The flames!
TB: If I could have any super power it would be…
JW: To be able to control water like Avatar; The Last Airbender. I don’t know why, but I just think it’s super cool. Imagine being able to control water and just freezing people, it would be so sick!
‘Figure It Out’ is out now!