Checking In: Jay Wile Puts the Pieces Back Together
“Our community is innovative and [will] adapt to this new culture”
By Raoul Hernandez,
1:45PM, Mon. Sep. 21, 2020
ATX’s Frank Ocean? So some suggested: “‘If Frank is the second coming of Jesus, is this the third?’ wrote one user of the smooth Texas singer, born Justin Wiley,” reported Rachel Rascoe in May 2019. “The comparison emerged from a mysterious video upload of 2017 track ‘Numb’ to Youtube as a new Ocean track.” A summer video of “Honest” rolls equally plaintive.
Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?
Jay Wile: I live on the Eastside with my roommates. We’re all fortunate to have jobs during this time that allow us to work from home, so we’re doing our best to remain safe and do our part and stay home. It’s been tough not being able to see our friends or to move around freely as we used to, but I’m glad that I have these friends here to live with and get through this time together.
AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?
JW: My band and I were gearing up for my SXSW debut. We were working hard in rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the event being canceled. I also had a project I was wrapping up on that got paused when everything shut down.
Now, with everything shifted, it’s been a process putting the pieces back together in this new world we’re entering.
AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?
JW: Our community is innovative and I’m sure that we’re going to adapt to this new way of culture. Though nothing currently can replace a live event, there’s still room for connection and community online/virtually. Twitch has been a new platform for me to discover.
I’ve gone down many rabbit holes about music production and watching live performances. Combining that with the chat room or an app like Discord is a new experience that I’ve come to enjoy. I believe we must find pockets like these in this time to continue to build our community and share our lives with each other.
AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?
JW: My work situation works well for me: I’ve got all of my recording equipment and my instruments set up in my room. I typically work on my own, though many of my collaborators will send me stuff throughout the week that they’re working on, and we work together in that way. One day, I’ll go back into a studio, but this process and workflow allows me to do my best work.
AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?
JW: I’ve been playing a grab bag of music since quarantine first began. It’s a mix of classics from Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Lauryn Hill to lots of bluesy/soulful guitar stuff from Lianna la Haves and Orion Sun. I’ve also been dancing a lot to albums. Specifically, the new Duckwrth and Victoria Monet albums are both so groovy.
I love listening to music as a fan, both current music and the classics. I love hearing the sonics and the production style, and maybe that’s the music nerd in me, but I'm truly a fan of the people I work with and the musicians I listen to and invest my time in. I appreciate the art, especially these days.
Really, it transports you to a different world.
Check out the entire Checking In series.