Intimacy, Discovery, and Being ‘Together’: An Interview with Wolfjay

Melbourne’s Wolfjay dives into the growth and vulnerability surrounding their sublime debut EP ‘Together’, a transformative and euphoric three-track introduction.
Stream: ‘Together EP’ – Wolfjay


Wolfjay’s glistening pop music is a truly beautiful thing to behold: Like a kiss on the cheek from an old friend, or the first smell of spring, the Melbourne artist and music producer born Jack Alexander has a way of engrossing their listeners in music’s sublime euphoria. Following 2018’s breakout single “She Calls to Me,” Wolfjay recently returned with their debut three-track EP Together, released August 23, 2019 via Alyse Vellturo‘s Sleep Well Records.

Together EP - Wolfjay

Together EP – Wolfjay

An indulgent journey filled with personal growth and vulnerability, Together‘s three tracks pack a considerable punch – from the instrumental “Spectrum,” to the sparkling pride anthem “Together,” and the affecting reworking of Julien Baker’s “Go Home,” Wolfjay delivers a transformative experience in just under ten minutes. Just as we can never know how someone will affect our lives before we let them in, the impact too of this music comes in waves as lush melodies and glowing synths find a home in the mind, and ultimately the heart.

For Wolfjay, Together captures a complex, challenging, and deeply important period of time in their life. “A big part of the process for me of personally validating myself was being comfortable with my identity, primarily what it’s ok for a relationship to look like,” they tell Atwood Magazine. “The EP is mostly about relationships, it was spurred on by an experience with someone that I traditionally wouldn’t have let myself get into, and the ripples of that moment across the rest of my life. I try to look at the whole situation, the context around the experience.”

A lamp in a corner is fine, but seeing how its light hits all the surfaces in a room is absolutely magic.

There is so much to love about Wolfjay’s arresting artistry, and even more to look forward to as they continue to develop and grow their art and artistry. Dive deep into Wolfjay and their exhilarating music in our exclusive interview below, and stream Together EP — out now on Sleep Well Records!

Wolfjay

A CONVERSATION WITH WOLFJAY

Atwood Magazine: How do you describe or define your artistry, if not to yourself than to your older family members?

Wolfjay: On a practical level, I mostly just talk about my work as if it’s a small business I’m slowly building. Each project gets a little bigger, opportunities slowly increase, and income and workloads fluctuate wildly. It’s a pretty easy way to try and quantify the unpredictability of the music industry and creative life to someone who isn’t really familiar with it. On a more personal level, it’s just this overwhelming compulsion. I do it because I have to do it. I’m happiest when working on projects, and when I’m spending time with people that I’ve met through music. Making the plunge into publicly releasing music has just acted as a giant magnet for pulling everything I enjoy more into my life. It’s hard to keep it up sometimes, but I couldn’t picture my life without it.

What was your first foray into music, and what music do you listen to in general?

Wolfjay: I’ve always been really drawn to music, and performing. My favourite toys as a kid where little plastic pianos and mock guitars and headset microphones with pocket amplifiers. I’d listen to tapes on a toy cassette player in my room all day before being able to reach my Dad’s CD collection on the top shelf in his study. My parents listened to a lot of classic pop from the 1960’s to 1990’s, so I grew up listening to a lot of The Beatles, Billy Joel, Tears For Fears, Madonna, that kind of stu!. One of my earliest memories is a child-care worker from my kindergarten teachers telling my Mum about how I wouldn’t stop telling everyone about The Beatles all day.

What is the personal significance of this three-track EP, for you?

Wolfjay: I made the EP over a huge period of uncomfortable growth. I had been incredibly anxious and incredibly unhappy for a really long time, in my jobs, in my relationships, in my intentions, in my motivations — I would constantly tell myself that things I was naturally drawn to were ridiculous and instantly dismiss them because they didn’t fit this image of myself that I’ve been told my whole life I should fit. Then one day a year ago I just realised “I’m having no luck trying to force myself into this role I don’t fit, fuck it, i’m just going to do what I want”. I dated who I wanted to, thought about myself the way I wanted to, wore what I wanted to, and made what I wanted to. Nothing is ridiculous, everything is valid. It’s been so freeing, and I honestly don’t think I could of comfortably released the EP without first validating myself, to myself.

What do you feel like you're saying with this introduction?

Wolfjay: A big part of the process for me of personally validating myself was being comfortable with my identity, primarily what it’s ok for a relationship to look like. The EP is mostly about relationships, it was spurred on by an experience with someone that I traditionally wouldn’t have let myself get into, and the ripples of that moment across the rest of my life. I try to look at the whole situation, the context around the experience. A lamp in a corner is fine, but seeing how its light hits all the surfaces in a room is absolutely magic.

Jack, I'd love for you to share with me a bit of the inspiration/some insight into all three of these songs, just in terms of their meaning for you!

Spectrum: “Spectrum” is a totally instrumental track that we built out of the bones of my last single, “She Calls To Me.” It’s like, “I know this is what you think you know about me, but you’ve been looking at it all wrong.” I’m a full spectrum of experiences, not just this narrow band of colour you’ve been expecting.I feel like so much has changed since I last put music out into the world that I wanted to link the two release to each other. It’s also a bit revisionist, I guess. I’m rewriting my history in 90 seconds.

Together: “Together” is the totally sincere pop-punk song about having a crush on someone that I wished I had on my iPod as a teenager. I wrote it to try and retroactively validate a lot of the things I felt about relationships, and being interested in other people, and falling in love when I was still learning what all of those things were. It’s about being with somebody and feeling warm and loved and special, and wanting that moment to last forever. I hope it makes people feel hopeful.

Go Home: Thematically, “Go Home” is the total opposite of “Together.” I’m not a teenager anymore, and though those moments are amazing, I know that they come to an end. Moments of intimacy are often followed by moments of incredible loneliness, and that’s ok. The high feels high because the low feels low. It can be overwhelming, and you just need to ride it out and wait for the resolve.

I personally love the vocals in “Together,” and the deep level of connection they convey. Can you talk about the significance of human connection in your music?

Wolfjay: I think when I’m physically close to someone I really admire, and really respect, they have my total attention. I end up hypnotised by the tiny details surrounding us. The way the light reflects on their skin. The patterns they draw subconsciously with their fingers. The way their hair sits across their face when they tilt their head. I think because it’s something I really pay attention to, and am very purposeful about, it becomes this really heightened experience. Those moments always find their ways into my music, whether or romantic or not. They’re what personally really pull me into a scene, so I always try to share that.

“Go Home” is incredibly provocative - one big drive that gets more and more tense as the song goes on. How did this track come about, and why is it playing cleanup at the end of this three-track set?

Wolfjay: Instrumentally, the song started by me trying to map out an anxiety attack. The slowly spiraling swell into chaos, realising it’s happening once your past being about to moderate it, and just having to wait it out until the storm stops. The song was practically done before I brought any lyrics to it. I was in a club one night with some friends when I suddenly felt exceptionally uncomfortable and started getting increasingly anxious. I struggled for what felt like weeks to get past all the moving bodies to try and get out, eventually spilling out on to the street to try and catch my breath. Things were still getting away from me, and I could feel it getting quickly unmanageable, so I put my headphones in, and hit shuffle, hoping something calming would come on. ‘Go Home’ by Julien Baker came on, and I left it on repeat for the whole bus ride home. It quickly became my go-to song when I was feeling anxious, and it just fit perfectly over that musical map of anxiety that I’d created. I never meant to “do a cover,” or anything like that, it just happened. Reaching that final calming resolve is making it through the storm, when the anxiety starts to pass and you feel back in control.

What's coming up for you, and what are you most excited about now that this EP is coming out in the world?

Wolfjay: I’m about to head to a big music showcase event in Queensland in a week or so which will be incredible, and then back home to Melbourne to keep working on some new things for the rest of the year and early next year. We’ll see what comes from all of that, but I’d love to get over to the US and the UK sometime next year! As for the EP, I’m really excited to finally have something out that I feel is an accurate representation of who I am as an artist and as a person. I’m excited to see what comes next!

Thank you so much for your time! Lastly, who else should I/we be listening to, music-wise?

Wolfjay: I’m really loving Shahrae’s new EP ‘Awkward’, and have been spending a lot of time on Spotify with this little indie-folk band called Saint Jacques. Oh, and if you haven’t listened to Fritz yet, her new single ‘Jan 1‘ is incredible.

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:: stream/purchase Together here ::

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Together EP - Wolfjay

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📸 © 2019

Together

an EP by Wolfjay


Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com