Jackson Phillips reenters the world of Day Wave with ‘Crush’, a fuzzy, dreamlike EP that seems to float amid honest truths.
Stream: “Crush” – Day Wave
In 2015, Jackson Phillips released his first EP under the moniker Day Wave, and the years began to fly by. He released another EP, and then a full-length album, and toured all over, landing big festival slots and opening for bands like The Shins and Spoon. Phillips was running hard and fast in an exciting direction, which is ultimately what led him to new territory: taking a break.
“It takes all of your time and energy, and then you take a moment and realize four years went by!,” says Los Angeles-based Phillips of his Day Wave project. After his LP, The Days We Had, Phillips started to spend his time a bit differently: working with Pete Yorn on his latest record, Caretakers, producing for up-and-coming artists, buying a house; but touring with Yorn along with some of Phillips band mates ended up beckoning him back into the world of Day Wave.
So Phillips started again, signified by his new EP, Crush, out April 24 on [PIAS] Recordings. As with much of his previous work, Phillips wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered these four songs himself, keeping them 100% true to his original feeling and vision. This EP is also true to the Day Wave sound: fuzzy, dreamlike, and a sense of floating amid honest truths. In addition, there is an understated growth about it, a maturity, and an evolution in songwriting, especially denoted by an unexpected piano ballad, the title track, “Crush.”
Jackson Phillips spoke with Atwood Magazine about his return to Day Wave, the creation of Crush, and what he’s been listening to in quarantine. Read about all of it and more in our interview below!
You’re bad news
But I don’t care
I’m thinking I wanna be into it
I’ve seen you here before
And now you’re knocking at my door
And I don’t think I’ll hold myself back anymore
Your potion has got me in over my head
I’m not gonna go with anyone else
If I can’t resist you I’ll end up dead
I’m not gonna go with anyone else
– “Potions,” Day Wave
Stream: ‘Crush EP’ – Day Wave
A CONVERSATION WITH DAY WAVE
Atwood Magazine: You took a break from the world of Day Wave after 2017’s “The Days We Had”-- what have the past few years looked like for you?
Day Wave: I’ve mostly been producing for other people. I started working with Pete Yorn, and before that I hadn’t done too much producing for others. I’d done some stuff with Hazel English, but that was almost an extension of Day Wave. So I met Pete and produced a bunch of stuff for him, and met some other artists who are just starting out and did some producing for them. I bought a house, and did other stuff rather than touring. I just broke away from [Day Wave] a little bit. It’s kind of a cycle, you know, where you’re like “I need to be really into this and write,” and then “ok I put this out, now I need to go on tour.” It takes all of your time and energy, and then you take a moment and realize four years went by! So, I kind of just wanted to slow it down and do something else, which re-inspired me to get back into it.
Yeah, I feel like sometimes the best thing you can do for your art is to take a break from it after awhile and come back with a fresh perspective.
Day Wave: Yeah, exactly.
That's cool you had the time to do that! My next question actually was about working with Pete Yorn. Did that influence or shake up the way you make music?
Day Wave: Working with him is definitely different from what I’ve experienced because he’s a songwriter who would come over with a song written on acoustic guitar and we would work from that. Whereas when I make my own songs, I’m usually writing as I’m coming up with little ideas and recording. Essentially, I’m writing and producing at the same time. So that was a little different, but what really got me back into Day Wave was when I went on tour with Pete and played guitar for him. It just made me miss Day Wave a little bit.
Was wanting to get back into Day Wave on tour like a spark moment, or did it happen over time?
Day Wave: It just happened over time. I think it was being with the band, because a couple other guys from my band were playing with Pete too. You know, when you’re with your friends it feels like a road trip or something. I kind of missed it.
Yeah. I really have enjoyed listening to Crush lately. In particular, the title track, “Crush,” really struck me. The piano ballad felt like a new element for a Day Wave song. How did that song come together?
Day Wave: Yeah, definitely. So I moved to a new house and was setting up my studio, and one of the first things I wanted was a piano. I’d never had a piano in my studio before when I was doing Day Wave stuff, so I got a piano and the first thing I wrote when I sat down was “Crush.” I wrote and recorded it very quickly, and thought it was really cool. Part of me was like, “I don’t even know if that’s a Day Wave song or not!” But I really loved it. It’s kind of a tipping point of how my songwriting can change, I think. I actually didn’t realize it was going to be released, but the label really liked it!
It caught me off guard at first, but on second listen I felt like it fit really perfectly with the other songs. I'm glad “Crush” made it on the EP!
Day Wave: Yeah, me too. You know, you make a lot of songs and wait for the label to say which ones they want to release. I was glad they picked that one.
The EP really does feel like you’re formally “starting again.” In the past, I know you’ve usually had new songs on deck after a release. Do you have other projects planned for 2020?
Day Wave: Yeah, I think there’ll be another EP. I don’t think I’ll go right into an album, but I’m kind of back in the whirlwind of it. It’s a little weird now with what’s happening, because there’s no touring or anything. So the only option is to release more music.
Right. Do you prefer putting together EPs over albums?
Day Wave: I like that an EP is a little more low key and less pressure, whereas albums feel too formal sometimes. They’re both cool, but nowadays it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a full album or not.
Right. In a streaming world! I still like to listen to albums in full, but I totally get that putting out less is more sometimes.
Day Wave: Yeah, sometimes. Definitely.
Here I go looking ahead
I’m starting again
I won’t be caught in the moment
I’m starting again
An I will take care of myself
I’m not done yet
And I’ll let you know when I’m ready
To put it to rest
But I can go on alone
I can do it alone now
I hate it when you push me out
I hate the way you make it sound
Like I feel alone
Like I feel alone now
I’m not gonna give in again
I told you the way I am
I don’t feel alone
I don’t feel alone now
From your first EP, Headcase, to now, you’ve been doing most of the recording, mixing, and mastering yourself. What steers you toward working solo rather than working with others? (I ask as someone who also prefers working by myself too!)
Day Wave: I prefer doing everything myself. My experience I had with my album, where I let some other people in on the process, was a good experience but I didn’t want to do it again. I would rather something sound like I made it, than for it to sound like someone else put their touch on it.
I would rather something sound like I made it, than for it to sound like someone else put their touch on it.
I get that for sure. It's really cool that you do the whole process yourself. That's impressive!
Day Wave: Yeah, I guess I just like having the control. I don’t care if it’s perfect sounding at the end of the day.
That's a great mindset to have! Last question: During this time where we’ve had to stay at home, what have you been listening to or making to stay inspired and sane?
Day Wave: I’ve been listening to music that takes me out of the current situation, that makes me feel like I’m in a different time. So, a lot of Big Star, and The Replacements, and a little bit of Teenage Fan Club. Just different rock bands *laughs.*
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? © Daniel Topete
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