“I wanted to leave the option open for the project to potentially grow beyond just me.”
Jackson Phillips, aka Day Wave, is an Oakland, Calif.-based singer-songwriter-performer-producer—in other words, a musical mastermind. Having just released Hard to Read, his sophomore EP, the young artist is embarking on his first-ever U.S. headlining tour. I caught up with him between the start of the tour and his March performance at South by Southwest.
I love reading press releases, and their attempts at capturing a sound through words. (I am not knocking them in the least; I used to be a publicist myself.) In this case, your music has been called “dreamy and hypnotic.” Let’s break it down. When you hear the word “dreamy,” what comes to mind? What about “hypnotic”?
When I think “dreamy” or “hypnotic” in terms of music, I actually imagine a more ambient style, but I like to think I can add those elements to a more pop-structured song.
Do you feel that description accurately and adequately captures your sound?
It’s hard for me to say. I don’t really think about genre when I’m recording, but I definitely try to create a sound that is smooth and lush.
Why can “only the West Coast…provide” the “dreamy pop aesthetic” of your sound? (Another nod to the press release.) I can think of bands across the country—and the Big Pond—who capture that sound in that music.
I don’t think it really matters where you live; you can make any kind of music in any place.
What makes an artist—say, someone like yourself—opt to use a band moniker over your own name?
I think I liked the idea of people perceiving Day Wave as a band. And I wanted to leave the option open for the project to potentially grow beyond just me.
Playing SXSW this year had to be a momentous occasion. Aside from the adoring press you received, what was the most exciting thing about it?
It was super cool to see some of my favorite up-and-coming bands perform. I got to see Alex G, Car Seat Headrest, Anderson Paak, and Whitney.
As a solo artist, how much of the instrumentation on the record is yours? How do you translate these compositions to the stage?
I played everything on the recordings. I even mixed and mastered everything. For the live show, I have a few friends help me recreate the recordings.
You’ve now released two EPs. What is it about the shorter form that makes you release EPs rather than LPs?
I just wanted to build into an LP, rather than jump into one too quickly.
How do you think Hard to Read differs from your first EP, Head Case?
I think Hard to Read solidifies the sound that I was going for on Headcase. I think of them as one body of work, put out over a long period of time. | Laura Hamlett
Day Wave U.S. tour dates
04.28 | Barboza, Seattle
04.29 | Mississippi Studios, Portland
04.30 | The Cobalt, Vancouver BC
05.02 | Kilby Court, Salt Lake City
05.03 | Lost Lake Lounge, Denver
05.04 | Slowdown, Omaha
05.06 | 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
05.07 | Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines
05.10 | Club Café, Pittsburgh
05.11 | Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia
05.12 | DC9 Nightclub, Washington DC
05.14 | Shaky Knees Festival, Atlanta
06.05 | The Governors Ball Music Festival, New York
06.07 | Great Scott, Allston MA
06.09 | Drake Hotel Underground, Toronto ON
06.10 | Pike Room at the Crofoot, Pontiac MI
06.13 | House of Blues Cambridge Room, Dallas
06.14 | Sidewinder, Austin
06.17 | The Echo, Los Angeles
06.18 | The Casbah, San Diego
Day Wave takes a 14-date European jaunt 05.16–06.03, in the midst of the U.S. dates.