The opening melody of She Calls to Me pours from my speakers, a poppy beat that sounds like it belongs on Netflix’s Stranger Things. Only it isn’t it’s a single from talented Melbourne-based WOLFJAY, the project of non-binary artist Jack Alexander. Their talents range from singer to songwriter to producer to designer, and their passion for each is evident in their work. A mix of alt-pop, indie-rock, and dreamy electronics bring together coming-of-age anthems about the lives we once had and the lives we were meant to have.
Today, WOLFJAY is here with their new single In Memory Of a song about removing yourself from a toxic environment, changing lanes before the warning signs derail you, and about knowing what you need to do to get to the place you really want to call home. Imaginative synth and passionate vocals illustrate the pursuit for personal freedom driven by emotional mayhem in such a dreamy way. They sing of finding self-acceptance in a way we can all relate to.
Give In Memory Of a listen and find out more about WOLFJAY in this exclusive interview. Photographs shot on a Minolta 700 with 50mm lens using 35mm film (Fuji 400 ISO). Fans will have a chance to see WOLFJAY live at New Colossus Fest in NYC from March 1115.
You’ve been introduced to me as a non-binary singer/songwriter/producer/designer. What does being non-binary mean to you, and what are your preferred pronouns?
Hey! I use they/them pronouns. To me, being non-binary means embracing the fact that gender doesn’t define or inform my decisions or my life. I’m who I am, I do what I do, I date who I date. That’s that.
Breaking the gender binary in the public eye can be complicated. What have things been like for you in that regard?
For the most part it hasn’t changed anything. I don’t think I was ever incredibly masculine, I didn’t ever play “the man” role in relationships, I was just myself. That hasn’t changed. Most of the people I spend time with just treat me as me. I’d love to explore how I express myself through clothing and aesthetics more in the future, but that’s expensive. For the most part, I just feel like me, rather than feeling like any particular gender. It’s just a blank canvas.
Since not everyone uses they/them as a default when meeting someone new, misgendering can be inevitable. How do you deal with these situations?
At that stage it’s not a big deal at all, it just feels like someone getting my name wrong. I just gently share with them what I prefer if I’m going to be seeing them a lot. Normally people are considerate and just pick up after they’ve seen my socials and see how I refer to myself there.
Do you see differences in your music before and after coming out?
No. I only shared about my experiences and identity because I believed it would add a bit more context to the stories I was sharing in my music, it doesn’t change the stories.
You’ve said that In Memory Of was written before you came out. What did it mean to you when you wrote it, and what does it mean to you now?
It’s about leaving things behind and moving forward towards where you feel like you should be. I think it relates to something everyone feels, regardless of the season of life they’re in. The song means the same thing now as the day I wrote it, I just feel the moments in it deeper now that time has passed and I’ve gotten more familiar with the emotions I talk about in the song.
I really like that. Who or what are some of your inspirations when it comes to your music?
The inspiration behind what my songs sound like is purely based on what I’m listening to at the time. I go through phases where I just obsessively listen to a particular artist or release from them. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Cocteua Twins again, so a lot of my guitar parts now are very chorused out and dripping with reverb, but that could change tomorrow, or next week, or next month. When I was working on In Memory Of I was listening to a lot of Mike Dean’s guitar work for Kanye West, in particular the guitar on Devil In A New Dress off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and spent ages trying to copy it.
I think the bigger thing for me is who inspires me to continue making music. I’m super lucky to have people around me who just show up every day and put the time in to making something they’re proud to stand behind. People who tirelessly work at improving themselves and their craft, and who are more than happy to share their experiences with less seasoned artists. Almost all of those people for me are in the queer community, and I love them with all my heart.
Some artists have a special space where they create. Can you tell me about your process and what your space is like, if you have one?
I worked for a long time to have the space I have now. I have a small study in my house that faces south-west and gets a lot of sun in the afternoon. My street is quiet, but in a busy part of Melbourne, and I can often hear the clubs and nightlife from my window on the weekend. I don’t have much stuff, just a few guitars and pedals and microphones, but this is where I’ve been working on music for the last six months.
Apart from that a lot of my ideas come from rehearsals with the percussionists I perform live with, I’ll reach for a particular groove or chord shape that I wouldn’t when I’m sitting down in my studio, and that’ll inform a new idea.
That sounds really lovely! If you could change one thing about the music industry or entertainment industry in general, what would it be?
I’m not sure I understand it or have had enough experience with it to say, but it’d really make my day if support for artists and creators was more evenly distributed between smaller local acts and larger international pop stars. But that’s just a fantasy.
An understandable one, though. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a child, and did you see yourself being where you are today?
I think the earliest memory I have of being aspirational about anything was watching The Beatles’ Help!film and seeing them perform in front of a crowd and wanting to do that. I’ve always been drawn to music, I’m just slowly working out over the years which parts I enjoy and want to pursue further.
Do you have any goals to meet with your music this year?
My biggest goal for 2020 is to get a song of mine into a film, so music supervisors get at me. I love going to the movies, and just hearing one of my songs in a cinema would be incredible. I’d also love to put out a longer release, like an EP or something, but we’ll see!
March is when you’ll be making your first trip to America, for Colossus Fest in New York, I hear. What are you most excited for?
I’ve never been to New York before so I’m really excited to just be in the city for the first time! Specifically, I really just want to go for a meal at Veselka on Second Avenue. My family on my Dad’s side are Ukraninan and I’ve never been to a Ukranian diner before! Also, performing live in NYC will be wild. It’s every artist’s dream, right?
That’s definitely right! To close this interview, can you offer a few words of encouragement or a quote to inspire the audience?
I love this pulpy sci-fi movie from the 80’s with Peter Weller and John Lithgow called The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and in it he says “no matter where you go, there you are”. I don’t know what the fuck it means but it always feels really comforting! Hopefully it comforts you, wherever you are.
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photos / Sabrina Gallagher
story / Bridgette Hoshont’omba