Words by Freya Langley
Photos by Kieran Hookway
Adelaide's newest electronic producer on the block, Wolfjay (AKA Jack Alexander), has just previewed a collection of new songs off his debut EP Formative Years and announced its joint visual exhibition at Adelaide's The Mill.
Yewth threw a few questions Wolfjay's way to find out more about his music and the project.
Tell us a little bit about the themes and experiences that went into producing your EP, Formative Years.
At its heart, Formative Years project is a story about growing up and the decisions we make. It's about deciding which kind of person you want to be, and the kind of person you don't want to be, the things you want to build, and the things you want to tear down. It's about questioning things that you never even knew you were allowed to question, and favouring experiences over comfortability, even if it is harder.
'Formative Years' was written over a period of a few months where I was trying to find myself in the aftermath of some huge personal changes. I finished my degree, stopped attending the church I'd been a member of since I was a teenager, and realised that a lot of the relationships in my life were very unhealthy. I didn't have much direction, and the things I was spending my time on weren't conducive to me becoming the kind of person I really wanted to be.
The project has grown from the journal I kept and conversations I had during these times. I was lucky enough to stumble my way into friendships that showed me that other people feel the same doubts and struggle to answer the same questions as I was struggling with. As soon as I saw this I knew I had to make something so that I could show people going through the same process that what they're feeling is ok and normal, even if no one talks about it.
While the project is incredibly personal, it's not just about me.
Tell us a little bit about the technical process of combining art and music to compliment each other. Do you make music and then visuals, or vice versa?
If you barged into my room during my teenage years you'd either find me badly playing Chili Pepper bass lines or distorting family photos beyond recognition in Photoshop. Music and visuals have always been my main loves. I've realised now though that just aimlessly making stuff can be dangerous. You need to take responsibility for the things you put out into the world. Everything that I make as Wolfjay starts with an idea, or a feeling, or a moment that I want to share, for a specific point. After that, I just reach for whatever tool will help me get that across.
For Formative Years, I started on the music first because it helped me work out the ideas that I wanted to communicate. The visuals didn't come until much later, though they're definitely an equal part of the project.
Tell us about your collaboration with ChiChi Grasby for the visual side of 'Formative Years'?
I only started work with ChiChi on artwork for 'Formative Years' a few months ago, but I'd been following her work for a long time before that. I initially reached out to her for some help on an illustration based on a photo of my friend Izzy Madsen taken by the amazingly creative director Rory Pippan and styled by Nikita Kimye of Cashmere Studio. At that point I didn't really have an end game in mind, I was just eager to work with ChiChi because I was such a fan of her work. I got a bunch of illustrations back from her and fell in love with them straight away. I started working on concepts using them and, through a lot of back and forth, came to the Instax concept that we ran with for the final products. Each piece is literally a snapshot of the situations described in the songs. Once the concepts were finalised, we repeated the process for each song on the EP.
There's something really special about finding someone who understands your vision, has the technical skill to execute it at a really high level and then has the creativity to take it to places you never imagined. ChiChi has this incredible willingness to constantly push herself forward, never settling for a particular look or aesthetic. Even in the short space of time that I've been working with her, she's pushed and developed her style drastically. I can't wait to see where she takes it next!
Formative Years from Wolfjay kicks off on the 10th of July with the EP releasing on all major music streaming services and stores, and the exhibition opening to the public at The Mill, Adelaide.
Click here for more details.