INTERVIEW: Day Wave's Jackson Phillips Was Made For Music
  • WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2017

  • Posted by: Mandi Dudek

Jackson Phillips - better known as being the brains behind the project, Day Wave, is one of those artists that was pretty much born to make music. Phillips was raised in a house with parents and a sister who all really loved music and encouraged him to pick up an instrument before the age of 10. So, Phillips chose the drums.

And every chapter of Phillips life was just another piece of the puzzle leading up to the birth of Day Wave. He attended Berklee College of Music - studying to be a jazz drummer before switching to production - and he previously made up half of the San Francisco-based electro-pop duo, Carousel. He grew up in the Bay Area and has lived on both coasts - from Boston to New York to Los Angeles to Oakland - and has experienced many different music scenes. Phillips taught himself how to play the guitar and piano, as well as how to produce and mix his own music.

All of the knowledge Jackson Phillips has picked up along the way has gone into carefully crafting Day Wave's dreamy, sun-drenched, ethereal sound. Last Friday, Day Wave's debut album, The Days We Had was released into the world and it's a hazy, guitar-driven dream-pop record that'll make you want relax on a beach somewhere. We caught up with Jackson Phillips to talk about instruments, the fine-tuning process of Day Waves and the debut album, The Days We Had.



MANDI DUDEK: So your album is out - that's exciting! How does it feel?

JACKSON PHILLIPS: It feels good! It's definitely a big stepping stone to actually feeling like my band is a real band, you know?

MD: How long did the album take to finish?

JP: I recorded it in about two and a half weeks and I spent another three weeks mixing it and switching it a little so the whole thing took about a month or two.

MD: And I read that you played all the instruments on the album yourself, but did you have any other help on the album?

JP: No, actually, somebody else mixed it. This guy Mark Ranken (Adele, Bloc Party, Queens of The Stone Age) and that was the last three weeks was I went to his house and mixed it with him.

MD: And where was the album recorded?

JP: It was in Long Beach, actually, about a year ago. It wasn't until September that I went and finished it. There was a good few months in between because I recorded it then I went on tour. And I came back from tour and finished it, pretty much.

MD: Where did you come up with the name for the album The Days We Had?

JP: It comes from a lyric in the Brings You Down.

MD: It's a really guitar-driven album but I understand you haven't always played guitar, right? When did you learn to play the guitar?

JP: I learned how to play the guitar right when I started Day Wave so that was about 2 and a half years ago. I knew I wanted this to be a guitar band so I just bought a guitar and started recording. So, I'm still pretty new to it.

MD: Where did the moniker Day Wave come from?

JP: A friend of mine actually came up with it for me. I showed him some of the songs I had written and I said "Can you come up with something based on what the music sounds like?" and then he came up with a bunch of things and Day Wave was just one of them. And he wrote it all down for me and I saw Day Wave so I looked it up to make sure no one else had taken it or anything. It was kind of a logistical thing at that point because I wanted to make sure it wasn't taken by anyone else. And it also sounded like the music.

MD: Day Wave totally goes with the vibe of your music. It has such a beachy, dreamy sound. And you lived in Los Angeles before right? And then you went back to the Bay Area?

JP: I lived in LA about 4 years ago now. And I moved to the Bay Area but I just moved back to LA a few months ago.

MD: What made you want to move back to LA?

JP: I just felt like I needed a change of pace. I feel like I get a little antsy and I love the Bay Area and being back in Oakland but I think kind of what happened was - I moved to back to Oakland and I was able to start this project and get it all figured out. And I starting it from scratch - just as an idea - and I was able to bring it to life. I was able to do that there because theres such little distraction but I think because I grew up in the Bay Area, it was starting to give me anxiety being there. I felt like the world was passing by me and I was just missing it. So, I decided to try moving back to LA with a normal perspective on it this time around. And just keep doing my own thing.

MD: How do you think the music scene differs from the Bay Area versus LA?

JP: Well, LA has a lot more young people making art, you know? And the Bay Area isn't really affordable to do that right now. So there's just a lot more of that in LA.



MD: Who did you grow up listening to?

JP: I grew up on a lot listening to my sister's music. It was a lot of what was happening around the time that you were young. Bands like Sublime - anything that was popular at the time. So when I was young, that's what I was listening to and when I got a little older, I was able to discover on my own and through my parents showing me stuff. Like a lot of classic rock, Pink Floyd, stuff like that. I got into more progressive rock like Brian Eno and then I went and explored different types of music. I was really into acoustic music for a while and jazz and classical music. I'm a pretty big music nerd.

MD: You went to Berklee School Of Music and actually studied to be a jazz drummer. What made you steer away from jazz and change to this project?

JP: The drums - that was the instrument that I started playing when I was like 9 and I never had the idea that I could play a bunch of instruments. I just thought like, "Ok, this is the instrument that I'm playing and this is what I'm going to do." I just continued to try to get really good at that one instrument and in the process, sometime around high school, I just forgot about what I loved about music. I kind of got in this black hole of trying to get really good at the drums and when I got to college, I realized that playing the drums is great but what I love is the whole thing. I like all the instruments coming together and just tried to get my perspective back by not getting caught up with just one instrument.

At Berklee, there are so many people competing at who's the best at whatever instrument and I just wanted to get away from that. In the process, I rediscovered what I love about songs and I was learning music theory there so I thought, "well, I can probably figure out piano" then one thing led to another and I started producing.

MD: What instrument would you say was the hardest to learn for you?

JP: I'd say guitar, maybe? It definitely didn't come as easy to me as piano.

MD: And you picked up songwriting during this process as well?

JP: I've been writing songs for five or six years now. When I first started doing it in 2011, I was doing it with a couple of friends. But it wasn't until 3 years ago or so that I started doing it by myself.

MD: So after the tour this summer - what's next for you?

JP: Probably more touring! [laughs] After the June tour, there might be a little time then some more touring in the fall. And in between, I'm always writing songs for whatever comes next.
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