[April 1, 2016]
by Justin Taing // Photos courtesy of http://daywavemusic.tumblr.com and https://www.facebook.com/pg/daywavemusic/photos/
Indie-rocker Jackson Phillips (otherwise known as the hazy Day Wave) is captivating fans while gaining praise from critics and established rock stars alike. Phillips grew up in Oakland, CA and later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he took a liking to jazz music, further pursuing it with his studies in jazz drumming. Post-Berklee, Phillips completed a 180-degree turn in his music and fronted a successful alt-synth-pop duo, Carousel, in the fall of 2011 with friend Kevin Friedman. Phillips and Friedman released an EP and produced a few songs and remixes under the amusement park moniker, but in 2014, Phillips moved back home from Los Angeles to Oakland and began his career as Day Wave
After getting contracting Cipro Toxicity from taking antibiotics, an extreme case of side effects from his sinus infection antibiotics, Phillips spent a lot of time alone, composing and writing, while staying away from alcohol and sugar due to his illness. During this time, he explored the possibilities of production. Dropping a drum set for a guitar and drum machines, he began recording directly to tape, which became an integral part of his sound. He played every single instrument heard on his tracks and also produced, mixed and mastered on his own. In November of 2014, Day Wave emerged from Carousel’s absence with his first single, “Nothing at All,” the first song he ever wrote under his new name and the first time he “had really written with honest and personal lyrics.” The track resulted in an uncontrollable buzz among the indie world, and the shift in lyricism came to encompass the thematic elements of all future releases.
With a new sound that completely contrasts his work with Carousel, Phillips cites Joy Division, The Beach Boys and New Order as his major influences, and even released a cover of New Order’s “Ceremony” from their 2005 release, Singles. The release of his first EP, Headcase, gained traction with acclaim from Zane Lowe, famed British radio DJ, with track “We Try but We Don’t Fit In” featured on the Lowe’s ‘Beats 1’ mix on its launch day. Phillips also received cosigns from established rock stars Mark Hoppus and Andrew McMahon on Twitter. His sound draws comparisons to DIIV, Wild Nothing, and The Drums, all successful lighthearted indie rock that are currently encapsulating the alternative world.
What’s unique about Day Wave’s current catalogue, though, is the angsty lyricism akin to Youth Lagoon’s Year of Hibernation. Headcase explored themes of the troubles of love, growing up and dealing with the repercussions. Songs like “Drag” highlight the troubles of being a busy 20-something and the effects that has on relationships, with lyrics like “I’m always such a drag / But I’m not like that / And I know that I’m too hard to find / That I don’t make time.” The title track is an ode to the profound difficulties of love offset by the dreamy guitar riffs and lo-fi vocals from Phillips.
Following the release of Headcase, he signed to the indie label Fat Possum, very fitting considering one of his label mates is Youth Lagoon. He then toured with Albert Hammond Jr. and, Blonde Redhead, while more and more blogs began picking up on his music at a rapid pace. From there came his most recent release, Hard to Read, which delves further into the existential world that Headcase conceived, while getting increasingly more personal, which doing it all on his own allows him to do. Standout tracks like “Deadbeat Girl” and the lead single, “Gone,” exemplify not only his expertise with instrumentation and production, with spacey and enticing hooks and guitar melodies, but his journey of self-reflection as well. “Deadbeat Girl” brings forth an entrancing introduction that spirals around the troubled lyrics about a scorned lover, singing, “I know what you’re doing / you’re running away again…cause you’re a deadbeat girl, a deadbeat girl at heart.”,” reminiscent of “Just To Put Me Down” from Mac Demarco’s last mini-album Another One. “Gone” combines a mesmerizing hook and tune with defiant lyrics about “being deprived of whatever it is that keeps you grounded.”
Read was prefaced by immense anticipation from fans and critics alike, and did not disappoint. Day Wave thrives off of Phillips’ honesty and personality, rightfully resonating across multiple generations and demographics. , and Wwith two EP’s out now, Phillips has his first headlining tour across Europe and North America to look forward to, including stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in addition to festivals across the world. A promising year ahead is in store for one of rock’s brightest new-comer.