Pop It Off
The place for all things pop
by Mark Janz
For fans of: Lana Del Ray, Frank Ocean, Cigarettes After Sex
We’ve all been in this movie before: out past midnight driving down the darkened highway, the warm summer air still wrapping its arms around you. Your windows are down, and you’re looking for a place to park and let the night wind down. Perhaps you’ve got a joint in your left hand; perhaps you’ve got a lover in your right; maybe you’re lucky enough to have both. All these memories come breezing in at the first notes of brand new Calgary artist Boy Jade’s debut single “Like A Video.” Boy Jade blesses your feed with not only a gallery of auteur visuals, but with a scintillating pop confection of the nights that made us want to live forever.
The carefree 6-year-old Boy Jade had starry eyes and a lively mind, which were both drawn to music due to his days of being in eyeshot and earshot of TRL or MTV. Boy Jade’s sister’s daily television habits showed him that music was a bonding force that brought people together, and gave him a whole lineup of new childhood superheroes that did not wear capes: “If we’re talking the ultimate full-package it’s gotta be Rihanna, she’s untouchable. I admire that she's ventured into so much outside of just music. But I also love Lana Del Rey, The Neighbourhood, Frank Ocean, Cigarettes After Sex, Kanye—artists that have their own visual, sonic and lyrical aesthetic, and really create a world around their music and what they stand for” Boy Jade discusses. “When I’ve been put onto their music, it changes the way I hear the voice in my head, in terms of the kind of art I want to make.” Boy Jade also eloquently adds: “Fuck it, I'll also always love Britney Spears.”
Listen to "Like A Video" on our June 2020 Spotify playlist
I remember my first time hearing Boy Jade sing; our mutual friend had worked on a song with Boy Jade, and wanted to lay down a demo of it in my basement. The song was sonically a far cry from Boy Jade’s debut single “Like A Video,” as it traded in Boy Jade’s chill beats and pads for more electric guitars and ‘80s rock sensibilities; but the signature was added through Boy Jade's unmistakable voice, shimmering down to my ears from 37,000 feet in the air and cushioning the ground beneath me like a cloud. “If I'm being honest, I don’t really view myself as a singer” Boy Jade tells me to my surprise. “I'm not trained, and I don't have this massive voice, but I use it almost like an instrument to bring my lyrics and melodies to life. I definitely see myself as a songwriter first.” Boy Jade’s thinking is easy to observe, as from the song we worked on that day all the way to “Like A Video,” you can hear how his voice intertwines with the words in a way that communicates a piece of our worlds that you knew existed, but never knew you thought of so much. Could I be so bold to say that Boy Jade could be pop music’s Morgan Freeman? I know I might opt for Boy Jade to sing my life’s narration as opposed to Freeman’s signature speaking voice, as it would make my daily trips to KFC sound much more profound.
Upon speaking of Boy Jade’s debut single “Like A Video,” which has a gentle touch but leaves a fluttering rush, I had to know what was behind the sensation. “I think any young adult can relate to this, but just those nights when you’re so fucked up on something, whether it be drugs or alcohol, that it’s almost like you’re in some retro video-game-simulation-type shit” he illustrates. “You look around and you’re surrounded by your favourite people, and you’re just fucking happy. The song’s like an ode to nostalgia.” Nostalgia plays into so much of Boy Jade’s aesthetic, which can be absorbed from more than just the music. “I think we all have these romantic views of the past, and the nostalgia has been tenfold now that the whole world’s been on lockdown” he explains. “We look back on a different time and we're like, ‘damn, that shit was fire or that was iconic as fuck.’ It’s like how the Microsoft aesthetic is always gonna be impactful no matter how outdated it looks. Me and my friends all grew up playing Nintendo; my favourite thing to rock is 80s-esque short shorts; the 90s are untouchable; As ironically awful as the early 2000s were, it's still badass.” The nostalgia is painted all over Boy Jade’s Instagram (@itsboyjade) with his iPhone photos situated on a Game Boy screen, the Microsoft Office Paint program, Grand Theft Auto, and more.
“Apart from self-expression, I guess I'm not necessarily trying to accomplish anything going in,” Boy Jade tells me about his lyrics. “I write when I feel that I need to write, and I'll keep the edits going until I think the words match the sentiment in my head, until I've painted a picture and told a story.” Boy Jade has only just released his first single, which leaves so much story to still be written. The first question that came to my mind was one that satiated my curiosity on what Boy Jade’s overall objective was with his art; “connect with people” he promptly replied. “Whether it's people that want to listen, or other artists that I can collaborate with. I make music for me, but I've always thought that the loneliest part of existing is not having a network of like-minded artists around me” he discusses. “It didn't help that I recorded so much stuff I never put out. Music’s such an outlet to express my emotions and realities, I think scrapping all my work was equivalent to like bottling up emotions to an unhealthy extent. I just want to be understood. Hopefully a sense of community comes out of this.” Fortunately for Boy Jade, Calgary is overflowing with talented artists and millions of people in general that can bond with his work. And I can assure you Boy Jade, what you expressed does not “sound so depressing!”
The prospect of collaboration is something that gets Boy Jade noticeably enthused; “I would love to work with other artists, especially birthing stuff together. Honestly, the main reason I’m doing everything on my own (minus leasing beats) is that I’ve never had a community of artists around me that I felt got me and trusted my vision. But I’d love that.” Boy Jade has thus far mostly worked solo, with everything from the writing to performing the instruments on recordings, much like a modern day Prince. I think the comparison is far to make too, albeit not quite sonically, but more geared towards the two artists sharing the same ideas of vision, aesthetic, community, and connection to the self and to others. As for future plans, Boy Jade’s agenda is simple: “Just to continue doing it.” He elaborates, “I’m at that weird stage where I’ve graduated university, but there are still so many creative avenues I want to delve into. I’m still discovering myself and figuring it all out. But I’m absolutely going to release some more music this year and shoot some visual content once quarantine is over!” he exclaims. Looking beyond the Video, I think YYC is in for something truly dazzling from Boy Jade.