Contrary to what his album title implies, 27-year-old producer Jai Wolf does not know how to cure loneliness.
"I'd say it's more of a state of mind," he said. "Yes, the album is about relationships. Yes, it's about being in a foreign country in a hotel room by yourself. But I'd love if this album also helps a 17-year-old that's going through something." Born in Bangladesh, but raised in Long Island, Sajeeb Saha's unique discography during his formative years – from the punk music of Blink-182 to orchestral symphonies, from hip-hop to Bollywood classics – has been a driving force in his ever-changing sound. The DJ's 2015 breakout hit "Indian Summer" is an uplifting and vibrant house track, while his remix of Skrillex's "Ease My Mind," which caught the attention of the dubstep guru himself, is a bombastic drum&bass remix, with trap drums and chopped vocals, aggressively propelling it forward.
Yet when deciding which single would encompass his official debut project The Cure To Loneliness, Jai Wolf recorded an indie-rock track with Mr. Gabriel. "We were sitting on it for two years cause we knew we had to roll it out the right way," Wolf said, admitting that he was cautious about how fans would receive the song. "You can't DJ that song, and I wasn't sure what people would think cause [that sound] has an audience, but it's not necessarily my audience." Popdust talked with Jai Wolf more about his continued growth as an artist, his show at Terminal 5 in New York, and how he kept from losing his mind on the road.
How did The Cure For Loneliness come about?
It's definitely a reflection of my personal life over the past few years. It's a bit cliche to have music about romantic ideas, but being on the road and touring was clashing with my personal life. That led to the realization about what I wanted to write about. I just think it's important for artists to write truthfully, and this album is my truth.
How did touring clash with your personal life?
It was a bunch of things, the failure of several romantic relationships, and then also just being isolated on the road even when your crew surrounds you. We were touring my last EP pretty extensively, and in 2017 we were in Asia, Australia, North America and it was all just very grueling, not to mention it was the first time I got thrown into that world. I think the album is about picking apart what was happening through different lenses. It's self-reflection, and how I'm feeling personally that extends beyond my romantic relationships.
By being "thrown into it" so suddenly how did you adjust yourself to this crazy new schedule?
It was more getting into a consistent flow. Wake up, get on the plane, do the show, sleep, repeat. When you do that 100 times it gets a little – I don't wanna say stale cause obviously I love what I do – but it becomes such a routine that I found I had to focus on keeping my head straight, especially during those few months [in 2017]. I'm also not big on writing on the road, so for me when the tour was over it was like: ok let's finally process what happened, and I think that's when the album truly started to come together.
And you're back on tour now? How do you feel this time around?
More confident. We haven't done a headline run in two or three years, so it's exciting, and we had more time to help my vision come to life and build the world for the audience. Two years ago I felt locked in, like "ok my EP is out. Now time for the tour." It takes time, money, and resources to really build a fleshed out show, and that's something that I felt was limited two years ago. Not to toot my horn, but I oversaw every single part of the show this time around. From the graphics to the editing, to the lights, to the colors, right down to the millisecond I oversaw everything. I wanted this show to be a thing that transcends music, and I wanted it to be very detailed, and that's something I didn't feel I could do before.
Tell me more about "Lose My Mind."
The song was just me wanting to try things that aren't common in the electronic world, and kinda pay homage to my favorite bands [groups] like The Strokes, Phoenix, Foster The People, so I went to [Mr. Gabriel's] home in Nashville and kinda sketched out the base idea maybe two years ago. We sat on it for a while 'cause we wanted to make sure we rolled it out the right way.
Was the track based on that 2017 period you just mentioned?
Definitely, I mean I was literally losing my mind during those few months.
It's interesting because a lot of EDM artists when wanting to get introspective and emotional, would record something like a Trance track. Why did you think an indie-rock song would better convey what you were feeling?
I've definitely had people compare my music to Trance and I think a lot of that comes down to the melodies. For me growing up it was all about Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, etc. and what I loved was that they would use simple musical cadences but would hit your heart in such a specific way. I think just having that ingrained in me from my teenage years is why it just came out when I was writing.
And I feel that Trance music is so literal and palpable, and "Lose My Mind" seems to have a lot more layers to it.
Exactly. With this album, I tried to avoid super obvious EDM elements, and I decided not to use specific tropes from the EDM world. I wouldn't even call this an EDM album. There is this type of EDM where there is just this massive drop, and I didn't wanna overstate that. I was very careful with drum samples, and I tried to make sure that I was using more timeless sounds without using compressed hard-hitting drums or trendy synths. I didn't want to make something that would be outdated five years from now.
So if I put out an album called The Cure For Loneliness I would have immediately gotten a distressed phone call from my mother. How did your parents react to the project and to "Lose My Mind?" Did they worry about you?
I have a good relationship with my parents, but I don't talk too much about my feelings with them. They're very proud of what I do, and they're very happy for me. They were at my show [at Terminal 5 on Saturday]. I sadly haven't been home for most of the year, but anytime I come home they can see that I've been working hard and going through things. But they're very happy that the album is done. It's been a long journey, but it's all very exciting. I felt with this album it was a chance to really plant the flag and say "this is Jai Wolf."
Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.