Cards on the table…We’ve been following and loving the music of Wotts for quite some time now. Based in Ottawa, Canada, the indie-pop duo is made up of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jayem and bassist/guitarist Ricky 100. Known for their ethereal, dreamy, and hypnotising sound, we’ve been eager to get to know some more about the talented twosome.
Honoured that they agreed to an interview, Jayem and Ricky chatted with us about their brand new single ‘be kind’. We also delve into the challenges of being independent musicians, and what the pair have in store next. Please give a big welcome to our friends Jayem and Ricky 100 from Wotts!
Hey Jayem and Ricky 100, it’s amazing to finally have you guys here! We’ve been proud fans of your work for quite some time now but, for those who have yet to discover your musical prowess, how would you describe your overall sound?
We’re so stoked to be talking to you guys! When it comes to our sound we’re a bit hard to pin down because we’re influenced by all sorts of music, but we tend to lean into indie pop the most. To get a bit more specific, we’re suckers for 80s and 90s pop, so if people like a hint of nostalgia in their music, we might be a good fit for them.
I fell incredibly hard for your last single ‘garden‘ and still listen to the tune on a near daily basis! I know that the track is a metaphor for escaping into your own world, and I’m wondering if you remember the song’s “birth” so to speak? How did it come about?
That’s so cool to hear! I remember we had the theme in mind before we had any musical ideas, which was a first for us. I (Jay) was going through some tough times then and I just remember burying myself in music and finding happiness in that escape. Probably not healthy in the grand scheme of things. On the production side, it was also the first time that guitar spurred on the rest of the track. I remember the riff coming about and thinking “This is it!”, and after that, the chords, the lyrics, everything just poured out. Wish they all came out that naturally!
Now, I’ve been given a sneak peek at your brand new single ‘be kind’ and honestly guys, you’ve done it again! I really think you’re on to something quite sonically special! What can you tell our readers about your latest tune?
That means a lot, thanks for saying that! “be kind” was so much fun to make because we basically threw out everything we learned and just went into full experimental mode. We knew we wanted to make a shoegazey dream pop kind of track, but had no idea how to go about it. I remember reading a Washed Out interview and he basically talked about how he just did stuff spontaneously and trusted his gut. We embraced that approach and it was super liberating.
I know that you found inspiration in acts like Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, and George Clanton for ‘be kind’ but, in a broader sense, who else would you credit, or give a shout-out to, for helping shape your overall musical soundscape?
When it comes to our production style we love the idea of world building. Brothertiger and M83 are two artists that do that – but at a genius level! They create these cinematic soundscapes that you can just disappear into, while also maintaining a pop sound. I’d probably come off cocky if I said that’s what we’ve been doing, but they’re definitely a big reason why our sound is what it is.
What do you love most about being musicians? And, on the flip side, what are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced so far?
The best feeling is that moment in the creative process when something clicks and the idea just keeps gaining momentum. Almost like the universe is feeding you and you’re going a mile a minute to capture everything while it’s happening. In moments like that, all the bad stuff that comes with this life just disappears. As far as challenges go, I’d say the biggest has been coming to terms with the fact that indie artists have to wear 50 different hats nowadays. Unless you’re lucky to have a big budget or you have a team behind you, there’s so much more beyond music that you have to become a pro at. I dream of a world where small artists can just make music and still get discovered, but that’s just not how it is, there’s a game to be played.
If you could each have a conversation with a legendary musician and ask them one question, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
That’s a great question! We’re firm believers in “never meet your heroes” so we’d probably make it fun and chat with hologram AI Elvis and ask him if President Nixon ever made him a secret federal agent. Probably a much better option than us annoying Paul McCartney or Kevin Parker about mic technique and drum compression settings.
I’m a sucker for having to know the origins of a band’s name. I just can’t help myself! How exactly did Wotts come about?
Get ready for the most non-exciting answer you’ll probably ever get from a musician. If I remember right, we liked the idea of Watts as a name, but unsurprisingly it was taken. I think one of our friends suggested that we change the ‘a’ to an ‘o’ because the word would still sound the same, and also because ‘ott’ is an abbreviation of where we’re from (Ottawa). So there you have it, I wish it was a cooler story!
Thanks so much for chatting with us you two! It’s been a real treat! Before we let you go, what comes next for the project?
Thanks for having us, we really appreciate it! It’s been a secret up until now, but we’re happy to announce that we have another EP coming out. Everything’s getting finalized but people shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear the first track from that. So if anyone out there digs what we’re doing, keep your eyes peeled for more new music.