It’s a brave artist who attempts to bring a more serious message onto the dancefloor. Normally, the club is where clubbers go for release. A safe place where people can escape the more significant issues that face our world and simply lose themselves in the music. However, British Columbia native, Jayda Guy (Jayda G) sincerely believes that there is room for club music that makes people think about the environment, particularly the conservation of our marine life.
This is a distinctly personal issue for Guy. At the same time as completing her Masters in Resource and Environmental Management specializing in environmental toxicology, wherein she investigated the effects of human activity on the Salish Sea killer whales, she was also writing the music that would become her debut album Significant Changes. Naturally, her studies had a profound effect on her music and have ultimately lead to an album that admirably aims to get those on the dancefloor thinking as well as grooving.
“Unifying the Centre (Abstract)” slinks into view with ethereal vocal loops wrapped around springy, rippling beats, and soulful jazzy keyboard runs. Functioning like the abstract to an essay it provides a quick overview of what’s to come, before the sumptuous R&B of “Renewal (Hyla Mix)” finds Guy adding snappy percussion and a low string hook to the mix as hazy vocal loops gently glide in and out of frame.
“Stanley’s Get Down (No Parking on the DF)” is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek dig at those club goers that dare to stare down, hypnotized by their phones rather than get swept up by the floor shaking groove that’s sweeping up hearts and minds all over the dancefloor. With her spoken word vocals, popping bassline, and a thumping beat, the whole thing is more than capable of shaking anyone’s phones clean out of their hands.
Now that she’s got your attention, she isn’t about to lose it and on “Leave Room 2 Breathe” Guy keeps things firmly in the club. With Alex Dash’s soulful voice rising like a kite in the middle of the dancefloor, Guy gives it just enough wind to keep it dancing as she creates an authentic, classic Chicago house vibe.
One of the things that make Significant Changes such a success is the manner in which Guy subtly brings in the more deeper, serious themes that are clearly very important to her.
On the meditative, “Orca’s Reprise”, Guy emulates the majesty of nature with Japanese strings and Orca whale song that illustrates just how wonderfully otherworldly these animals are. It’s a wake-up call as to what is at stake should we fail to take action, something compounded by “Missy Knows What’s Up”. Here, Guy juxtaposes spoken pronouncements from Canadian biologist Misty MacDuffee about the very real plight of these mammals with a foreboding, throbbing beat to create electronic music with a clear environmental conscious.
Alex Dash returns on “Sunshine in the Valley”, a soaring disco number designed purely to make the world a little more fabulous. With syncopated bass and a taut rhythm, it’s the musical equivalent of finally flicking the switch on a room full of fairy lights. If the desire to lose yourself on the dancefloor hasn’t taken hold by now, then “Move to the Front (Disco Mix)” will surely erase those last hanging threads of resistance. Guy herself takes center stage to encourage the women dancing at the back to get up front as she implores, them to “shake those hip bones and twerk.” Guy knows her audience and she is playing to those who just want to let their bodies run wild to the sounds coming from the speakers.
Finally, plaintive piano notes and lilting strings bring the whole thing to a close on the appropriately named “Conclusion”. Just like the conclusion of her thesis, it’s a thoughtful ending that invites the audience to ponder on the wider themes of the album.
Opening her music to a broader discussion compliments the music beautifully as she integrates the spirit of environmental care and conservation as well as espousing the importance of people being together and present in the same space. As a platform for further discussion and as a funky, hip shaking, unifying electronic album, Significant Changes is a triumph.