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by Malvika Padin

Melbourne-based WOLFJAY's new coming-of-age track is a much-needed lesson in letting go of your past self and growing up.

WOLFJAY is the project of Melbourne-based non-binary singer, songwriter, producer and designer Jack Alexander. They now release “In Memory Of,” a song not only written before coming out as queer but as a song they wish they would’ve heard growing up.

Speaking of the track, they explain the inspiration and message: “It was born out of a season of leaving things behind that I was comfortable with, and really loved, but knew weren’t compatible with where I wanted to be. It’s about letting the past die, killing it if you have to, moving on, and acknowledging that the process is hard, but definitely worth it.”

Describing their songs as “little fragments of personal stories,” Alexander’s music is caught between feelings of teenage angst and post-adolescent melancholy. The lyrics tell stories of the lives we once had while setting out for the lives we were meant to have. Sonically, the track delivers a gorgeous and dreamy electro-tinged indie-rock. Their music is one brilliant, poignant layer upon another.

Delving deeper into their coming-of-age music, the queer synth-pop artist says, “I often remember the emotion behind a story more than the story itself, so my songs are normally five-to-six little moments from different memories that feel like they complement each other. It’s interesting to hear what people think my songs mean because I’m often not sure myself! I just know how I’d like them to make you feel.”

Discussing the evolution of their sound, Alexander explains, “Initially, all my music was just made with drum samples and software synths, but with each new release I try to add another element to the mix. Now my songs are mostly live guitars, live drums, string sections and vocals, which is a huge change from where I started. I really want to experiment next with live electronic elements like sequencers and modular synths and see where that takes me.”

Experimentation seems to be central to WOLFJAY’s creative process if their influences and interests are taken into account alongside their music.

On the topic, they talk about films and books, elaborating, “Alejandro Jodorowsky is a huge influence on me and my work. He’s an incredibly prolific filmmaker, writer and musician who’s been creatively active for decades. I fell in love with him after watching ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ about his insane adaptation of Dune that was never made but went on to inform countless science fiction films up till this day.

“I saw a design in a book once that said, ‘I want to ball hard in different aspect ratios,’f and I think that sums up my goals pretty well. WOLFJAY is as much a visual project as it is a musical project at the moment, and I’d love to stretch that out into as many other areas as possible.”

Alexander’s wide range of interests are once again reflected when they speak about their favourite part of the music-making process. “My favourite part of a project is bringing in a few disparate ideas that started in really different places and bringing them together,” they say.

With same sincerity (and sense of humour) with which they insist upon Fast & Furious being the best film franchise in the world, they add, “Making something that shouldn’t work, work. There’s an absurdity in that that I find really rewarding and amusing. I’ll be like, ‘What if Beethoven, with Fall Out Boy drums, and Mr. Chop guitars?’ It’s so stupid [that] it shouldn’t work.”

In spite of this casual remark about things being so stupid that they shouldn’t work, a  lot of things have in fact worked in favour of the rising artist. Recounting what they consider the biggest highlight of their career so far, they say, “The highlight of 2019 was definitely playing at BIGSOUND festival in Australia. It was the first time I performed with my new band setup, and it was super validating to have such a warm reception to the project.”

Speaking of another pinnacle, they say, “One of my favourite musicians, Darren Hanlon, was coming through my city playing some shows in late 2018, and the day of his show, I got a message from him asking if I’d be keen to jump up on stage and sing a few songs with him and that was just the greatest thing.

“I’ve listened to his music for years and been to a bunch of his shows, so to be reached out to and invited to participate in his show was amazing. It was the first time I felt like a peer to someone I deeply respected within the music industry. Definitely the peak of my WOLFJAY journey so far.”

Obviously, the journey is far from over with 2020 goals at the ready. Delving into their biggest goals in detail, they explain, “My No. 1 goal for this year was to play my first international show, which is happening next month. I’m playing in New York in March for The New Colossus festival and I’m so, so excited for it. We have a fundraiser running at the moment to raise money for the trip, and I’m so, so, so excited to finally be in New York. I’ve never been before.”

They add: “I also have a few really practical goals for 2020, like putting out an EP and playing more live shows, but deep down my No. 1 goal is to get my name in the credits of a film. I love movies and going to the cinema and that would just be fucking wild. Come at me, music supervisors!”

Practical but daring to dream, witty yet wise, Jack Alexander is the role model everyone needs as they navigate the world, and their music is what we all need as it pushes us to stick with our dreams and move forward.

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