The Canadian DJ, producer, and environmental toxicologist bridges worlds on her debut album, weaving orcas’ songs and conservationist messages into deep-diving tracks aimed at inclusive dancefloors.
Jayda Guy’s academic work and musical output have a common goal: Both are designed to make people to think about how they interact with their environments. The Canadian musician presented her master’s thesis about the effects of certain chemicals on an endangered West Coast orca species last year, and she recently started a talk series featuring young scientists. As Jayda G, she’s been responsible for some of the most rapturous disco house to come out of the “Canadian Riviera” scene, and she has captivated crowds worldwide with her uninhibited DJ style. Let other selectors squabble about sharing track IDs and unwarranted wheel-ups—she’d rather concentrate on providing the soundtrack for cathartic, electronic device-free boogieing.
Following a string of excellent EPs and singles on labels including 1080p, Geography Records, and her own JMG Recordings, Significant Changes is the Berlin-based producer’s debut album. Like much of Guy’s previous work, the nine tracks here draw on influences including Chicago house, soul, disco, and 1990s R&B, but her references to the natural world this time around are more overt. Recorded while she was finishing her studies, its bookending intro (“Unifying the Center (Abstract)”) and outro (“Conclusion”) read like parts of a scientific paper; it’s not surprising that there’s a sense of ecological urgency underpinning many of these songs.
In interviews, Guy has frequently expressed her desire to bridge her two passions, and one way she achieves this is by turning field recordings into unexpectedly poignant melodies. The instrumental centerpiece “Orca’s Reprise” is built around the marine mammals’ cries, but the producer smartly avoids new-age chintziness. “Missy Knows What’s Up” takes the concept one step further, sampling the ominous words of Canadian biologist Misty MacDuffee (“Why are these whales threatened and what are we going to do about it?”), and setting them to a thumping backbone.