21 may 2019

'Panic is setting in': Jayda G brings climate crisis home to fans

DJ and producer wants to banish ‘disconnect’ between climate issues and daily life

Lanre Bakare, The Guardian, Tue 21 May 2019

One of dance music’s rising stars is swapping the decks for a microphone to deliver a series of talks about the importance of environmental sciences to help tackle the climate crisis.

Jayda G – real name Jayda Guy – is a Canadian DJ and music producer whose livestreamed mixes on YouTube clock up thousands of views, and now she is fusing two worlds by using her platform to expose fans to issues affecting the natural world.

“These are huge issues that we should be paying attention to,” says Guy, who completed a masters in resource and environmental management after moving to Berlin in 2016 to pursue a career in music.

“The public has a hard time grasping some of these concepts because there’s such a disconnect between our day-to-day lives and the natural world. I wanted to bridge the gap, and invoke empathy for the natural world.”

Guy, who has just released her debut album on the British label Ninja Tune and recently completed a three-week tour of Asia, started the JMG Talks series in February while she was completing a residency at the London venue Phonox.

“The best part of the talks is we’re getting people from a vast array of backgrounds – fans of my music, but also music industry people and scientists – who ask different types of questions,” she says. “I think it’s really invigorating and inspiring, and people can feel that they understand what’s going on.”

At the first event she hosted Dr Lily Zeng, whose anthropological ecology work examined wildlife conservation in south-west China’s sacred forests. The second was with Dr Lindsay Veazey, an oceanographic modeller who studied how coastal development impacted marine life in Hawaii. The third talk – taking place on 22 May – is with Alex Cancelli, whose PhD work focuses on ways to reclaim contaminated water by using ecosystems such as wetlands.

“We’re not just doing this to raise awareness but to also have an emotional feeling to it which isn’t just fear,” says Guy, who wants the talks to demystify cutting-edge environmental work. “There’s a real panic that is setting in around these issues but you have to approach these issues in a more constructive manner.”

Guy’s environmental toxicology research focused on the effects of chemicals on Salish Sea orcas off the west coast of Canada, and her songs are often given names that reference her work, such as Orca’s Reprise, or pay homage to her environmental heroes, such as Missy Knows What’s Up, which refers to the Canadian biologist and conservationist Misty MacDuffee.

“You can’t tell people what to do,” she says. “The best way is giving people as much information as possible and creating an environment where people can ask the questions they want to and not feel judged or ridiculed. That’s a big part of what I’m trying to create with these talks.”

Guy acknowledges her work as a DJ is not eco-friendly, with its regular air travel, but thinks governments need to be more proactive in finding alternatives. “I’m not pretending that I am the model person in terms of my actions because, obviously, as a DJ, I have a large carbon footprint,” Guy says.

“But we need to find more renewable ways to travel around. We need to be able to live in a world where we have viable options presented to us.”

>>> Back to list