On our radar: JJ Wilde

JJ Wilde
(Image credit: JJ Wilde)

For the first spotlight in our new artist showcase, we have a Canadian singer-songwriter who is already making huge waves in her home country. This year JJ Wilde became the first female artist to win Rock Album Of The Year at the prestigious Juno Awards. Alanis Morisette was the last woman to win it in 1996 for Jagged Little Pill and there are certainly comparisons to be drawn with the compelling confessionals Wilde recorded for her debut, Ruthless. 

She's now looking at crossing over to a new global audience with new EP Wilde – a six-song release that also includes her collaboration with Brett Emmons of fellow Canucks and touring mates The Glorious Sons on a cover of the Stevie Nicks / Tom Petty classic Stop Draggin' My Heart Around.

We talked to JJ about her creative process and inspirations. 

How would you describe your sound to a new listener?

JJ Wilde: "It’s always hard for me as a musician to describe my sound because music means so many different things to different people. It’s all up for interpretation. I would say my music is raw,, emotional and from the heart. My songs are all very personal to me. The sound is rock, heavy guitars, big booming drums and a rumbling bass line." 

What artists do you think you could potentially share fans with?

"I did my first two tours with The Glorious Sons, so we definitely share a few fans from that experience. Besides them I’d say anyone who loves rock music!"

Which of your songs best represents you and why?

"All my songs come from different aspects and times of my life so it’s hard to pick just one. Feelings represents the inner workings of my mind, and during the writing process the brink of insanity you can come to as a writer trying to push yourself too hard."

This EP was all created during the pandemic so there is definitely some frustration that leaked into this project from not being able to play shows

 What has inspired the creative process for the EP?

"This EP was all created during the pandemic so there is definitely some frustration that leaked into this project from not being able to play shows. But having the time off to do more writing influenced this record in a very positive way as well, I had more time to sit with the songs than I usually do, to refine and make changes. I also had more time to write just for me, and I think there’s a real honesty that comes from that." 

What is your favourite musical experience/memory with this project so far?

"There’s too many to count. Some pretty surreal moments were opening for Incubus in Buffalo, for the biggest crowd we had ever played. The energy from that crowd is something I’ll never forget. Another favourite moment of mine was my first writing trip in LA. I felt like such a kid. Wide-eyed and totally enamoured by everything."

 Is there a particular album that had a big impact on you growing up and how?

"One album that I really attached myself to when I was young was O by Damien Rice. The raw emotion, the simplicity, and story; it was captivating to me. At an age where I was figuring out my own emotions, it spoke to me." 

If you could steal the production off one album/track, which would you take and why? 

"I love the production of Nathaniel Ratliff and the Night Sweats 2015 album. It feels warm, worn in and almost has a vinyl feel to it."  

"I love hand writing my songs out, it’s the only way I can make sense of them"

Do you have any go-to gear for songwriting and demoing ideas and why is it important to you?

"Just my guitar and my notebook. I love hand writing my songs out, it’s the only way I can make sense of them. It also helps me remember the lyrics and melody to write them out." 

What instrument or piece of gear would you like to get next and why?

"I would love to get a great electric set up and start learning slide. It's on my bucket list."

Where would you like to take your sound next? 

"For me I just want my songs to continue to come from a genuine place.  The sound will naturally evolve with the song writing, and as I grow as a person, my interests in sounds will change. So for now, who knows! But the key is to keep evolving and growing." 

The EP Wilde and the album Ruthless are out now. For more info visit JJ Wilde

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.