Interview: Day Wave maintains lo-fi charm on debut album

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Jackson Phillips — aka Day Wave — became a new addition to the eclectic Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles just a few months ago. The move came just prior to the release of his excellent debut full-length album The Days We Had, which dropped earlier this month via Harvest Records.

“It’s been cool just exploring and getting a change of scenery a bit,” the Bay Area, California native said in a phone interview with Pass The Aux. “I usually move every couple of years because I get kind of anxious or something.”

Phillips is a one-man band when it comes to recording under the Day Wave moniker. He recorded two EPs earlier in his young career in his home studio, and continued that trend on the new album of flying solo. When he tours, he brings friends along for the ride to fill out his band, but in the studio it is all Phillips. Despite joining a label late last year, the new record retains the same lo-fi charm of his earlier work.

“The production is similar in the way that I approach it,” Phillips said of the new record. “I still recorded everything to tape, but there were things I did that go beyond the EPs. Like I played all the drums live, which I don’t really have the capability to do that in my home studio and make it sound good. That’s why I always programmed the drums. But I think it stays pretty true to the [past material].”

Day Wave will play a gig at the El Rey Theatre on Wednesday, June 28, just a 15 minute or so drive from his newly-adopted Echo Park home. The last time he played in Los Angeles, he turned in a memorable performance at the Troubadour this past November. Phillips said that the El Rey will be his first headlining slot in a theatre, and he’s pretty excited.

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When listening to Day Wave, I hear some similarities to The Cure in terms of the upbeat guitars coupled with melancholy songwriting.

“They definitely are an influence,” Phillips said when I told him I caught similar vibes. “I never referenced them and went and listened to them and tried to emulate it but I definitely have that sound in mind and I think I can probably hear, ‘Oh this kind of sounds like that a little bit.’ But yeah, a lot of people like Brian Eno, Brian Wilson, and bands like My Bloody Valentine, there’s a lot of their influence on this album.”

The Days We Had is a strong first effort top to bottom. Songs like “Untitled” and “Wasting Time” were dropped prior to the album’s release, but it’s deep cut “Bring You Down” that Phillips considered his favorite at the time of our interview.

“I think that one just feels the most like I’m listening to someone else,” Phillips said. “Because when I’m listening to my own music, it’s hard to get past my own ideas and knowing I made every little element in the song and knowing what each thing is doing — it almost makes it less special than when I listen to something someone else create and I don’t know how they did it. But with ‘Bring You Down’ I can just get into the zone, and be like someone else made it.”

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Phillips’ vocals sound much different on “Bring You Down” than much of the other material — much deeper in tone. It’s certainly a standout track on the album.

My personal favorite is “Home”, a song that features just enough of that shoegaze guitar sound without it being too overpowering. Phillips’ vocals drift on top of the track seamlessly, washing over the listener like a chill wave in the ocean.

Be sure to catch Day Wave next month at the El Rey — tickets are extremely reasonably priced at $18.00 and are still on sale. Blonder and Dear Boy serve as support acts and doors open at 7:30 PM with the show starting at 8:30. You can also catch Day Wave at BottleRock Napa this weekend if you happen to be there! He plays Friday, May 26 at 3:30 PM on the Lagunitas Stage.

BUY TICKETS TO SEE DAY WAVE AT THE EL REY ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28

Photos courtesy of Todd Westphal