21 and over
Jackson Phillips understands the value of proper headspace. The California based vocalist/multi-instrumentalist behind Day Wave has a knack for carving out room for his talents to grow, both in his life and in his music. Trained as a jazz drummer in his youth, Phillips studied the instrument at the esteemed Berklee College of Music before switching gears to learn production and recording. Infused with a new sense of sonic understanding, he began to focus on songwriting, and learned to dial back the complex scholastic headiness of sound in favor of a more honed in, precise, and felt outlet. The result is Day Wave’s unique brand of euphoric purity.A truly evolutionary solo project, Day Wave’s music is earnest, guitar-based dream pop with electronic undertones, propelled by Phillips’s self-dissecting lyrics and knack for melancholy melody. Reminiscent of The Postal Service, Real Estate, DIIV, Nada Surf, more, its origin as a lo-fi emotional exercise has expanded to a tighter, better realized production while maintaining its stripped back aesthetic. But Day Wave is not emo, to be sure: it’s just honest.“The main idea with the music is to grow, sonically and in every way, and that’s kind of why it started out small and lo-fi—so there was room to grow,” Phillips says. “I wanted to give myself headroom so the future projects could be taken somewhere.”
Following his time in Boston at Berklee, the 27-year-old Phillips, a native of Northern California’s Marin County, spent some time in New York and Los Angeles before moving to Oakland and starting Day Wave in the summer of 2014. He bought his first guitar and a drum machine and began looking at music from the perspective of a songwriter, as opposed to that of a specialist, with the aim of simplification foremost in his mind. At times overwhelmed by the limitless scope of music software and machines, Phillips found the new approach medicinal.
“You can lose the music when you get so caught up in all the technology,” he says. “I was kind of burnt out and I wanted to approach it from a different angle. I was only using synthesizers, still new to everything beyond just being a drummer. I was doing the same thing over and over again. I kind of boxed myself into this one way of creating songs, so I bought a guitar to simplify things.”
He finished his first batch of songs in November of 2014, eventually self-releasing an EP called Headcase. He called the project Day Wave as a nod to what the finished music sounded like, and slowly started to pick up buzz on Soundcloud and from blogs. Empowered by the act of creating music with only himself to please, Phillips flourished.