Jay Wood Interview

by the partae

Where are you currently based?

Margaret River, WA.

What’s been happening recently?

In amongst my daily ritual surf check and hanging with my dog on the property, I have just released my first single ‘oh well’ and have been riding the wave of releasing new music!

How did you first start playing music?

I did guitar lessons when I was 12 for about two weeks before I got bored and quit (as kids do haha) Later I made friends with a girl when I was 16 who sung and played music, and I thought “I reckon I could do that” so I began to teach myself to play. My dad, (who also plays guitar) noticed I was trying to learn again and so he surprised me by swapping an old surfboard for a Cole Clark Fat Lady (complete with tales of touring Europe and a crack in the neck!), which he gifted me! LEGEND!

You’ve had a very traumatic and testing childhood due to a very severe car accident where you actually died and were revived, how has this affected your life and music?

My childhood was actually brilliant!

The car accident you refer to happened when I was 24 and on my way to dinner with friends. A drunk driver hit our vehicle and luckily a nurse was on her way home from shift and she was able to help before paramedics arrived. This incident profoundly affected my life as I was left disabled, with what’s called a Catastrophic Traumatic Brain Injury. Amongst many other faculties, I lost all ability to play music or remember my own songs. As you can imagine this was a devastating thing to realise.

It took you years to re-learn how to walk, how to function on a daily basis and how to play music again, for which doctors told her she would never be able to do, how did you defy the odds?

Learning to walk was done in the first few months in hospital but learning the rest of adult brain function is a different story! Doctors told me that I was “totally and permanently incapacitated”, meaning I would never work again in any capacity. This really didn’t sit well with me, so I decided I would prove everyone who either left me or told me I couldn’t, wrong. It was as simple and as complicated as making a choice. From there I began the painstaking journey of re-training and re-connecting my neural pathways in my brain at the Institute of Functional Neuroscience. This process took roughly 3 years, but the process to release music took about 5years. Turns out music is an incredibly healing thing and is fantastic for our brains.

Please tell us about what or who influences your music?

I write music purely from a place of creativity inspired by the throws of love and life itself. In my opinion love and life are synonymous.

What or who motivates you to release music?

I think the inner drive to overcome the difficult cards my life dealt me and to prove those who deserted, doubted and told me I’d not amount to anything, wrong! is the main motivator for me. However, and more importantly to that, I want to show people that they can overcome anything and create the life they want to live. No matter what, you have the privilege of choice. I grew up with a saying on the bathroom wall of my childhood home that said – “What happens to you does not matter. What you BECOME through those experiences is all that is significant. This is the true MEANING of life.” Unknown.

Life really helped me understand this saying in more ways than one!

Your latest single ‘Initial Pulse’ is a celebration of life and is your second single release from her upcoming 1st September EP, what does this single mean to you?

This song means a lot to me as it was the first song, I managed to write post-accident. It was a joint celebration of new-found love/connection, as well as the new ability to play music again.

What or who influenced the sound and song writing for this track?

I wrote this song when I experienced love for the first-time post-accident. It was written at a time that being able to create music was new again, as if a new chapter of my story had begun.

In terms of the sound, I didn’t want it to be too light considering the gravity of being able to write music again with this song. I felt in order for it to be authentic to me and my style of song writing, It needed to have depth and substance without creating a “heaviness” when listening to it.

The song ended up using the theme of new love, those first heartbeats for someone, as a metaphor for life in general. A fresh start and new beginning to life.

Where and when did you record and who did you work with?

I recorded this song at Norman Solander Studios in Perth, WA. My producer Darryn Ball was extremely patient working alongside me, within my capabilities and health setbacks.

The session artists who are in the song were each fabulous and included: Clancy Lethbridge (Bass), Jack Hill (Drums), Miranda Murray-Yong (Cello), Dennes Arto-Cruise (Lead Guitar), Alexis Naylor (Piano), Grace Newton-Wordsworth (BVs).

Please tell us about the 5 years that it took you to get to the point of re-learning music enough and building your function to create this EP:

I don’t think there’s enough time or space for me to answer this question adequately! Haha The process was incredibly arduous and extensive, not to mention time consuming. I will try to give you a brief run down.

I guess I should start from the beginning of my life post-accident. Though I have no recollection of the time period in hospital, my father who is an avid guitar player brought his Stratocaster (sans amplifier of course) in to my hospital room and played to me whilst I was in a coma.

Eventually when I had learned to walk, talk and have the ability to remember my own name again, I was sent home with my parents to begin my life from scratch. I had been labelled as “totally and permanently incapacitated” by doctors, meaning I would no longer be able to work in any capacity. I was 24 years old.

On top of this; my long-term partner left me, my career as a Primary school teacher had ended and I was back living in a country town with my parents acting as my only support. It felt as though I had been left with nothing. So, one day I decided I would grab my guitar and enjoy my hobby of playing music (of which I had only ever played in private to myself).

 I picked up my guitar, positioned myself to play and…… nothing. I stared at my instrument and my mind went into deep confusion turned devastation at the realisation I could no longer play music or remember my own songs. As you can imagine, amongst everything else my injury had taken away, this was one part of me that I couldn’t bare the thought of losing. With me in tears, my father took me aside and told me “it is in there Jay, we just have to find it again” and he showed me three chords on guitar. An A, G and C chord. From that point onwards, I decided I didn’t care what it took, I would learn to play again. I spent years re-learning how to play and remember my own songs. In order to do this, I needed to also spend a vast amount of time doing intense therapy at the Institute of Functional Neuroscience. A kind of therapy designed to assist brain function and rebuild neural pathways. Needless to say it was an extremely difficult few years. In addition to this a very dear friend of mine took her life at the tender age of 27. This profoundly impacted me.

During this time period of about 3-5years I learned (very much the hard way) what was most important in life, and that I was the only person capable of deciding the kind of future I would have. I wasn’t going to let anyone, doctor or not, tell me what I could and couldn’t achieve. Perhaps the only beneficial side-effect of my Traumatic Brain Injury is the lowering of inhibitions, allowing me the courage to perform my songs outside of my own company. I took it upon myself to try my hand at playing in front of a crowd, and it turns out, people not only enjoyed my performance but were routinely asking where they could listen to my songs. This boost along with the courage and determination I had gained from my life experiences spurred me on with my musical career. Although the process of officially releasing music took longer than most with unfortunate recurrent health issues stagnating the process, the 5-year wait has been worthwhile with my first song “Oh Well” having a resounding positive response in the lead up to my Debut EP “Respire” being let loose on the world September 1.

I guess the moral of my hectic life story is relatively simple.


Who are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to all kinds of music depending on my mood! I made a playlist that has a completely random array of artists I listen to from Folk to Hip Hop, pop, house and rock! The list goes on…

What’s planned for the remainder of 2023?

Releasing my Debut EP, “Respire” on September 1. From there the sky’s the limit!

Favourite food and place to hangout?

I think my favourite cuisine is Japanese food, however my partners home cooking has to be number 1! My favourite place to hangout it definitely on the coast. I am down the beach pretty much every day, rain hail or shine.

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