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15 minutes with Gum’s Jay Watson

Words by Tina Summers

Out in the world and into isolation.

Jay Watson is the insanely talented multi-instrumentalist best known for his incredible solo work under the moniker Gum (as well as his work with Tame Impala and POND), who’s just released his fifth studio album Out In The World. The album was written and recorded at his home in Fremantle, combining an eclectic and idiosyncratic mix of genres that makes this album pure Gum goodness.

On the album, Jay has said, “Out In The World is my attempt at making a record that combines my fascination of how other people live their lives, with my own internal desire to analyse mine and improve it.” We caught up with him to ask a few questions about the album we can’t stop listening to.

So, what have you been up to over the last couple of months?

I’ve just been hanging at home in Fremantle, working on other people’s records and spending time with my family. It’s been a nice break on a purely selfish level, to be honest.

Out In The World is your fifth solo album. How do you feel your approach to making music has changed from the first to now?

I think my approach is basically the same actually, it’s just with every album I get more confident with every facet of it, the writing, recording, mixing, artwork, photos, videos, etc. I’m finding it easier to make music that I can stand behind and enjoy, and I think a lot of that comes from experience.

Did you have a lol at the title, given that Out In The World was announced as lockdown kicked in?

So many songs of this record seem prescient for these times, even though I recorded them almost two years ago. It’s quite eerie actually.

You’ve said that the album’s title track ‘Out In The World’ is “about wanting to give up and never talk to anyone ever again after something goes wrong.” Can you tell us a bit about what inspired the track?

I was just trying to capture a very specific emotion that I have from time to time. It sounds like light coming in through half-shut blinds.

Given that your music is so respected by the industry, I wondered what pressure you feel around releasing a new body of work?

I didn’t know that it was respected the industry, that’s nice to hear and news to me! The only pressure comes from myself these days, to be honest, I’m my worst critic but I also value my own taste. I hate to disappoint myself with mediocrity.

Is there more freedom or more pressure that comes with success?

I don’t know how to measure success as an artist, but I feel less pressure now that I make music for a living. I’m incredibly fortunate in that regard and I try not to take it for granted.

What does solo songwriting offer you compared to your work with Pond and Tame Impala?

It’s a particular type of satisfaction to make something entirely on your own, everyone has experienced it somewhere before. I imagine it feels a bit like when the sourdough bread you made in lockdown turns out quite good, I never had a shot at that. Maybe next pandemic.

Do you prefer collaboration or isolation, when it comes to writing and/or performing music?

I prefer working with other people; it can be quite confusing and lonely recording on your own, but I do find it very therapeutic.

Imagine you’re planning a post-iso party. What records would you spin?

Hmm, James Brown, Diana Ross, Chic, classic party music.

If you could collaborate with one artist on the planet, who would you choose and why? What would it sound like?

I would love to work with Andre 3000, he’s a real musical hero of mine – who knows what it would sound like. I’d be too intimidated to do anything good anyway.

Where would you like to be in ten years’ time?

I’m pretty happy and grateful to be where I am now, so I’d like to keep it that way. Maybe try and buy a farm in South West Australia.

What’s next for you?

Pond album, hopefully work on the next Montero album, some remixes and then start recording my next one!

Listen to Jay Watson’s latest album ‘Out In The World‘ here. 

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