Saturday’s lineup for CityFolk is quite eclectic, and kicking things off in style will be rocker JJ Wilde.
After her debut single “The Rush” dominated the charts in 2020, Wilde has been making the most of her early success, touring where possible, and releasing new music, including her full-length album Ruthless, and a pair of EPs in 2021 in Wilde and Born To Die, each with their own hit singles that have kept the singer prominently anchored on the rock charts.
The pandemic threw a wrench in her touring plans, but Wilde has still managed to amass quite a slate of appearances at numerous festivals and shows, as well as opening slots for rock legends Pearl Jam in London’s Hyde Park, Scorpions at their three shows in France, and finally KISS in Paris. After those high-profile gigs, Wilde is about to check off another first: launching her own headlining tour this fall across Canada.
We caught up with Wilde ahead of her second Ottawa appearance this Saturday to chat about her quick ascension and future plans.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity
APT613: Last February you opened for The Glorious Sons at TD Place, which was your first show in Ottawa. And now you’re playing the CityFolk stage. That’s a bit different than the standard career progression of playing the small clubs, building up a following and moving to bigger venues.
JJ Wilde: With the pandemic, I didn’t really get a chance to. We did squeeze in a couple little tours in the states right before the pandemic. Then during the pandemic, really nothing happened. I did get to go over to Europe a little bit, but we didn’t really get through a lot of touring.
How was it, not being able to perform as much?
JJW: Um, it sucked! I think any musician will tell you the pandemic was not a great time. As creatives and performers, it’s really difficult when that aspect of your life is taken away. I definitely could still write, but I also found that my inspiration for writing was at an all-time low because I wasn’t experiencing a lot in my life. For me personally, I draw a lot of inspiration for music from my everyday life and personal experiences. So, to have that be the same monotonous thing staring at the inside of my apartment, I went pretty stir-crazy, which eventually ended up in some cool songs, but it was a tough time.
You’ve managed to share the stage with Pearl Jam, Scorpions, KISS, etc. all in the past year. Have you wrapped your mind around how quickly things have gone off?
JJW: Not really. It’s been a little nuts. I’m never gonna say I’m tired again because I was waiting for this for so long. I’m just extremely grateful that we are able to be out touring and sharing the stage with some insanely talented acts.
With the headlining tour coming up, are you starting to look at your set list for that?
JJW: We’ve got enough music to do an hour and a half of original tunes. We usually throw in one cover, “Stop Dragging my Heart Around,” which me and Brett Emmons (of The Glorious Sons) recorded together. But I’ve got more songs than what’s out as well. It’s really fun testing new songs on stage, which we’re gonna be doing as well. Then, of course, I’m touring with Billy Raffoul and we have an EP together, so we are also probably going to be playing a couple of tunes together. It’s fun for me to get to visualize what songs I want and how many and everything. I’m constantly writing, so people are gonna be able to hear music that no one else has heard, and that won’t be out for a bit, so that’s gonna be exciting too. There will be like a sneak peek at the songs off the new album.
That was basically gonna be my follow-up question: how much of the new album is already written?
JJW: I’ve been working on it for quite a bit. It’s hard to say. As an artist that is indecisive, or always trying to get better songs, I’ve got enough songs for the album. Now, the question is, do I wanna keep writing? It’s something I can’t rush and I’m always, “well maybe I’ll beat it with this song” or “maybe I’ll write one more that’ll beat this song.” Eventually, you just have to say, “okay, these are the songs, this is the album.” But no, I’m super excited. I can’t say when it’s coming out, because that would ruin the surprise, but, I’m very excited.
Have you seen any changes in your songwriting now that you can tour and actually experience the world again?
JJW: Yeah, absolutely. I’d like to think at least that my writing is changing all the time. I don’t wanna stay stagnant as an artist. I want things to change constantly, for better, for worse, who knows. But I definitely think that now that there’s a lot more going on in my life and there’s a lot more to pull from, like living through that phase of being cooped up and then being released. There’s so much to pull from in that situation in itself. My writing is always changing and I just try to live my life fully so that I can pull some inspiration.
JJ Wilde’s CityFolk performance is scheduled for Saturday, September 10, at 7 pm at the TD stage. Click here for more details.