JayWood – the moniker of Winnipeg musician & songwriter Jeremy Haywood-Smith – presents a new single/video, “Thank You,” from his forthcoming album, Slingshot, out July 15th on Captured Tracks. The album’s penultimate track, “Thank You” was co-produced with Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Blouse and features string arrangements by Johan Lenox. The song brings JayWood’s sound full circle, offering something reminiscent of Haywood-Smith’s earliest recordings while flaunting that “the best is yet to come.” “‘Thank You’ is a song that’s dedicated to the folks that aren’t really in my life anymore, but more importantly it’s for my mom who passed away back in 2019.” says Haywood-Smith. “I feel like this song kinda wrote itself, it felt so easy to put together because I knew the core of what I was trying to get across. The demo for this song felt super strong but after Jake and I spent some time expanding a few ideas, the song really blossomed into something I couldn’t ever imagine.”
The charming accompanying video, directed by Chantel Simpson, shows Haywood-Smith passing out flowers across Harlem.
The narrative for Slingshot takes place in the span of one day. From the first track to the last track, JayWood takes you on a journey that touches on themes of childhood, religion, and identity. While writing and recording the album, Haywood-Smith put together a complex “script” mapping out all of the plot points, environments, characters that make up this surreal version of his real life. Musically, Haywood-Smith wrote and performed a bulk of the track’s instrumentations, but the LP has notable appearances from Canadian contemporaries Ami Cheon and McKinley Dixon, and fellow Manitoban musician Kayla Fernandes who fronts the doom-metal band Vagina Witchcraft. Despite the culturally homogenous nature of his hometown, Haywood-Smith takes inspiration from a wide range of Black performers and artists working in all genres and eras. “This album felt like I was making something that I would want my younger self to hear.”
Born and raised in the Canadian prairies, JayWood has captured Haywood-Smith’s journey of self-discovery and heartache through unique songwriting since 2015. After the loss of his mother in 2019 and a global standstill with multiple social crises throughout 2020, Haywood-Smith yearned for forward momentum. “The idea of looking back to go forward became a really big thing for me—hence the title, ‘Slingshot,’” Haywood-Smith explains. Feeling disconnected from his past and ancestry after the death of a parent, Haywood-Smith made a conscious effort to better understand his identity and unique Black experience living in the predominantly white province of Manitoba. Slingshot is a self-portrait of JayWood at his surface and his depths, merging fantasy scenarios, personal anecdotes, and infectious pop and dance instrumentals.