JJ Wilde interview “I write my best songs when I’m upset”

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JJ Wilde

“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read,” Frank Zappa 

Ever since I read this quote, I’ve been questioning my “raison d’être.” And then I met JJ Wilde.

On Friday morning, I woke up to find out that my videographer wasn’t available, I couldn’t get my winter tires put on (Montreal had its first snowfall, and the city was a disaster), and I was feeling under the weather.  I had to get downtown by two, find parking and interview someone who probably didn’t even want to talk to me.

As I schlepped camera equipment down St Catherine Street, waited outside in the cold in front of the locked venue and then waited even longer for the artist to arrive, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was there.

And then she appeared. In baggy sweatpants, an oversized wolf sweatshirt and parka, fresh off her tour van after driving for hours, casually admitting that she was hung over, really needed a Bloody Caesar and also was starving.   When her aquamarine eyes spotted the cameras, she froze like a deer in headlights and I realized that she did not know about the interview.  Even with no makeup on, messy hair and dressed in cabin wear, JJ was stunning and exuded a star quality that I felt immediately.  

I told her to go eat something, chill out, do her sound check, and then we could do the interview whenever she wanted. Realizing that it was going to be a long night, she graciously invited us to her VIP cocktail event when I say us, I mean my husband and I.  (Upon hearing that I had no film crew, he left work early and took over.)  So, his day was also full of surprises.  “Cocktail and a cover/VIP experience is an intimate show where JJ actually makes you drinks (she used to be a bartender) and then sings you a few cover songs. It was very special and I’m so grateful that I was invited.

So in between putting on her makeup, scarfing down a smoke meat sandwich, doing her vocal exercises, Soundcheck and then the VIP set, I finally got to speak with Miss Wilde.  And it was worth the wait.

JJ is everything that I love about rock music. Raw and unfiltered, bold and sexy with a fiery energy that cannot be faked. From her gut-wrenching lyrics to her raspy voice, full of passion and pain, Miss Wilde is authentic as fuck. 

I asked her about her writing process and what inspired her, and we laughed a lot.  

“For me, when I write songs, they come from pure emotion; I write my best songs when I’m upset. I don’t write great songs when I’m happy.” JJ

“So people have to piss you off for you to write a hit?” AA

“There is just something that burns inside of you, that emotion when your heart’s broken, when you’re upset and I actually do find I will put myself into bad positions knowing that it’s gonna create good music. Like, I’ll stay in a bad relationship longer than I should because I’m getting good stuff. Which is terrible.” JJ

“Wow, like I hate your ass but you’ll be on the next album.” AA

“Yeah!” JJ

“It’s like the Taylor Swift syndrome.” AA

“Yes, honestly…Donovan Woods has a great lyric;

By the time I get inspired, it’s a sad song. 

And that is so true. JJ

After wrapping up her headlining tour, JJ is heading out to her new place in Nashville for some much-needed downtime and to work on her new album.

“I’m curious what this new album is going to be like cause I know Ruthless was probably written in your 20s. And it was about all the crazy shit you do in your 20s.”

“Uh-huh, and I’m still doing (roars with laughter).  I haven’t grown up at all.” JJ

“Your 20s are designed for you to make all kinds of mistakes.” AA

“Absolutely, cause how else are you supposed to learn? I’m very happy that I chose to live a very loud, crazy life because I gained a lot of experience, making mistakes and then learning from them.” JJ

And I’m very happy that I get to meet people like JJ.  I still get excited discovering new artists, speaking to them about their lives and music and then getting to see them perform. I guess Frank Zappa wasn’t referring to us.

Watch the full interview below:

Annette Aghazarian

Photo credit – Sandra-Lee Layden

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