Jai Wolf Loves Pop Punk Just As Much As You Do

Photo by Sarah Perdue

You can hear it now, right?

Sajeeb Saha, aka Jai Wolf, meets us in Chicago in a supremely modern cranberry jacket, white T-shirt, and, perhaps most astoundingly, crisp white sneakers that have evaded every trace of mud, despite the week’s heavy rain. He’s certainly not as flashy as some other artists we've met, but, as he tells us, it’s by design. Saha has honed both his style and sound over the years into something timeless, with his taste morphing from dubstep in his earlier days into his now signature dreamlike sound that nods to pop, downtempo, and indie dance. With an itch to find out more about the person behind hits like “Indian Summer,” we tumble into topics from Game of Thrones to pop punk, each bit giving a glimpse into the journey of his vision to create something enduring.

What famous person dead or living do you wish could have as a roommate?
Michael Cera. I feel like he would not bother you and would be doing weird things. I’d want to observe him for days at a time. I feel like he’s hiding something… what’s Michael Cera’s secret?

What is your favorite driving music?
I think ODESZA’s older albums from way back. Also, for road trips, when I was starting out and we would drive from New York to Boston, Philly, D.C, we would throw on old-school pop punk records, like blink-182.

I would have never guessed you were a pop punk fan.
2007 was a good year for that. There was Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance; Panic! at the Disco just came on the scene, Paramore was blowing up. I really loved the music, but I never penetrated the scene fully. Something about pop punk really spoke to me. I really like the poppier side of pop punk; I wasn’t listening to too much Taking Back Sunday or Good Charlotte. I liked straight-up big hooks.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.
Timeless, classic, simple. I’m trying to dress more simply, where I can look back on photos in 10 years and be able to say, “Oh, I’d still wear that today.” So I always wear solid-colored T-shirts and white shoes. I’d wear black skinny jeans 10 years from now; I’d wear white or black T-shirts 10 years from now.

When are you most relaxed?
When you’re an artist, you have a very stressful schedule that’s nonstop. My ritual for the day, my absolute Zen moment, is watching Netflix and eating food. There’s something about shutting the world off completely and watching a TV show and eating. I know it sounds weird, but as you grow older, you begin to appreciate really tiny things a lot more. For me, I savor that moment.

What was the last thing you binge watched?
I’m currently rewatching Game of Thrones. I’ve rewatched it a bunch throughout the years, but now that we’re seven seasons deep, I need a quick refresher. I started again at Season 4. I get super into it; I keep catching new things after a few rewatches, and I go on forums and read fan theories.

What’s the last good thing you read?
Oh man, I used to read a lot as a kid. Now, I dunno, I guess I mainly read Reddit [laughs].

Okay, so what’s your favorite sub-Reddit?
My favorite one to show people is r/cringe. It’s full of cringe videos of people doing cringe-y things. I love things like The Office where you get second-hand embarrassment—it’s like torturing yourself. I love cringe videos.

What kind of person were you in high school?
I was very dorky. I was in orchestra. I was in all the AP classes. I was shy and kind of quiet. I don’t think I dressed well. My mom would buy my clothes and at some point, maybe 10th grade, way late, I was like, “I think it’s time to start buying my own clothes.”

Do you have any phobias?
I have arachnophobia. I hate spiders. I read somewhere that a true phobia is super-intense? I don’t get super-scared, but I hate pictures of spiders, movies with spiders… close up, even the way they move, I hate it. If it’s a house spider, it’s not that bad, but I definitely don’t enjoy their presence.

If you had to live in a past time, what do you think would be the most fun era and why?

I’m addicted to technology so that’s a hard question.

You could go to the recent past, like the ‘90s.
I feel like so many people fetishize the ‘90s and feel super-nostalgic about it, and I kind of don’t get it. Maybe it’s because, as an immigrant, I didn’t get the full force of ‘90s culture. I wasn’t watching Friends; I missed out on things like Boy Meets World. I was just a kid, doing my thing. My nostalgia is for 2000 to 2010—the aughts? So I guess I’d hop back a few years. They were simpler times, minus high school. Something about that time was super-cool and hopeful.

Cara Delevingne, Ashley Benson, and Agyness Deyn also star

Elisabeth Moss is trying to keep it together as punk rock artist Becky Something in the trailer for forthcoming movie Her Smell. She's surrounded by iconic faces who make up her band Something She, Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff and Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell, as she grapples with the fact that her musical prowess just doesn't draw as big a crowd as it used to.

In addition to the wavering fame, Becky is "grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom," according to a press release. "When Becky's chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success." And what's clear from the trailer, Moss is absolutely meant for this role, transforming into the punk on the brink of collapse.

Rounding out the cast are Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, and Dan Stevens. Watch the official trailer, below. Her Smell hits theaters on April 12 in New York and 14 in L.A., with "national expansion to follow."




Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In an acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards

As The 1975 accepted the BRIT Award for Best British group, outspoken frontman Matty Healy shared the words of journalist Laura Snapes as a way of calling out misogyny that remains ever-present in the music industry. Healy lifted a powerful quote from Snapes' coverage of allegations against Ryan Adams for The Guardian: "Male misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of 'difficult' artists, [while] women and those who call them out are treated as hysterics who don't understand art."

Snapes reacted almost immediately on Twitter, saying she was "gobsmacked, and honoured that he'd use his platform to make this statement." Snapes had originally written the line for an interview she published with Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek back in 2015, in response to Kozelek publicly calling her a "bitch" who "totally wants to have my babies" because she requested to speak in person rather than via e-mail, which she brought up in the more recent piece on Adams. Kozelek's vile response, and the misogyny that allowed it to play out without real consequences, it could be argued, could have easily played out in the same way in 2019, which makes her reiteration of the line, and Healy's quoting it on such a large platform, all the more important.

It should be noted that back in December, Healy caught a bit of heat himself on Twitter for an interview with The Fader in which he insinuated that misogyny was an issue exclusive to hip-hop, and that rock 'n' roll had freed itself of it. He clarified at length on Twitter and apologized, saying, "I kinda forget that I'm not very educated on feminism and misogyny and I cant just 'figure stuff out' in public and end up trivializing the complexities of such enormous, experienced issues."