Pit stops on Teen Daze's electro journey
// JJ Brewis

“People can think Teen Daze is whatever they want.” Indeed, the Fraser Valley artist doesn’t care to have his real name attached to the project at all, instead going singularly as Jamison. However, one-on-one, the twenty-something bespectacled young musician is fully relatable, gushing over the newest Real Estate record, sipping on a Dr. Pepper in a downtown dollar slice parlour. “I wanted a separation from Teen Daze and me, personally. Even if it's keeping my full name out of it, then that's mine – it’s one thing that I get to keep.”

“For the longest time, I'd been making music and releasing it, and nobody had been paying attention,” he says. And then one day, everything fell into place. Nearing the end of his college life, Teen Daze recorded a fresh batch of songs, quietly put them online, and the next thing he knew, things were happening.

“It was harder to reach that bigger audience, but as soon as I started getting lots of emails from labels and press agencies and blogs, I thought, 'Maybe I'm actually onto something with this.’” A year and a half later, he’s embarked on three tours, released five EPs online, and is awaiting the release of his first full LP.

In spite of wanting to be known only for his music, Teen Daze is comfortable to talk about his ideologies. He’s up front about his Christian roots, but brings discussion back to the music. He says that his faith is part of his artistic process, but not the whole picture. “I can’t see myself writing an oblique Christian record. It's a tough situation because I don't want the music to be a vessel for that.” He points to artists like Sufjan Stevens who are very to-the-point when merging their religious views with their music. But for Teen Daze, the separation of church and art is important, despite both meaning a lot to him personally. “I'd much rather sit in a room with someone and have a conversation than have a song that tries to get across my own ideologies,” he says. “If I went to make a song that was very straight forward and evangelical and preaching, it's like the equivalent of me handing you a track that says, ‘If you don’t pray for forgiveness, you’re going to hell,’ and walking away.” Though he says the two facets aren’t married, his history of playing live in a church has affected his live show. “I can’t help but let [Christianity] influence the music. It does come through subconsciously,” he says.

As someone who grew up with a violinist father and listening to the Beach Boys, Teen Daze feels like he is living out a natural destiny. “Music was always important in my house,” he says. “I always had this really healthy fascination with records. It always just sort of made sense to be involved with it somehow.”

After playing in his first band in freshman year, he moved to the Prairies and back, and began working in electronic-based sounds. With a rough five or six records’ worth of unheard material, Teen Daze is used to home recording, something he fully embraces. “I have some younger friends, some guys just out of high school that want to do music and that think, 'Oh, I need to go to Vancouver to record a proper album,' and I'm like, ‘No you don't, you can record an album in your bedroom and that'll be a great first record.’”

In describing his upcoming album, Teen Daze announces a definite departure. “I become a little bored with just doing the same thing. I tend to be listening to a lot of new stuff very quickly in succession, and I tend to digest all of these different influences quite quickly.” Whereas his first few releases were quite focused and themed, like the summer-envisioned Beach Dreams, his new work will be more true to his genre-hopping nature. “It's definitely an electronic record but it's over many sub-genres,” he explains. “There's some really summery pop electronic stuff, and some darker sample based stuff … it’s sort of a collection.”

Teen Daze also finds inspiration beyond music. His most recent release, Silent Planet came from his appreciation of the 1938 C.S. Lewis novel Out of the Silent Planet. “One review said, ‘This is more comparable to Gregorian chant than a pop record.’ And I took huge compliment to that!” he says, explaining that the album was based on his personal interpretation of the book itself, much like how the cover artist revisits the work visually. “I read this novel, and I had to make music that sounds like the way that it made me feel and see,” he says. “The images it evokes to me are very clear and colourful. I read it when I was studying in Switzerland a couple years ago and it just stuck with me.”

Teen Daze emphasizes that in spite of the work’s personal resonance, it’s always about the music and not about himself. “There was something fun about doing it under anonymity,” he says, finishing off the crust of his dollar slice. For a guy who seems to think of himself as a regular person, Teen Daze has certainly captured audiences with a unique sound – but that is all part of the plan. “If I wrote songs about my day-to-day life, it would be like, ‘Here's a song about how I woke up and ate a bowl of Reese Puffs, watched Breaking Bad and went for a run.”

// JJ Brewis, Art Director
// Photograph by JJ Brewis

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