INTRODUCING JEIDA WOODS, THE SYDNEY SINGER LOOKING TO FILL THE R&B VOID
Words by Christopher Kevin Au / Photography by Chris Loutfy
You might have heard Jeida Woods' various demos on Soundcloud, or seen his face splashed across fashion billboards over the past few seasons. Still, treat this as your formal introduction: Woods' first official release is 'Selfless', where the 21-year-old artist looks to fill the R&B void currently opening down under. And despite its slow, smouldering pace, 'Selfless' has already begun to turn heads with immediacy; it's a dark, decadent slice of contemporary R&B that tugs on enough heartstrings to have appeal well beyond Australia's borders.
"I feel like I'm here to offer a unique take on R&B music in Australia and eventually take it globally," Woods says. "I mess with all the people that are doing drill music, hip-hop, pop; I really like what everyone's doing with that, but I feel like a lot of R&B is missing." Woods names CVIRO, GXNXVS and Anfa Rose as local crooners and colleagues that he respects, while a browse through his Soundcloud page will also show a duet with West Sydney vocalist Jessica Jade. "Myself, and some other R&B artists as well, I feel like we have a lot to offer to the community," he adds.
'Selfless' is Woods' most alluring effort yet, combining his melancholy vocals with late-night production, exploring issues of young love and the seemingly inevitable heartbreak that follows. "In a weird way, I want people to take the song personally, but not at the same time," he says. "I want them to feel the rhythm, and contrast their life with what I'm singing as well; but not to take it too much to heart, because I guess the point of making music is really to get away from your problems." The pensive beat comes courtesy of Melbourne producer Lucianblomkamp, who recently contributed to 6lack's East Atlanta Love Letter. And like Woods, he also draws heavily from both R&B and electronica.
"My music style is dark but bass-y and vibe-y, love songs that a lot of people can resonate with, but still creating something that has enough energy to get you moving as well," he says. Interestingly, Woods says his primary influences are electronic producers, rather than the nostalgic R&B singers of yesteryear: Eden, Crywolf and Kick The Habit are some of the artists he honours. It's a wide-eyed nod to Woods' younger generation, who have grown up in a musical landscape where R&B and electronica have converged like never before.
In those formative years, Woods' musical journey began back in high school, where he would handle both beats and vocals from the classroom. "I was just going through a lot of emotional pressure, and the only way I could escape was writing in this little notepad that I have," he says. "I just used to sit in the back of class and write songs, and eventually that turned into making beats and teaching myself how to sing, putting it all together, to actually making a career out of it."
After self-releasing music and performing across town, it was one 2017 gig that proved to be crucial to Woods' career. Taking place at a humble pop-up store in Surry Hills, Woods sang to a handful of punters inside the intimate space, and Alexander Franco - known to many as DJ Captain Franco and one half of rambunctious rap party-starters Halfway Crooks - was impressed by the short footage he saw via friends’ Instagram stories. After a DM exchange and some real-life conversations, Franco eventually brought Woods under the management wing of Future Classic, the driving force behind Australian-gone-global electronic stars like Flume and Ta-ku. "It always seems to surprise me how these things happen," he laughs. "There was never really kind of a plan for it, but it eventually grew into a relationship where I joined the Future Classic team, and I'm happy to be a part of that team."
With so much attention at a relatively young age, Woods is still learning new things everyday as his music career kickstarts. "I've learnt to let go of a lot of tasks that I used to always want to do by myself, having people there for me that are able to share things makes it a lot easier," he says. "I'm still learning about how to cope with meeting deadlines and interacting with people, because I'm usually quite a big introvert, but I guess it's bringing me out of my shell." And despite his soft-spoken nature, he's succinct when it comes to his plans for the Jeida Woods project: "I want to release more singles and get started on my first project. I really want to play a lot of shows. That's where I see myself moving, the rest of this year and the start of next year."