Jeida Woods grew up on late ’90s and early 2000s R&B and hip hop. Rihanna, Mario, Usher, Omarion. Ja Rule, Blackstreet, TLC and Montell Jordan. Occasionally even DMX.
“These were all artists my aunties used to play around the house all the time,” Woods tells us. “Their impact was profound in the way I started creating music when I was in high school.”
You can hear these influences still. Press play on the artist’s moody, broody 2020 EP Hive and you’ll hear remnants of all your favourite heartbreak ballads of yesteryear (Mario’s “Let Me Love You” and Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” among them). But there’s a newness in this artist and his music that offers more than just referential throwbacks. Woods is making modern R&B that genre historians and casual listeners alike are loving, and he’s making it look effortless. His secret? He writes for himself, and just hopes that the audience can relate.
Get to know the Sydney-based artist and see him ice skate (did we mention he’s also a pro ice-skater?) while wearing Gucci in the shoot above.
Where do you live now and where do you consider home?
I currently live in Sydney, Australia, which is where I would call home. Growing up I spent a lot of time moving between Zambia and Michigan with my aunties and uncles as my mother sacrificed a lot just to bring me to Australia, and when the time was right, I took flight. And I am sincerely grateful for all parts of the journey.
How do you think your upbringing helped to shape your worldview?
I believe that my upbringing is what made me who I am today and how I do everything in my life. My family has always been open to letting anyone chase their dreams as long as they are respectful to others while also maintaining a strict traditional ethical approach to family values, such as never letting others in your family suffer if you can help in any way.
If you could only listen to one genre of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Although R&B has always been my favourite, I don’t think I could live without hip hop. It’s so versatile and can bring so many emotions and even when you think you know what a song is going to be about, the delivery is always different and new.
What’s your creative process like?
I love to write songs usually after something emotional in my life has happened. I’ll go through periods where writing doesn’t feel right, and I’ve told myself that’s okay. But when I’m in that emotional writing state the first thing I’ll do is make or play the type of beat I’m feeling and just hum how I feel. Once I have the hum I can tell the direction of where I want the song to be going. And then the words just start to flow one after another.
What subjects or themes do you find yourself returning to in your music, and why do you think this is?
Love, sex and passion of dreams. I find that I’m quite an emotional person that sometimes depends on the love and touch from another to get by, although at the same time. I want to find who I truly am and sometimes love can get in the way of that, so most of my songs describe a mental turmoil between broken down relationships where sacrifice and selfishness come into play.
When do you feel most ’you’?
When I’m with my friends, or when I’m around water or rain.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
People will only ever show their results and their best self and will never show the pain or struggle they have to go through, so I now know to remember that whenever i feel like i’m getting nowhere that i’m not alone and at some point if i keep trying I will achieve what i want to.
What’s the coolest or most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?
It takes exactly 90 days to develop a positive habit, so for someone to properly complete their New Years resolution they’d have to start practicing in October.
In your opinion, who is the most important voice of our generation?
It would 100 per cent have to be the youth. A lot of things have changed for the better because of them and although mistakes are still made, the ideals of peace grow closer and closer as they push the envelope on how society can change for the better.
What books are you reading at the moment?
Finance and Investment books because the world doesn’t teach kids enough about how to be financially literate. But also manga. Right now I love this manga/anime book called Shingeki No Kyojin (in English: Attack on Titan).
I don’t have a favourite song because I think there are too many great artists to pick.
Are there any social or cultural shifts you hope will happen in the next 10 years?
I just want people to not be judged a specific way because of where they are from, or for things they cannot change.