Rocker Jay Wud dials it down in evocative new EP

The Lebanese artist’s latest electronic music release is pulsating and dystopian

Jay Wud's credits daily excercise for keeping him mentally and physically healthy during the first six months of Covid-19. Jay Wud
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When Jay Wud plugs in, what normally comes out is a thunderous sound.

But for his latest project, the Dubai rocker replaced guitars and amps for computers and synthesisers.

His new EP Nabad is a complete left turn for the Lebanese artist, who with his namesake band, is renowned for two albums of driving rock and supporting the likes of Metallica, Gun N' Roses and Motley Crue at their respective UAE shows.

Ironically, Wud's move to electronica was inspired by the recording process of his band's previous effort, 2017's super heavy Transitions.

Spending time in a Los Angeles studio with Grammy award nominated producer Howard Benson (who has worked with Santana, My Chemical Romance and Three Day's Grace), Wud recalls being inspired by his dedication to the painstaking craft of creating evocative sonic landscapes. Like songwriting, it was through Benson he learnt that sound production has its own language and principles.

“I was there with him in different times over a space of three years and just to spend that time with an A-class producer and his team got me really interested in the possibility of sound production,” he says.

“I have been working in the region for a long time and I have never seen such professionalism from that side of the music business. It made me hungry to learn more about it.”

That interest turned into a new creative passion once Wud partnered with Lebanese experimental jazz man Elie Afif, who turned him on to synthesiser and beat-making software.

Wud took to it like a kid with shiny new toys.

“It opened a different world for me with endless musical possibilities,” he says. “Normally, when I do things I am super focused about it and it was the same with this. I became obsessed by it and I was making new beats every day.”

From more than 50 pieces produced, four were chosen to form Nabad. Translated to 'Pulse', the near-10-minute collection lives up to its name. It is a vigorous set of electronic tracks, ranging from ambient to dark wave, featuring spiralling synth lines and frenetic beats.

That air of urgency is also heightened by a pair of strong appearances by Lebanese rapper El Rass, whose socially conscious wordplay is found on the highlights Min Wein and Omran.

Those pining for Wud's older sound should enjoy the chugging riffs that underscore the dystopian vibes of Aymata.

Wud considers Nabad as an exciting new chapter in his career. Instead of pummelling listeners with riffs, he is now deriving thrills from discovering new depth and subtleties to specific sounds.

Jay Wud produced 'Nabad' in his home studio in Dubai. Jay Wud
Jay Wud produced 'Nabad' in his home studio in Dubai. Jay Wud

Reaching that level required him to learn a new way of listening to music.

“Hearing it as a fan and producer are two very different things,” he says. “For one thing, it is a more critical listening session and there is a lot of technical stuff to it. But before all of that, what I am looking for is the emotion of the track. That is critical to any song, it has to be driven by some sense of emotion.”

It has been a lesson Wud has been sharing in his burgeoning career as a producer. His production credits include last year's 9MM by Tunisian rapper Samara, which garnered more than nine million views on YouTube and Quietly, the soon to be released single by Lebanese pop singer Anthony Touma.

With plenty of his own solo material left in store, Wud aims to follow up Nabad with a quarantine inspired electronic album.

While he is yet to define the sound he is looking for with the future project, Wud promises it will be a true reflection of how he is feeling at present.

After all, it was a key piece of advice Benson gave him: "He said that once I do a record it becomes a part of history," he says. "You have to look at it like it is a picture of you in a particular time. That way you learn to accept it for what it is and you don't judge it and say you should have done things differently. I just love that, because it sounds simple and it makes absolute sense."