GUM: lavish psych-pop borne from Jay Watson's experimental streak

We sit down with the Tame Impala collaborator. 

Born out of a desire to educate himself on the wonders of music production, GUM is the psych-pop solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson. Commonly known for his roles within Tame Impala and POND, Jay ensures he is constantly challenging himself with the learning journey that is GUM.

“I still think of it as mostly just an exercise to practice the producing side of things – I record most of it and mix it all myself,” Jay says of the project. 

“When I started I wasn’t very good at doing that side of things and it sounds bad, but the songs were more of an afterthought compared to trying to get good at using software and hardware to get good at the engineering, recording and mixing side of things.

“It was basically to teach myself, because you don’t want to sabotage other people’s records when you’re just learning how to mix things.”

2016’s Flash In The Pan is the third and most recent self-produced record from GUM, which followed 2014’s Delorean Highway and 2015’s Glamorous Damage. 2018 has brought with it fresh content from GUM though, who recently dropped two new singles and confirmed word of a new album set for release in the coming months.

“I think [the new album] sounds nicer. Again, that’s all I ever seem to be concerned about – I should probably put more time into the songwriting,” Watson laughs. “It’s also maybe a little bit more organic, there’s a little less electronic stuff on there – but it’s kind of all over the place.

“It’s probably the one [record] I’ve done where the songs all sound the most different to each other, so I think there’s something for everyone on there, but at the same time people probably won’t like every song.”

With new tunes locked and loaded, GUM is set to perform at this year’s By The Meadow festival. Taking place in early April, the boutique festival will return to the lush farmland of Bambra for its fifth year.

“I’ve never really played a festival on my own before, so I’ll probably be a bit nervous but it’ll be fun,” Watson says of his readiness to take on the challenge of his forthcoming solo performance.

To keep the nerves at bay and pass his spare time while touring, Watson has become quite the tennis pro and challenges anyone willing to a match.

“I’m not amazing at tennis, but I’ve got a huge serve,” he laughs before concluding he’s got an awful backhand, but a rocket-like serve.

“I haven’t played since I was a kid, but we’ve just started playing since we’ve been on tour and I must say, it’s mostly for the aerobic workout rather than the thrill of misery. I’ve got to offset the 12 Asahis I had yesterday.”

Whether it be on the court, in the pit, or via your chosen listening device, you’d best not miss your chance to get a taste of GUM.

GUM will play By The Meadow Festival in Bambra, Victoria taking place from Friday April 6 until Sunday April 8. The festival also features Fazerdaze, Tiny Little Houses, and Nadia Reid, among others.