Indigenous, Queer, a radiant champion for redemption and reclamation—Jayli Wolf has arrived with her debut solo EP Wild Whisper. Accompanying the 6-track EP is the official video for new single “Would You Die?” which premiered via NYLON.
Across 6 brilliant tracks, the alt-pop artist details her experience leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion she was raised in; discovering her truth; issues concerning mental health, sexual abuse, and high-control groups; and concludes by looking forward through self-love, acceptance, and the celebration of life. The collection—independently released by the activist, actress, filmmaker, and singer-songwriter-producer—has been heralded by the likes of MTV, NYLON, Ones To Watch, them, Rolling Stone, Under The Radar, Vogue, and more to come. The project has also been featured on several playlists including Spotify’s New Music Friday, Indigenous, Misfits 2.0, and SALT, plus Apple Music’s New Music Daily, Breaking Alternative, INDIY, and many others to date.
Speaking on the EP, Jayli Wolf says, “Wild Whisper is an autobiographical EP that features my father’s experience in the Sixties Scoop, leaving the doomsday cult I was raised in, releasing the shame and guilt instilled in me around my bisexuality, depression and mental health, post-traumatic growth, and reclaiming my Indigenous heritage.”
“I wrote ‘Would You Die?’ after feeling true unconditional love for the first time; after that, I learned that conditions and boundaries are very different. I used to be so fearful of love, of the power I thought another soul could have over me. My definition of love used to be more of a tragedy than anything else. As if I would have to die for it. As if love could swallow me whole. Now I understand, it’s not love that breaks a heart, it is the conditions I used to put on love,” Jayli Wolf elaborates, “The music video is a visual representation of me learning this lesson. Taking off my armor and bearing everything. Following an idea of love through dangerous places, and ultimately being completely swallowed up by it. When I wake up at the end, I realize that I put myself there in that darkness. I buried who I truly was to be loved in return. This song is about finding self love. Realizing that “the stars were never mine.” That I could let go, that no one belonged to me. That true love is freedom. Freedom from conditions.”
Jayli Wolf is an Anishinaabe / Cree artist and creative based out of Toronto, Canada. She is a doomsday cult survivor and works to be a role model in her community—speaking to Indigenous youth about the entertainment industry and inspiring them to follow their dreams. Together with her partner and collaborator Hayden Wolf, she started creating music, producing, and directing films as Once A Tree. Their releases and self-directed visuals have since resulted in praise from Billboard, CBC, Clash, Complex, Exclaim!, HYPEBEAST, PEOPLE, MTV, NYLON, Rolling Stone, The FADER, Vice’s Noisey, among others.
In March, “Child Of The Government” arrived alongside a chilling short film that was written, directed, and produced by Jayli Wolf herself. The short film later won ‘Best Music Video’ at Venice Shorts of California (an IMDb qualifying monthly and annual festival). Upon release, the single took Canadian radio by storm and Jayli landed on the cover of Spotify’s Indigenous playlist which was spotlighted on their Yonge and Dundas Square billboard (equivalent to Spotify’s billboard in New York City’s Times Square). The debut offering from Jayli Wolf exhibits her family’s experience during the Sixties Scoop, where the Canadian Government and Catholic Church were responsible for taking or “scooping” more than 20,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children from their families and communities in the 1950s through the ‘90s. The children were placed in foster homes or adopted (with accounts of children even being sold) into non-Indigenous families across Canada, the United States, and beyond. Along with the loss of cultural identity, the government went so far as to change some children’s true ethnicity on file. Many experienced severe sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Jayli Wolf’s father was one of these children.
Sophomore single “Hush” opened another gateway for post-traumatic growth and enlightenment. With stirring poetic vocals over lush electrified sonics, the three-and-a-half minute song is amplified by an alluring visual in which a liberated Jayli Wolf takes full ownership of her sensuality and unfettered bisexual orientation. The track unpacks the multi-hyphenate act’s earliest memories of passion and self-discovery, ultimately plunged by her mother’s family members (devoted Jehovah’s Witnesses). “I felt immense shame around the truth and who I am. My first true love with another girl (a fellow cult member) was filled with guilt and shame. We would pray together for forgiveness over the desires that we had every day. I believed Jehovah would destroy me in Armageddon,” Jayli Wolf explains, “Being free now, my deprogramming has also allowed me to question the societal conditioning around relationships and sexual orientation. I hope this song brings people feelings of power and freedom in their own personal explorations.” Like many in the LGBTQIA+ community, coming out and coming to terms with her sexuality was a long, often guilt-ridden process—one that was exponentially difficult in a high-control religious group. While this is her story by her definition, “Hush” serves as an ode for all seeking to advocate their queerness and find power in their truth.
Other tracks unlocked with the EP include “Bleed Like Us,” inviting listeners to see through the lens of Jayli Wolf’s childhood which was filled with stories about the end of the world, death, and destruction of “non-believers.” She explains, “This song is about waking up from the lifetime of mental conditioning imposed on me, the painful exodus of being shunned by family and community, and facing my own mental and spiritual Armageddon.” Closers in this body of work include “Hell” and “Ride,” an intimate juxtaposition of Jayli’s mental anguish and desire for the answers beyond our human perspective. On “Hell” she admits, “I was surrendering to my depression when I wrote this song” while on the final track Jayli writes a plea from the perspective of Mother Earth, stating, “She is abundant and nurturing, but humanity has taken this for granted. Greed, corruption, and ignorance is poisoning her. We have become so disconnected. It is our responsibility to live as one with her and care for her as she has given us life.”
By sharing these vital messages of justice and rebirth, Jayli Wolf authentically connects with her community by way of her music and social media, including her viral TikTok video that has reached over half a million viewers and received countless comments from people whose Indigenous family members have had similar experiences.
“I finally have the courage to use my voice to tell these stories. I hope this project will be able to shed light on and raise awareness of these subject matters,” Jayli Wolf notes, “We can forgive for our own healing. The road ahead is long, and change takes time.”