WPGM Commentary: Tyra Jutai Explores Grace Amidst The Chaos On Her New EP ‘Carnival’

Hi, I’m Tyra and Carnival is my sophomore EP where I explore the sideshow variety of repertoire that I have been building and writing, mostly over the last two years.

I had been releasing singles and other works of art over the last little while, but I felt the need to put out a more complete body of work, since my fist EP No Angel.

In No Angel, I used sound clips from the 1933 movie I’m No Angel about my namesake, a carnival lion tamer named Tira (Mae West), which is the same pronunciation as my name – Tyra. Carnival, my second EP, in a way is an evolution and continuation of the theme of the first EP (ie. I’m a fairground baby).

I listened to the songs I had been working on with my producer, Kyu, and found that we had really been experimenting with many styles and sounds (from reggaeton to amapiano, latin and afrobeat rhythms, siren voicings, and foley sounds used as percussive elements), but this common thread of “carnival” and “fairground” sounds kept speaking to me.

I was trying to sleep one night, and kept seeing the word “carnal” within the word “carnival” and immediately woke up and went to draft the artwork for the project. The sounds on Carnival are both diverse and odd, like carnival sideshows, but also express a sexiness, a thing of earthly and carnal desires, in their beat, in their melodies, and in the provocation of my lyricism.

This project is about the hedonism of the human realm of earthly delights, which I feel is best represented at the carnival, where there is an outward expression of this chaos in the scenescape of the fairground, the hallway of mirrors, the funhouse, and hidden in the sideshow tents.

I love to explore the theme of grace amidst chaos – I call myself the Dionysian Princess, after the Greek god Dionysus – god of ritual, ecstasy, harvest, madness, chaos, wine… the “party god”. These are themes I visit both sonically and in the lyrics of Carnival, and across my broader body of work.

When my producer and I worked on “Not Right Now” – the first single I released off the EP – I was really inspired by the hypnotic and repetitive sounds of carousels and wanted to infuse that with a reggaeton style, as I had been listening to a lot of latin artists (Rosalia, J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Tainy production) at the time and we thought “hey, let’s make a reggaeton song”.

When we worked on “Springtimes”, we wanted to create a song that would sound like the theme to a children’s show or a nursery rhyme, and we used percussive and melodic elements to create that feeling. We also added a run at the start of the song that’s an homage to Donny Hathaway. This was actually one of the first songs I’d ever written and performed live acoustically for years, but the production gave it a whole new bouncy feeling.

Writing “Making Love” in the depths of Canadian winter was an exercise in total fantasy – closing your eyes and escaping to the beach, I thought of leaving Coney Island fairgrounds, covered in pigeons, and somehow being transported to the Amalfi coast, where the pigeons become doves, if only I wished hard enough.

On “Crop Rotation”, we again used the hypnotic carousel sounds, pompous tubas, and rubber duckies to create the cacophony of sounds you hear in the beat, while the lyrics talk about the yearning for eternal love that’s trapped in the earthly realm of carnal desires, in the inevitability of the seasons and of harvest.

Those are just a few examples of how I used the theme “Carnival” to encompass the ten songs on the project, but I feel like I’m at the carnival on every track and when I listen through. I hope my listeners have the same experience as they do at a real life carnival – where there’s something for everyone, and they all go home happy.

In the weeks following its release, I will be also releasing visuals and stories track by track – each week will focus on a particular track on the project, and I’ll go in order for all ten songs. I’m a very visual artist and visual storyteller through my music, and use this as a tool to breathe more life into the songs I’ve created.

I will be telling the story of each song through video, storytelling, and explorations of the creation process behind the songs. This will live on my website, www.tyrajutai.com, and my social media, where I will share videos, photos and other clips.

Listen to my Carnival EP below!

Words by Tyra Jutai // Follow her on Twitter + Instagram

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