On April 20th, nearly two years after the release of his first full-length LP, bedroom pop darling Jordan Heaney launched his second album I Ur Boy as his alter ego, Yung Heazy. The project, a ten-song follow up to 2018’s Whenever You’re Around I Hate Everything Less, is the second under the Heazy moniker and the first under Heaney’s new record label Unbelievably Spectacular Records, a collaboration with Youtube curator Alona Chemerys and artist manager Tristan Orchard. Sidedoor caught up with Yung Heazy about the West Coast music scene, self-production, and I Ur Boy from his native Vancouver following his sophomore release.
Whenever You’re Around I Hate Everything Less was a tapestry of lo-fi production, dreamy psychedelia, and the musings, from sarcastic to sappy, of a man in love. I Ur Boy takes those same themes and inverts them.
“These songs started in the same vein as the first album,” says Heaney. “Happy love songs. They were written with that theme in mind. But I went through this breakup, so I had to switch my subject matter from being very in love with this person to being about ‘how do I deal with what feels like my universe crumbling in on itself?’ It’s still a concept album, but like the mirrored image of the first album.”
I Ur Boy picks up where Whenever You’re Around I Hate Everything Less leaves off — a little more polished, a little more ambitious, but fundamentally, it has the same laid back quality that has become Yung Heazy’s signature sound. Heaney calls the songs “happy go lucky,” but he admits there’s a little more melancholy in the lyrics, even if they’re draped in the same sunny, surfy guitar.
The anti-establishment flair that makes the Heazy projects so unique is alive and well in this second take. It’s something that Heaney has learned from the best — the likes of John Frusciante, Julian Casablancas, and Thom Yorke, a trio he calls his “trifecta” of musical influences.
“I just find everything those three put out, it always has either a twist or something I find interesting or smart, and pushes music forward in some way. I really like that,” he says. “I always try to approach songwriting as a puzzle. Something like, ‘okay, I have all these pieces I want to throw together,’ and I feel like there’s something similar between all those guys, especially like their later work, that achieves that.”
On I Ur Boy, that spirit is perhaps best embodied by the album’s penultimate title, “A Genuine Attempt at Not Being a Dick.” Heaney had a hard time pinning down a favourite song, but tentatively offered up this track, a genre-bending, introspective journey through Heaney’s post-breakup psyche.
Radical self-direction is as much a part of the art as it is the artist. The grandeur of “A Genuine Attempt at Not Being a Dick,” complete with Beatle-esque horns and orchestral crescendos, showcases Heaney’s growth as a producer. Like his last album, I Ur Boy is performed and recorded by Heaney himself — an impressive feat, and, according to Heaney, a taxing one. Producing his own music, he says, is a product of necessity.
“It was very much out of necessity and it’s not even something I really enjoy to be honest,” he admits. “I find producing so difficult. It’s nothing like songwriting, songwriting is like a vacation, where production is like a chore.”
Heaney had tinkered with production on programs like GarageBand since his early adolescence, but it wasn’t until later that, frustrated with the results he’d gotten from low budget producers, he’d tried his hand at anything more serious. Serious being used loosely, of course. It’s hard to believe that “Cuz You’re My Girl” — the single that catapulted Heaney’s Yung Heazy persona into online notability, amassing nearly 4.5 million streams — was a joke, but that’s the truth.
He says his sudden success did drive him to create more sophisticated work, and he hopes to build confidence in his production. I Ur Boy is the product of a more focused, intentional approach to production; and new equipment.
“I didn’t know what a producer was for a long time. I thought a producer was the same thing as a guy who’s mixing and mastering and all that, which they can be. But the process for I Ur Boy was that I produced it, as in, I recorded everything, I set where I wanted all the levels, all the panning. And then I sent it over to this other guy who’s a producer who mixed the album. What mixing is, for those who may not know, is taking the song and making it come alive, I guess you could say. Tweaking levels, adding EQ and compression. Making it all sparkly and twinkly.”
While it may not be his favorite part of the creative process, Heaney says he’s dedicated to improvement.
“I really do want to find myself one day where I can just sit down at a computer and be really confident with everything I’m doing and be like, ‘yeah, this is this is it!’”
Heaney describes his native Vancouver as a boiling pot for up-and-coming talent. Spending his formative years in the small venues of the city’s thriving all-ages scene, he says, helped open his eyes to genres he wasn’t sure even still existed. Winona Forever, Peach Pit, bbno$ — he lists off some of today’s most prominent Vancouverite headliners. He makes a convincing case that there’s something in the water.
“I’m biased, you know, I live here. But I think the bands coming out of Vancouver are amazing. I think there’s a lot of creativity in this city. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to be creative in this city.”
Heaney’s has been a modern path, and it emphasizes just how arbitrary the industry remains.
“I think it’s definitely easier to create music now, which I think is excellent,” he says. “Just about anyone can pick up a cheap recording device and layer themselves 1000 times and then have a hit song, apparently. I think that’s really cool. It’s definitely changed where our rock stars are coming from. They’re coming from the bedroom, now. Instead of from like this manufactured area.”
With his unshakeable cool — even in the face of agonizing heartbreak — and his DIY sound, Yung Heazy is the modern rock star’s archetype. Check out his second album, I Ur Boy, available on all streaming services, and his quirky new music video for single “We Wuz Won,” out now.