Jayda: Play Your Hand
“Nepo baby” was ingrained in our vocabulary in 2022, thanks in particular to an explosive cover story by New York Magazine in December, which led us spiraling into the blackhole of the “nepo-verse.” Simply put, these are “children of famous people” we just love/hate to obsess over. This is nothing new, especially in the Philippines where celebrities are akin to gods. We worship them and think of them as infallible, to a point wherein we demand perfection from them when they are—surprise!—human.
Singer-songwriter Jayda is well aware of her status as a nepo baby; she knows this is the hand she was dealt. In fact, she steered the conversation towards it. A child of OPM legends Jessa Zaragoza and Dingdong Avanzado, she is the first to point out her privilege. But this isn’t a cop-out from enduring her “own set of struggles” that comes with her background. She tells Wonder, “I feel like the way I would describe it is: it's definitely put me on the map, and it’s where I’ve begun. It’s part of my history, but it’s not gonna be all that defines me.”
During our sit down with the 20-year-old performer, we quickly realized that she is a young woman beyond her years. And she can sing; the talent is definitely there.
At first, you are drawn to her from the surface—her porcelain skin and doll-like features. But then you’re introduced to a person with a steadfast understanding of herself. So one thing’s for sure: Jayda is, first and foremost, her own biggest advocate.
Thus far into 2023, and Jayda is slowly easing into the whirlwind of young adulthood and taking control of her career. The 20-year-old stands at the crossroads of two new endeavors. After finishing her successful acting debut as Zoe in Teen Clash, Jayda’s well into preparations for her new beginnings with Republic Records Philippines. “I feel like my personal goals and vision for myself, as an artist at this particular point in my career, have really aligned with their overall general goals,” Jayda shares. “What I appreciate about them is that they're very pro-artist in the sense that they understand that each has their own individual journey, and they're all for that.”
Her move to Republic Records Philippines is another milestone to add to her list of accomplishments. It stands up there with opening for Niall Horan’s Flicker Tour in 2018 when she was only 15 years old (something that hits home for the little Directioner who loved him at 11) and holding an online concert with a setlist filled with self-penned songs. Jayda insists that performing has always been a passion of hers.
“I've been very grateful and I feel very thankful and privileged to have been given these opportunities [where I can] express myself through my craft,” she expresses. “And to be able to do what I love for a living.”
One look at Jayda’s Spotify page suggests she’s had time to flex her songwriting muscle, flush with pop bops and emotive ballads written from the heart. While she has put herself in other people’s shoes to write songs sung by others, Jayda’s upcoming releases stem from her personal experiences in life and love. “I've kind of realized that it's okay, not everyone gets it,” she laments. “As long as you know there are the people who do [get it], and that you know what you're standing for, what you're writing about, and what you're putting out into the world and that there's nothing wrong with what you're doing, then I'm all for that.”
Her current discography may already give us a peek into her narrative lyricism (something she somewhat picked up from Taylor Swift), but the rest of the world will discover a new side to Jayda very soon.
“I feel like these next couple of songs that I'm going to release have been songs that I've written in the past two years of my life,” she divulges. “[The songs] really marked these chapters of somebody who's coming of age, someone in her mid-teenagehood going into young adulthood.”
Sound-wise, Jayda looks to expand her pop horizons while keeping it true to her own flavor. If anything, she embraces the possibility of being genre-less. “I don't necessarily box myself in that aspect,” explains Jayda. She points to Ed Sheeran’s Divide era as an example, where Shape Of You and Perfect exist under one record, both sonically different but still inherently his. Jayda hopes that through her music, “you'll see myself as how I'd like to present myself as: a multifaceted artist.”
The hats she’s worn aren’t limited in the realm of songwriting and music production. The young artist shares that she’s always been hands-on with her art, down to what she wants out of her own music videos. “I really do have such a clear vision of what I want in my head, and I feel like that's always how I've been,” she explains. “It's just that, right now, at this current stage of my life and having just turned 20, I feel like I've got a better understanding of who I am as an artist and who I want to be.”
It’s no secret that this coming of age involves a lot of pushing and pulling. People often refer to it as our prime, our peak, a time when everyone’s free to make as many mistakes as they can. On the other side of the coin, others call 20-year-olds “too young,” not giving their maturity enough credit when it is due. To discern that the time is ripe, Jayda begs the question: “If I feel like I'm too much in my comfort zone, how will I grow?”
“If you're feeling too comfortable, maybe that's the time that you seek out something different,” she suggests. “And once that opportunity comes along, I think it's really important to grab it.”
Being the daughter of OPM icons means that most of the time, Jayda doesn’t get a clean slate when she meets people. But there are a lot of advantages that come with it: first and foremost, the impressive work ethic she developed very early on in her career. Jayda notes one of the biggest lessons she’s learned from her parents: “Surround yourself with the right people. The people around you…shouldn't dictate where you go, but a lot of times, it does shape where your head's at.”
Jayda also believes in treating everyone she meets with respect. “No matter who they are, no matter if [they’re] a camera crew person or an executive or a veteran artista, just show that same level of respect—and you can never go wrong with that.”
Having just entered her 20s and navigating through big changes like moving to a new record label and producing new music, Jayda is slowly but surely growing into herself. She admits that her generation has a unique set of advantages (see: social media and technology) that previous generations didn’t have, but that being part of Gen Z doesn’t necessarily steer her decisions. At the end of the day, she is her own person.
Jayda saw the opportunity to share her truth and express herself to an audience, and she grabbed it and will never let go. Privilege and “luck” may have played great roles in Jayda’s journey toward stardom, but life isn’t determined by the cards you were dealt. It’s about how you play your hand.
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Photography Jerick Sanchez assisted by Marcus Flores and Daniel Garrido
Art Alexandra Lara
Fashion Direction Kai Franco
Beauty Direction Elisa Aquino
Makeup Gery Penaso
Hair Sean Nadera
Location Bulb Studios
Special Thanks Republic Records Philippines and UMG Philippines Inc.