Over the past decade, JoJo Worthington has emerged as a distinctive presence in creative Canadian music, pairing deftly penned songs with spectacular sonic landscapes. Having wandered through the “lost, enchanted forest” (Bandcamp, New & Noteworthy) of 2016’s breakthrough album, \\, and sailed the seas of her epic avant-pop odyssey TCYK, BAPTIZED I sees this visionary songcrafter adorning her armour, grabbing her sword, and beginning a quest towards the divine.
The thunderous song, “Win Butler,” is a cacophony of feelings. It’s about the juxtaposition of wanting to succeed in the music industry and make art, while there are adverse and tragic events happening everyday, all around JoJo. Over the pandemic, it felt like the last thing anyone needed was more music.
When JoJo was in high school, she loved Arcade Fire (and still does), and she romanticized moving to Montreal to make amazing music. When she did finally move there, she was living downtown, and was heartbroken by the housing crisis and how many people were living on the streets here. Pursuing her dreams seemed like an incredibly selfish and insignificant thing to do, while people outside her apartment were just trying to get their basic needs met. The lyrics are inspired by some of the conversations she’s had with those people, and the conflict she felt as she pursues a career in music in this broken world.
The song ends with the sound of a tape being stretched, stomped, and ripped apart, to emulate producer Will Crann’s idea of the sound of God picking up the song and crumpling it up.
“The song is not really about Win Butler personally. I have nothing against him whatsoever,” says JoJo. “I honestly really hope he listens to it. I just wanted to call the song that because of my love for Arcade Fire’s music and how much it impacted me growing up. I wanted to move to Montreal, be in a 10 piece stadium art rock band and live the dream.”
BAPTIZED I finds JoJo making sense of her surroundings by looking inwards and going deep. On one hand, this means looking back and reconsidering formative memories and intimate relationships; on the other, it means looking critically at the present: seeing the local outcomes of ubiquitous housing crises, systemic racism, and mass misinformation. Through unprecedented vulnerable songs, Worthington works to make sense of what has happened, find spiritual purpose, and strive towards wisdom.