DC students Jaylan Hayles and Geoffrey Olara met in 2010 at Maxwell Heights High School in Oshawa, and have been best friends ever since. They not only have similar goals in life, but they are the creators of GiGLife, an online community that specializes in motivation for youth.
The duo, both 23, started 2018 releasing an independently-crafted motivational album Jan. 1 called “Where To Now?” made up of 13 conversation tunes they hope will enrich everyone who listens to it.
The pair spent three months writing scripts and two months recording and editing, the five-week long Ontario college faculty strike allowing them extra time to produce the album. It has been released to the public via Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and Instagram at the start of this year. Their Facebook page has more than 20,000 likes and the announcement of their album release drew more than 16,000 likes in just a few days.
This album includes the stories of their troubled times, aimed toward people struggling against similar setbacks; uncertainty and fear of life, the feeling that your dreams will never be met, and how loving your friends, loving yourself and loving the world is a real irreplaceable gift.
Their inspiration to release an album comes from a time of confusion in Hayles’ life.
“I decided to really dissect myself and write about things I’ve faced in my life and things I’m going through, so it was like, I was writing myself to understand, but also through a sad time of confusion. I wasn’t sad or depressed as a person, but confusion, writing myself into a good mindset. So for this album, my mind, my soul’s on it,” said Hayles.
In the album, Hayles tells the stories of setbacks he had as a youth. Reading was very difficult for him. In public and high school, his report cards didn’t show anything higher than a 60. His father said his report card reminded him of the ‘C’ section of the dictionary, and Hayles said he believed most of the other students were ahead of him. Then one day he made a pledge to read 50 pages a day – and stuck by it. He chose The Bible, as a challenge to read better. It worked. He got a GPA of 4.0 and was getting perfect scores on a majority of his tests.
The album also explores two of Hayles’ worst memories, which deal with death and near-death experiences, one with a stranger and the other with a friend.
One of the album’s pieces recounts the story of Hayles while on a walk in British Columbia. On July 18, 2017, he came across a stranger, a teenaged boy, crying by himself in the park. Hayles walked up and asked what was wrong. The boy yelled at him in tears to go away and Hayles refused. It turns out, according to Hayles, the boy was going to commit suicide by hanging himself because he felt no one cared about him. Hayles said he walked up, sat down with him and said he cared about him despite just meeting him. Hayles said he convinced the teen to put away the rope and he walked the youth home.
Another piece tells the story of one of Hayles’ best friends, Andre Hamilton, 25, who killed himself on Jan. 7, 2016, by jumping in front of a VIA rail train. That day, Hayles was on a flight to Alberta and learned through a media report about a man being killed by a train in Toronto. The pair had spent time together four days earlier, Hayles said.
“Andre was a pure person who really just wanted to help a lot of people. Andre was the type of guy where he loved making jokes, and I started to grow closer to him I realized that he helped me get tough-skinned,” said Hayles. “It was about, ‘We’re a team, we make jokes, we laugh, we fight, we come back together’, and it was always about this love. Andre was love.”
Hayles said he cried for months after his death, heartbroken and unable to figure out how to cope with the loss.
Shortly after the album was released, the pair decided they are going to release three more albums in the future. Where To Now? has Hayles narrating most of the album, where Olara’s main job was editing and making sure ideas stayed concise and proper. The next album is going to have Olara as the narrator, the duo said. The third one is planned to include Hayles breaking down stereotypes while discussing race, homosexuality, religion, segregation and other topics. They also plan to make a hip-hop album.