Usually when the word “duo” is used in the realm of music, it rarely speaks to the relationship between two artists. Yet the term aptly describes the genuine union between the husband and wife couplet and Toronto-based electro-R&B outfit Once A Tree, and their music process. “I remember the first song we ever wrote was ‘Light Me Up,'” says one half of the duo and singer, Jayli Wolf. “He [producer Hayden Wolf] made this really cool beat, but was struggling with the lyrics and was saying ‘I can’t come up with something for this.’ Then I listened to it and I was like ‘Ooh I can.’ It’s just this organic process the we both loved and wanted to continue.” By the same token, it’s this same “organic process” that allowed the two to connect in their shared hometown of British Columbia.
Separated by over 200 miles—Jayli was born and raised in Creston, B.C. while Hayden lived essentially on the opposite end in Vernon, B.C—the two have almost identical upbringings. Both were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, a practice of which they no longer identify with, and were exposed to a wide influence of artist before making their own art as teenagers. Jayli would start writing her own music on the guitar and soaking up the sounds of Johnny Cash and Elvis while Hayden became more and more interested with the sonic threads of Conor Oberst. Eventually, Jayli would leave university to pursue music full time, doing television spots and releasing loosies in the form of singles like “I Can’t Remember.” In the midst of building herself as an artist, it would be a toque that caught her fancy and led her to Hayden. “Back in the day he used to make these toques, and I saw this girl and I asked her where she got it from, and she told me it was this guy named Hayden,” says Jayli. Hayden, who at the time was working in a longboard factory and did photography, would then receive a Facebook message from her and after realizing they had a shared interest in music he would take the bus to work on a song. “I was like, if you can give me a place to crash I’ll come and make music with you. After helping her with a shoot and doing some visuals for her I ended up staying three weeks,” Hayden explains. “We had such similar upbringings and a love for music that everything just jived.” In late 2012, the two would get married, pairing together to start on a new project (Read More).