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INTERVIEW: Dusty Wright

Hi Dusty, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’m working hard on letting people know about my music, fund raising for one of the videos from my new album, and working on tracks for potentially another record later this year, or early next, entitled Gliding Towards Oblivion.

Can you talk to us more about your latest album “Caterwauling Towards The Light”?

This album was literally a labor of love, an homage to the lives of my father Joseph and my younger brother and only sibling David who passed away this past summer. But it’s also an album of hope. Most of the tracks were recorded in New York with my bandmates in GIANTfingers and some other musician friends — here in New York, and in Los Angeles, and London. I spent about two years putting it together. In fact, I had enough tracks to release a double album.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write the song “Fly”?

 Several events actually. The song “Fly” was written after I hike up a mountain near Lake Placid, NY. The soaring optimism one feels after hiking or pushing themselves can be revelatory. Once I got back to New York City the song came together rather quickly, but then took a turn. In the days preceding its completion, I read about the tragic suicide of a young woman on the cover of a New York paper and it really hit me hard. The song suddenly had the duality of looking at life from different vantages — one filled with optimism and other filled with crippling pessimism. I quickly recorded a version. But it proved to be just the beginning. Soon after my younger brother was involved in a motorcycle accident and finally succumbed to his injuries seven weeks later. As you can imagine, that was a very depressing experience. I tweaked the lyrics slightly and rerecorded my vocals. I then enlisted the vocal talents of Queen Esther to add her soaring background vocals and the song was complete.

Any plans to release a music video off the record?

 Yes. I connected with the New York-based VR (virtual reality) director Stephanie Riggs and film producer Serena Belsby and decided to create a video for “Fly” to help dissolve the stigma of suicide and fight depression. The medium of VR can be an immersive, cathartic experience that places one in the minds and hearts of those suffering in a way never before possible. The video can help people empathize with that struggle, generate compassion, and allow the user to soar into hope. We are working closely with one of the leading suicide prevention experts in the country, Dr. Paul Quinnett. He is a clinical psychologist and the President and CEO of the QPR Institute (https:// www.qprinstitute.com), an educational organization dedicated to preventing suicide. You can check out our “Fly” project in more detail at our website — http:// www.SilenceIsNotGolden.nyc

What is the meaning behind the name of the record?

It is a very personal title. It truly reflects how I felt emotionally while I was assembling the songs. But in the grander scheme of things the title Caterwauling Towards The Light means make a lot of noise, to metaphorically “howl” as we head towards that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Do not go gently into the night; live life to the fullest, with passion and verve and in a way that inspires others around you. In that way, I feel that we all share that same passion for life. We may not verbalize it, but I believe it’s our will to be heard, even in small ways.

How was the recording and writing process?

The process was cathartic to say the least. Each song is a story, but in the end they told the greater story of two people from my family. How they lived their lives and how the interacted with me. Side one is about my brother’s life and side two is about my father’s life. The recording was truly a labor of love. Finding my voice for each song required me to examine their lives. Sometimes I found myself singing in a different voice, if that makes sense. I also like using my capo to change the key of a song. Try a key that might push me vocally. And in doing that it can help convey the pathos of the song.

How does your production background influence your music and the other way around?

I love producing music. The thrill of happy accidents during the recording process or allowing your fellow musicians to add their artistry to the process can be very rewarding and afford real magic to occur. I’m very eager to hear what other musicians create for a piece of music. My guitarist Jonathan K. Bendis will add lines that I might not consider. His playing style is much different than mine. Listen to “I Got Lost” — my guitar is much more rhythmic while Jon’s is visceral and angular. And cellist Matt Goeke has been on my last two solo albums and the lead instrument in my band GIANTfingers. Listen to Matt’s cello on the mournful Moby Grape (Peter Lewis) cover “I Am Not Willing.” The cello’s tone resonates like a human voice. It that way it becomes another voice in the song.

 Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

A celebration of life from my very myopic but somewhat personal look at how life truly affects all of us. Side one is dedicated to the memory of my brother and side two was written and assembled for my father. Instead of wallowing in my misery, I needed to emote by writing about their lives. But I believe that these are just the challenges all of us must face at various points in our existence. This album is a reflection of my life over these past two years; all the ethos and pathos. The cycle of life is quite profound and I hope this album conveys all of the emotions I was feeling while I wrote and recorded these songs. “How Do You Measure A Man?” reflects tells the story of my father through the eyes of my brother and I, but it could be any one looking back on the life of a parent. “I Got Lost” was about my father’s battle with dementia, but could be about anyone who has dealt with this medical condition. “Life Is Hard,” co-written by follow New York singer/songwriter Martin John Butler, chronicles my brother’s zest for life, but the chorus vocal hook — “Life gets harder when you’re half way there” — could be about anyone battling their own demons or challenges.

Any plans to hit the road?

We have already performed a few local New York area shows around the release of the album, but hopefully we latch on to a bigger Americana act that is touring and join them on that tour. I’ve also reached out to my original djembe/percussionist Yael Shacham who recently moved back to New York. She’s joining us for her first show with GIANTfingers in ten years on March 29th at the Parkside Lounge (http:// www.parksidelounge.net ) in New York. It’s the original outfit with me, cellist Matt Goeke, and bassist Anton Oppenheimer. Rounding out the group is lead guitarist Jonathan K. Bendis. This is the band I really want to take on the road. Very intuitive players. And they really make my songs come to life.

What else is happening next in Dusty Wright’s world?

I will continue to write, record and perform. I also dig curating music — creating/coproducing gigs with like-minded performers and artists. And I’ve been bitten by the VR bug, so I really want to explore that medium more. I believe VR music videos will be the next way to experience music, both live and in the studio, and conceptually impact social issues, like with our video for “Fly.” I’ve been pitching a larger VR music concept with my production partner Anthony Flores. We are optimistic to get that going at some point this year.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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