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INTERVIEW: Athens, GA Indie-rock Project Wanderwild

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

Hey, thanks! Doing great. Good to e-meet you!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Evergreens”?

“Evergreens” is one of my favorites from the EP. The goal was to be dynamic and vulnerable in both the songwriting and the production. It might be even more that way when we play it live.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Some songs are about specific events, while others are about general themes… “Evergreens” falls more into the latter category. It’s about a few things, but is mostly unpacking the relationship between cynicism and optimism and existential uncertainty. Sounds more dramatic than it maybe needs to be, but ultimately, the song arrives at a hopeful place. “I want to learn beyond the sprawl, from evergreens so old and tall” — the world is far bigger and far more complex than my personal challenges. It’s all going to be okay.

How was the film experience?

Filming was absolutely incredible. I flew out to Washington state with my friends Gabe Cuomo and Sean Bradley last March. We didn’t do a whole lot of pre-production, as we knew the scenery would inspire us and dictate the video’s direction. It was hard not to point the camera at nearly everything we were surrounded by. Most of the shooting took place outside of a tiny town called Mazama, WA in the North Cascades, where Gabe has family. The rest of the footage was filmed on our drive back to Seattle.

The single comes off your new album Fleeting – what’s the story behind the title?

Fleeting encapsulated one of the main ideas I was wrestling with while making the EP. This blurb is pulled directly from my website — “The EP is is called Fleeting, which speaks to the nature of the human experience, the creative process, and the present moment. In our finer moments, this transience can be used to inspire joy and creativity, rather than regression and chaos. That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.”

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was diverse. Fleeting was the introduction of Wanderwild to the world, so I felt the need to chase down a few songs that I had been keeping in the back of my mind for years. Other songs, like “Evergreens,” were written in the midst of the recording process. I wrote and played and recorded nearly everything on the EP at my home studio (strings and horns are the exception), so it was challenging at moments, but also incredibly rewarding. Recording happened in between various other projects I was working on from late 2014 through summer 2015.

You have been compared to Death Cab For Cutie and Deerhunter, do any of those guys personally influence your writing?

No doubt, so it’s a huge honor to hear those comparisons. Death Cab was one of my favorite bands growing up, and Deerhunter was a huge part of my early college years. I still love them both. Interestingly enough, I actually borrowed the guitar tuning on “Evergreens” from the Deerhunter song “Helicopter.” It’s mostly standard, but the high E string is tuned down half a step to an E flat, so major bar chords become major seventh chords.

What role does Athens play on your music?

Athens plays a huge role, in ways that I probably don’t even realize. I wouldn’t say that our sound is characteristically “Athens,” but the music community here provides endless energy and inspiration. I’m lucky to have so many talented friends, and to be constantly surrounded by such great music. It makes me strive to be better.

What aspect of love and loss did you get to explore on this material?

Love and loss will always be part of the DNA of my songwriting. It’s inevitable, I think, and I’m far from alone. Thankfully, music is a productive outlet for negative emotions. It’s one of the main ways I process my conscious and subconscious desires, struggles, etc.

So I guess the answer is a lot of aspects.

Any plans to hit the road?

For sure! We’re working on a string of out of town shows in July, and will be looking to book more dates in the fall. If you have any good leads, I’m all ears.

What else is happening next in Wanderwild’s world?

It’s an exciting time for the project. While the EP was a solo effort, there’s a new record in the works that is mostly a full band effort. Wes Gregory (drums), Ian White (guitar), and Taylor Cotton (bass) joined me to play live starting in 2016, and we quickly began arranging and recording new material together. So, expect a new LP in the fall. It’s nearly all recorded, and I’m in the middle of mixing it right now. Can’t wait for people to hear it!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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