Tagged as “one of music’s hippest chicks” by the New York Post, dreamy psych-folk songstress Alexa Wilding is gearing up to release her new EP Wolves, on July 8th. The six songs unfold as Polaroids, revisiting lovers past and life on the road before Wilding became a mother of twins in 2013. What the album does not directly address is the nightmare during which the songs were written, on a borrowed toy piano, in the hospital while her son underwent a successful treatment for cancer. Her emotional experience drove Wilding to create an emotional and personal album that features rich and hauntingly earthy vibes.
In anticipation of her upcoming album, Talk Nerdy With us sat down with Alexa Wilding to talk all about her new album.
How would you compare the sound of this album compared to your previous albums?
“Wolves” is so much fuller. I struggled before with breaking out of the girl-with-a-guitar model on my last records. Granted, those albums are dear to me, and I am a girl with a guitar! But on this record, I play mostly piano and I handed over other instrumentation to some truly stellar but sensitive players. I was able then to make the “big” record I always wanted to make, without sacrificing the intimacy and confessional songwriting I am most at home with.
This is a very personal album for you for a lot of reasons. You have said that you made this album to make peace with the past to fight for your families future. How did you come to this realization?
The album was written on a toy piano in the hospital while one of my twin sons (Lou, now 3) underwent cancer treatment. Becoming a mother of twins was a shock in itself, and then having to save one of their lives…it was so much to process that I turned to the one thing I knew how to do, writing songs. When I became a mother, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue making music. I was pretty scarred from some industry disappointments, I was doubting why I was doing it in the first place. But then there I was, smack in the middle of every mother’s worst nightmare, and the songs started pouring out of me. I got so much strength from the work. The songs reminded me of my power, and I was able then, in turn, to “do like the wolves do,” and protect and care for my family during our crisis.
Did writing this album help you move on from events in the past?
It was so therapeutic! When I told people I was writing an album in the hospital, everyone assumed it was about cancer. And while there is a dark undercurrent (as there always is in my music) the album is actually more about the joy of letting go – of disappointments, bad relationships, ideas about myself, control in general. Those things were really holding me back from being the person and artist I wanted to be. The ironic thing is “Wolves” is my most upbeat album yet.
Although all the songs from “Wolves” are very personal, is there one in particular that you were nervous and scared to put out there?
“Black” is a small song, barely 2 minutes, but it is the one I hold closest to my heart. Years ago a friend of mine was telling me of an indiscretion, and how things seemed to get “blacker and blacker” as the days, the affair, went on. I had been waiting to use the line “blacker and blacker” for years, the idea of one’s days seeping slowly into darkness, like spilled ink. During Lou’s treatment, I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, I really tried to be a warrior, even when deep down I was terrified. One particularly difficult night in the hospital I sat in the window with the piano and sang “it got blacker and blacker and blacker and black.” It was the first time I had admitted to myself how terrified I was and that the days did feel like I might disappear into the darkness.
Now that your son is cancer free (yay!), has that experience changed how you approach life day to day?
Every day feels like the greatest gift. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Some days, and balancing twins and music and life, it can be hard to not sweat the small stuff. But I really don’t anymore, and that’s freedom. Likewise, making music feels like a privilege, whereas before this experience it was so fraught with fear and my ego was constantly tripping me up. The joy I feel on stage singing these songs, songs I didn’t think would ever see the light of day…I get chills just talking about it.
“Wolves” was co-produced with Tom Beaujour, and I read that the bones of the album were recorded live in just one day along with Tim Foljahn on lead guitar, Jeremy Wilms on bass and Brian Kantor on drums. That is pretty incredible. What was that experience like? Was it your intention to do the album in one day or did it just happen?
I think Tom thought I was out of my mind when I called him from the hospital and said I wanted to come in and make a record. Immediately! I literally gathered the best musicians I knew, and got on the train straight from the hospital more or less in my pajamas and I had never been happier in my life to get to work. I thought we would be in there for days, but the energy in the room was so magical, the musicians were so generous and present, that we banged out the basic tracks in one day. “Durga,” the last song on the record, we even ended up keeping the scratch vocals, I was in such a zone for that one.
“Wolves ” is set to be released on July 8th. You have released two prior albums with Tiny Prism Records. Based on your experience, what are you most looking forward to in the next few months leading to the release of your album?
Tiny Prism is my own label, and I l do love the freedom of releasing music when I want to on my own terms. I am most looking forward to the songs starting to infect others. The live shows have been so rewarding for me. The songs were written in such isolation that to see people singing along and tapping their feet…it’s wild! I am most looking forward to getting the story out there, the story that sometimes the darkest times yield the brightest light, and that we all have a fierce wolf inside us, leading the way.
This highly anticipated EP will release via Wilding’s own Tiny Prism label. For more information, please visit: http://www.alexawilding.com/.
You can listen to her new single “Eden” on BUST, here.