The dream-pop North London band fronted by Zoe Mead have been making waves, gaining support internationally, and garnering the attention and praise of many names in music including Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody.
The band, once quoted as making “sad songs that sound happy”, is made up of Zoe Mead, Jack Gooderham and Mariin Kallikorm. With melancholic lyrics, emotional vocals and a warm depth of synths, the sound truly is a nostalgic and breathtaking offering of ‘shoegaze/dream-pop’.
With the release of their album Dream Chaos last year, and Redream Chaos last month, it would be fair to say there is no shortage of passion, work ethic, and talent in Wyldest, who have continued to embrace and transform the unique sound they have developed and honed over the past 5 years.
Not only is the band’s sound catching the attention of music critics, lovers and makers internationally, the stories behind their songs are too. Quiet Violet tells the story of “a struggling adult who succumbs to societal pressures and gets themselves trapped in a life full of broken dreams and frustration.” Reaching a wide audience through universal subject matter, but in the medium of an experimental sound uncommon to the ears of many, Wyldest are a breath of fresh air.
We caught up with Zoe to chat about Wyldest, the journey into self-production, and some inspiring songs to keep us going in isolation…
Hi (from a social distance)! How are you coping with the lock-down?
Hi there (puts elbow out). I am actually doing fine. I was in NYC playing a festival called ‘New Colossus’ just before this whole thing happened, so was lucky to have been away. I’ve also been creating a heck of a lot of music from my bedroom. New album will probably come sooner rather than later now. I feel a little cabin fever-ish and miss going out to gigs. I miss my band mates. But we’ve invented all kinds of fun games on the internet. It’s like the MSN days all over again.
MSN era 2.0 for sure! After releasing the work of art that is Dream Chaos last year, you released Redream Chaos last month – was that always the plan? How did it come to be?
It wasn’t the plan at all actually. My manager George just asked me to make an acoustic version of the album – I decided to do it for fun. I started making it, then my friend Lucci (Luciano Rossi from Dama Scout and Idewilde) got involved with the production of it and it came out a lot better than expected so we decided to make a little bit more of a thing of it. We just thought it may be nice for it to have a bit of time to be heard, rather than disappearing into the archives of the Internet too soon.
Well, we’re glad it came to be! Aside from the success with the albums, your reworking of You Could be Happy has also seen you catapulted further, with a prime-time TV sync and even getting praise from Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody himself! How was that whole experience?
Yeah that was all a bit unexpected, but a nice thing to happen. Meeting Gary was by far the best thing about it. He is such a wonderful, gentle soul and the whole experience really inspired me to keep on working, creating music. I still keep in touch with him and I haven’t had to pay to see Snow Patrol since – RESULT.
Snow Patrol black card- we’re jealous! So, delving back in time… how was Wyldest created, and where did the name come from?
Wyldest was created in my bedroom back in 2014. My first ever band broke up and I had to build the confidence to write music on my own. I had very little confidence back then…so it took a few years to write a bunch of stuff and feel confident about it. After releasing the first EP I met my bandmates.
I originally called the project ‘Wildest Dreams’, but it turned out Taylor Swift and an American DJ had already taken the name, so I just changed it to ‘Wyldest’ – I wasn’t trying to be trendy with the ‘Y’ or anything.
We like ‘Wyldest’ better anyhow! When it comes to writing and production, am I right in thinking it is all self-produced? How does the process work?
My jump from ‘person with guitar in band’ to songwriter and producer was a few years in the making. At the end of 2018, I decided to self-produce the album (Dream Chaos) to break down the wall associated with ‘I need a professional studio and recording engineer to record my music’.
I had a basic 8-channel interface, some basic but decent mics and was fortunate to have a studio space down in Greenwich, so I began by recording the drums and then built the tracks from there. I’m really grateful for that time, as it marked the start of my creative control. And made me realise that recording and production is not something you need a degree and 20 years of experience for. You just need to know what you want to do and find the best ways of doing it. I now have the freedom to create on demand – be it for Wyldest, writing for film, TV, producing other bands…I love doing it all. I now still work with other writers and producers for fun, but it’s always under my own terms – because I want to, not because I have to. For example I’m working on some pretty bat shit weird wonky stuff with a couple of producers I’ve admired for some time atm. Not sure if it’s for Wyldest but the isolation stuff seems to have inspired this whole wonky rabbit hole of music creation – and I’m having a lot of fun with it.
The influence of the 80s and the later Shoegaze era are omnipresent in your releases. What or who would you say are your biggest inspirations and influences?
My long-term influences are pretty varied… 1990s Shoegaze and 1980’s pop… Depeche Mode, Madonna, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Brian Wilson, Emmet Rhodes, The Beatles… These will never change and I will always go back to their records for influence I think. My influences are however very changeable from day to day. At the moment, my reference playlists are full of a lot of contemporary music which sit between indie, left field and 90’s hip hop for example Blood orange, Porches, Superorganism, Thundercat… I just love the way these artists are merging genres and creating something 100% fresh, but you can really hear the nostalgia. The production techniques they are using are also inspiring – vinyl sampling, but with digital manipulation techniques.
And if you had to describe your own sound (always a tricky question, but here goes…) how would you describe it?
Wyldest is ever evolving…because I can’t decide what music genre I love most and I probably never will. It has been Shoegaze/Pop in the past, but I’m slowly falling out of love with reverb in favour of more upfront production where the vocals hit you in the face. The new Wyldest album is looking to be shaping up as a guitar-pop album, with more fuzz, less reverb, a touch cinematic and perhaps a few fun production techniques – like auto-tune and sampling.
Ever evolving is a good way to be! So, with all our readers stuck at home (unable to go to gigs and such), we were hoping you could give them a mini playlist. Can you give us five songs you love?
- Mood, Porches: “I really think Aaron Maine (the writer behind Porches) is really creating something entirely unique. The way his music moves, the production and the instrumentation is so fun to listen to.”
- Gretel, Alex G: “He seems to be inspiring a whole new generation of bedroom musicians because of his prolific songwriting. This tune is from his new album. It’s not only a beautiful song melodically, the meaning behind it stirs up all kind of nostalgic emotions for me. He sings about his hometown – missing it, but not wanting to go back, having moved on from it. Something a lot of people can relate to I guess.”
- Shark Smile, Big Thief: “This song always makes me smile. Adrianne Lenker is a special songwriter – her vocal is once of those that I could never tire of. She could sing anything and make it sound perfect.”
- Skin Game, Diiv: “Just when I thought Diiv could surpass their level of contemporary Shoegaze masterfulness they went and released their latest album ‘Deceiver’. This is such a catchy jam – kind of dark…It’s an instant love kinda tune. Just have a listen and you’ll find yourself wanting to pick up a fuzzy guitar and make Shoegaze music for the time being.”
- Cherry Blossom, Air: “Air were one of the reasons I wanted to make music in the first place. When I watched ‘The Virgin Suicides’ back in the day I remember being in-awe of it largely due to the music. A few years down the line, I saw Air live and their blend of electronic and organic instruments made me more excited about making music than ever. I also reference Air whenever I’m going to write something for film…It’s probably my number one, go-to reference. This song is so perfect. It’ll make you feel calm at this strange time.”
Any final words of wisdom for our readers?
“The road to changing the world is never ending – pace yourself” – Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers (read this book)
With an album hopefully coming “soon rather than later”, we’re excited to see what comes next from Wyldest. Keep up to date below…
Photo: Tom Gaiger