Mt. Wolf

Maps and Legends

Oct 11, 2013 Issue #46 - June/July 2013 - Charli XCX
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As many musical artists tend to do, Londoners Kate Sproule, Stevie McMinn, Sebastian "Bassi" Fox, and Al Mitchell have created a unique insignia for their band, Mt. Wolf. Made up of two geometric diamonds, the glyph is a fixture of the group's branded identity, appearing in everything from music videos and publicity photos to the covers of their EPs Life Size Ghosts and Hypolight. In a clever bit of design, the icon's simple, angular outlines mirror the band's initials. Currently in the midst of packing for a brief tour through the U.K., Sproule can't help but laugh at how far her band's obsessiveness with the logo has gone.

"Three of us actually have it tattooed on ourselves," she says. "We were sort of mucking about and made a split-second decision to get them. It's now forever ingrained on our being. Bassi doesn't have it yet, but we're trying to convince him."

For Sproule and the rest of the band, the hope is that people not only will start to recognize Mt. Wolf's identifying mark but, more importantly, will respond to the folk-integrating electronica it represents. With Sproule's classically trained vocals, McMinn's intricate guitar arrangements, Mitchell's effects-laden percussion, and Fox's production work glossing it all in an icy, sprawling soundscape, Mt. Wolf's musical approach is one of careful juxtaposition, pairing what Sproule calls "an element of the otherworldly" with something "a bit more earthy."

"It's not like the two are separate, like here's the acoustic element and here's the electronic element," she says. "All the electronic sounds that you hear are manipulated acoustic recordings, recordings that are reversed, delayed, that kind of thing. They're not synths as such. We make all the sounds from scratch. It's quite specific."

As they make regularly scheduled trips out to the coastal town of Dorset, where Fox has his own studio, the members of Mt. Wolf are intent to take their time in putting together their full-length debut, which will likely see release early next year.

"We're sort of working out the landscape of it," says Sproule. "I think we all feel the two EPs represented quite a journey for us, and by the time we put the final piece into the puzzle, we were really happy with where our sound was going. But there's still more to experiment with, and we want to take the time and play around and see what comes out."

Whatever new techniques the band incorporate into their established sound, Mt. Wolf ultimately want the resulting music to feel like discovering a new location on a mapa sensation they experienced with their imagery-rich moniker, learning only after making it up that it's an actual town in Pennsylvania.

"We liked the idea that it might be somewhere far off," says Sproule. "It kind of sounds made up and we liked that. But then we realized it was a real place. It was almost like it made it even stronger in our eyes. We like the fact that it is grounded in reality, though it seems like a place shrouded in mystery." 

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's June/July 2013 print issue.]



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