Wye Oak: Bringing It All Back Home Interview | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, November 14th, 2019  

Wye Oak

Bringing It All Back Home

Oct 17, 2016 Photography by Ray Lego Issue #58 - The Protest Issue
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Wye Oak's fifth studio album Tween was a surprise release. But as singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner explains, the move was more a tribute to the nature of the material than an attempt to mimic industry heavy-hitters. The mini album of guitar-driven songs had an unorthodox route to their reveal, written and initially recorded after 2011's Civilian before being set aside in favor of the synth-heavy pop experiments that became 2014's Shriek. Given that, it seemed natural to present them to fans without the traditional buildup.

"For me it was harkening back to a time when making music doesn't have the baggage it does now," she notes from her band's tour van, just outside of their hometown Baltimore, Maryland. "When you make music your job, you dedicate your life to it in such a distinct way. There's still so much joy in it for us but it's a different relationship than when we were young and did it just because we loved it. Fortunately we were allowed to release it in an atypical way. It feels like going back to a lot of firsts."

The Wye Oak frontwoman might be underselling their work. Tween is a heady eight-song album, marrying the sweep of guitars from their earlier work and the sinuous piano lines of Shriek. The alchemy of elements manifests itself in different forms across the release, from the atmospheric wall of electronics and guitars on album opener "Out of Nowhere," to the sweetly plaintive pop of closer "Watching the Waiting."

Although they had originally held off on finishing and releasing these songs because Shriek's guitar-free conceit was so enticing, drummer Andy Stack notes that the pause also unexpectedly played in their favor.

"Jen was saying that she feels like we've become much better producers," he says. "I think that's a big part of it. Trusting yourself, having enough experience from enough different directions. Throw yourself into a project and really maximize what you're bringing to it. When I hear these words coming out of my mouth I feel like I sound like some kind of business coach. I'm like, 'It's about productivity and personal effectiveness!' But it is a project," Stack laughs. "Oh my god, what am I saying?"

Wasner is also releasing If You See Me, Say Yes, her first solo album under the name Flock of Dimes. Meanwhile, Stack notes he'll be returning to his second gig as a composer for film and television. Both members of Wye Oak say that the experiment of revitalizing Tween had breathed new life into their band.

"I don't think we've ever done anything like this before," says Stack. "I'm as surprised as anyone else. There is some benefit to letting stuff just be and not having some sort of revisionist approach to your creative self.... But interestingly sometimes you make music and you don't relate to it in the time that you make it. And then you come back with fresh eyes and you see something that you missed in the first place. I think art is deceptive in that way. It really doesn't always strike you in the same way at every moment."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's August/September/October 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.wyeoakmusic.com

 

 



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