A Chat with Josiah Wolf (05.08.2020)

You might know Josiah Wolf as the founding member and multi-instrumentalist of the band WHY?, but he has also branched out on his own. While he has not released any solo material since 2010, he is back with a vengeance. His latest release Crest EP is a slow-build that blooms with all the sounds he has become known for. We sat down with Josiah Wolf (JW) to talk about the EP, his music and much more!

OSR: This is your first solo work since 2010, why the big gap?

JW: Writing and recording solo music is not something that I do on any sort of schedule; only when the spirit moves me, so to speak, and clearly that’s not very often!

OSR: Who were your earliest musical influencers?

JW: My parents raised us on mostly religious music for lack of a better term. My favourite band as a child was called Lamb, not the same Lamb that some may be familiar with. My brother and I idolized them and had these small toy guitars that we would just strum aimlessly without even trying any of the frets. This must have factored into our direction in life.

OSR: How different is solo work to working as part of a band?

JW: I enjoy both. Obviously, with solo work, I get to make all the decisions which is nice but sometimes you want that second opinion. When co-producing with my brother there is a lot of bouncing back and forth. With WHY? it is essentially his call at the end of the day, although he certainly values my opinion.

OSR: As a solo artist, would you like to collaborate with anyone? Is so, who and why?

JW: I’m don’t always know how to collaborate with others as far as writing or producing goes. I can certainly jam with other musicians but that is different. I’d love to find someone who I could really work well together with and who complimented my strengths and weaknesses. I don’t have a specific person in mind, just an idea of a person.

OSR: What sets your music apart?

JW: Well, that’s not something I can say. Someone else would have to determine this. I, like anyone, want to think of myself as unique and I suppose we all are in some way as Mister Rogers says. Some more than others I would add (not in the spirit of Fred RIP).

OSR: What is the story behind Crest EP?

JW: ‘The Insides of This Side’ and ‘Submission’ were written and recorded during the first half of 2019, a couple of months apart from each other during two separate psychedelic journeys. Each song I wrote and then immediately recorded. Vocals and guitars were tracked together on a Tascam 388 tape machine then revisited a year later and heavily produced in Pro Tools with additional instruments and my wife Liz adding background vocals. I considered re-recording my vocals for a cleaner sound and to separate them from the guitar but there was something about the urgency and sincerity of the original recordings that could not be recaptured.

Also, there were some ghosts in the old tape that were strangely fitting and mysterious so really I had no choice but to keep the original tracks. ‘The King of our Time’ is based on the Polysix loop that begins the tune which I made from one of Liz’s improvisations on the synthesizer last year. I turned it into a song this May 2020 to round out and anchor the EP around current events that are so prevalent I could find no other direction. The chorus that Liz so beautifully sings came to me while mowing the lawn on a hot sunny day. Some of the lyrics are based on a conversation I had with my mother.

Josiah Wolf

OSR: What is your favourite track from the EP and why?

JW: I would say ‘The Insides of this Side’ is my favourite of the EP. It just has the vibe that I like and the vocals have a nice relaxed tone to them.

OSR: Do you sing while you cook? If so, what type of songs?

JW: I do not.

OSR: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

JW: Good question. I wish I had a good answer but I honestly can’t think of any specific thing at the moment. I know I’ve received helpful advice here and there from books or interviews of people I admire or perhaps even in person by someone speaking directly to me but nothing is sticking out in my mind.

OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to take away from your music?

JW: Just enjoy it! Put on some headphones and take a walk while you listen. Breath and enjoy the moment.

Thanks to Josiah Wolf for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his website, Facebook and Soundcloud.

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