Hailing From New Zealand, Singer-Songwriter, Alexander Wildwood Opens Up About His Influences And How Living On A Boat Has Impacted His Music
Posted On 14 Oct 2014
Tag: Alexander Wildwood, And Your Bird Can Sing, Andy Vandette, Auckland, Australia, Bad Blood, Beach Boys, Beastie Boys, Big Day Festival, Black Swan Green, Boy & Bear, Bright Eyes, Brooke Fraser, Bukowski, Butch Walker, Cloud Atlas, Conor Oberst, David Bowie, David Mitchell, Delta Spirit, Drinking with Strangers, Ezra Vine, Hemingway, Imagine, J.D Salinger, Jimmy Eat World, John Lennon, Jonathan Safra Foer, Kanye West, Metric, Neil Young, New Zealand, Nic Manders, Phil Collins, Revolver, Summer Skin, The Beatles, The Last Night of the Earth, The National, Tolstoy, Tree of Codes, Vance Joy, We Don't Talk, Weezer
Though he now sets up shop on New Zealand’s East Coast, the multi-instrumentalist, Alexander Wildwood spent most of his childhood at sea. This maritime upbringing, it seems, has done him a lot of good on the music front. It’s immediately apparent upon listening to Mr. Wildwood’s latest single “Summer Skin” that pop flows through his veins.
For a relatively unknown artist, Wildwoods music’s is already making big waves – having been chosen to support Australia’s Boy & Bear on their New Zealand tour last month. Learn more about this promising musician in the following interview:
Can you remember the moment that you wanted to be a musician?
I was always into music. My parents always had music playing when I was young but it wasn’t until I went to a Big Day Festival in Auckland when I was about 12 with my Mom & I saw bands playing live that it sparked something in me that made me think ‘I want to do that one day.’ Pretty much ever since then I’ve wanted to be a musician.
How have you grown as a performer over the years?
I’ve definitely grown as a performer, for sure. Playing live is always super exciting because there’s an element of uncertainty. I think that uncertainty brings a really great energy, it’s something you don’t get in the studio. With where I’m at now, I still get that nervous excitement but I know the songs are great & as long as the crowd & I are creating those unique moments that’s all that matters.
Just excitement really. I’ve been working on these songs for the last two and a half years. I’ve written thirty songs & picked these five tracks which I feel are the most honest representation of who I am so the thought of getting them out into the world is so exciting.
Do you think that growing up in New Zealand has influenced your music and if so, how? What about growing up on a yacht sailing all over the world?
Growing up sailing the world definitely shaped the way I see the world & being exposed to all kinds of music gave me a real openness to songs I think. I grew up with the Beach Boys, Phil Collins & Neil Young & because we didn’t have radio while sailing that was all I listened too. It wasn’t till settling in New Zealand that I started to listen to more pop radio. The great thing with NZ is that it’s insulated enough from the rest of the world that you kinda have the opportunity to try & make something unique but through the internet you can still be apart of the world.
Did you write a lot of your music aboard that yacht growing up?
Well, I was pretty young so nothing I’d ever show the world. I wrote a lot of short stories though. I still have those journals somewhere. I think that’s where I first got into writing or expressing myself, for sure.
We live in a world where technology has given people the freedom to release an album all on their own. How does it feel to have been able to write, record and produce your music?
Yeah, it’s very exciting. In saying that though I was recording my own music when I was 15 on our home stereo. It had two tapes & you had to record everything one instrument at a time & if you made a mistake you had to wipe the tape & start over. It was pretty frustrating to say the least! Pretty soon after that I got a some software for writing midi instruments & got into that & it’s been a slow progression from that into my studio that I have now. It is great to have the freedom.
I have read that you are greatly inspired by well-known writers. Why is that? Who are some of your all-time favorite authors? Read anything new recently?
With songwriting you’re really telling a story or conveying an emotion, I’ve always found authors to be really inspiring for that reason. Hemingway, Bukowski, J.D Salinger are some of my favourites. Bukowski was & is definitely a big influence on my writing, “The Last Night of the Earth” poems was a life changing book of poems for me really. Lately, I really love Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Tree of Codes.” It’s a phenomenal book. Also, David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” & “Black Swan Green” are both fantastic. I’m also a big Butch Walker fan & while he might not be known for his literary skills his book “Drinking with Strangers” was really inspiring as well & a great read.
Tell me about your current singles, “Summer Skin” and “Bad Blood”. Why are these the first singles to be released?
“Summer Skin” was a song a wrote awhile ago & it was just such a feel good song, I thought it was a great one to put out first. I didn’t really put it out as a single more as a way to put something out into the world to say ‘Hey! I’m here.’ “Bad Blood” was my favorite song from the collection I had written. I wrote 30 songs before choosing the five that would become the EP. “Bad Blood” was my favorite song & one I still think is the strongest from the bunch.
On this EP, you worked with Nic Manders and Andy Vandette. Andy has previously worked with David Bowie and Metric. What was it like working with someone with that kind of resume?
It’s great. Both of them are really professional. Nic has done a lot of great artists here in NZ like Ezra Vine & Brooke Fraser & we knew a lot of the same people so it made working together really easy. Working with someone who has done artists like David Bowie & the Beastie Boys is kind of crazy. It’s almost weird to think ‘Man, this guy worked on some of the biggest records ever & now he’s working on my songs?!’ but he is a lovely guy & he did such a fantastic job. Together they are a real dream team!
John Lennon would be the first choice for me. A song he wrote when he was in The Beatles on Revolver called “And Your Bird Can Sing” was a big reason I started playing guitar when I was young & the songwriting on “Imagine” is just out of this world. Butch Walker would also be rad, he’s also a great songwriter & has worked with such a range or artists. I’d just love to talk with someone who’s written so many great songs!
What are you favorite songs on this EP? What are you most excited to share with the world?
“Bad Blood” is definitely one of my favorites. There’s also a song called “We Don’t Talk” which is a longer song & it means a lot to me. It’s got great groove & takes you on a real journey so I’m excited for people to hear it.
What are some of your all-time favorite bands? Anything that you are really enjoying on the radio now?
All time, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say Conor Oberst both his solo work & with Bright Eyes. I love The National & Delta Spirit as well. But bands that got me into music like Weezer & Jimmy Eat World would have to be in there somehow. Such a hard question! I like Vance Joy who’s on radio at the moment. Kanye West is always great also.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
This was actually at a practice room I had a rehearsal in once. After we finished there was this office chair in the room & somehow I got an idea that we should try & see if we can lie down on it (planking kinda) and kick off from one side of the room to get the to other. Pretty soon it turned into a competition to see who could do it first. My drummer launched himself so hard across the room, he was flying on the chair. He ended up putting his head through the wall to which we all just fell on the ground laughing uncontrollably. It was great.
Where do you see yourself in 10 – 20 years?
Still writing songs both for myself & with other artists. Hopefully, I will have traveled a lot more by then. It would be great to be able to still tour & have music that people love. That’s the dream really, an actual career rather than a moment or two.
I’m not sure there is a definitive message through my music. It’s so reflective. It’s all just that existential grind. If there is a message it’s probably along the lines of what Tolstoy said “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”