"It's more mature and more vulnerable" - Wye Oak open up about new album Shriek...
As Baltimore off-kilter folk pop duo Wye Oak prepare to release their fourth full-length effort Shriek, we caught up with singer Jenn Wasner to find out all about the album's making, how she and drummer Andy Stack reconnected after time apart to work on other projects and why this is a more mature and more vulnerable record...
So Shriek is about to come out, how are you feeling ahead of release? Excited or nervous?
"So excited! It's been finished for a while now, so we're really anxious to finally have it out there."
When did you finish the record? Have you been sat on it for a while?
"We finished mixing in November, so feels like an eternity ago, although I think that's a pretty standard amount of lead time."
When was the album written?
"Mostly between March and September of 2013."
You and Andy have spent a big part of the time in between albums working on other projects, how did that inform the writing of Shriek?
"The two projects that I've spent the most time with outside of Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes and Dungeonesse, have been important opportunities to learn an entirely different creative skill set. I've only recently begun learning how to take recording and production duties into my own hands, and although I still have much to learn, those two projects played a big part in that process."
"Being able to realize production ideas instantaneously has changed the way I write, very much for the better. I'm able to work with more complex ideas from the outset, resulting in more interesting, adventurous compositions."
Did you find it hard to come back to Wye Oak after working on other projects? Did it take time to get back into that headspace?
"Not at all…once I was writing again, that is. I did go through a long period of creative draught, and challenging myself creatively was one of the ways I coped with that. But I group songs thematically and tonally rather than aesthetically."
"Thus, although it's clear to me which songs belong with which project, it's not always obvious to others. When I'm writing often and feeling productive, I'm usually working in a few different areas at once."
You worked with Nicolas Vernhes on the album, what was he like to work with?
"Nicolas did a great job with the record, we're really happy with the way it turned out. It was also such a relief to have a third set of ears involved in the process, usually it's just the two of us trapped in a room with one another, and it can be very easy to lose perspective!"
How do you think this record moves on from your last album Civilian?
"I think it's a very natural progression. I've heard as much from others, but I think how people respond to it depends on whether they tend to fixate on surface-level aesthetics or on the songs themselves. Overall, it feels much more in tune with my current self--perhaps more subtle, it's more mature and more vulnerable but comfortable in my own skin."
What kind of record is it lyrically? Are there any unifying themes? Is it a personal album?
"Initially, the record started as a series of mantras that I would repeat in an attempt to center myself and find a sense of peace and calm. I discovered that the place I find when I successfully meditate is similar to the place that I'm in when I'm writing, so there's a certain meditative quality to the lyrics as well."
"I think the biggest difference from past records is that those tended to deal with my relationships with others, whereas this record explores the way I relate to myself and my own internal space."
What does the rest of 2014 look like for you?
"I try not to think too far ahead or else I get overwhelmed. I know we're touring quite a bit! But certainly not as much as we used to."
Finally, what are you listening to at the moment? Are there any new artists that have caught your attention?
"We're really happy to see our pals Future Islands getting so much love. Their new record is wonderful."
Wye Oak's new album Shriek will be released on April 28th and is available to pre-order now in hmv stores. They tour the UK and Ireland in June playing shows in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Belfast and Dublin. Full details can be found here.