Hailing from the South-Central coast of California, Beau James Wilding is a solo artist whose musical prowess has been shaped by diverse influences, spanning from punk and blues to jazz and traditional music. Wilding's journey as a musician started at the tender age of fifteen, with his passion for songwriting and guitar playing blossoming over the years. A life-altering event at eighteen, when he was rendered "legally blind" due to disease, propelled Wilding's relationship with music to new heights, transforming it into a spiritual practice.
Wilding's latest release, "The Dove," is a testament to his ability to craft enthralling musical experiences. This enchanting track masterfully merges a Mediterranean guitar style, resounding violins, and evocative grungy vocals to create a unique, multi-dimensional sound. The song is an homage to various genres and inspirations, encapsulating a harmonious fusion of rhythmic guitars, mellifluous strings, and alluring vocal lines that captivate listeners from the first note.
In "The Dove," Wilding explores embracing life's perceived imperfections and transforming them into a work of art. Inspired by his father's significant brain injury, Wilding's message resonates with listeners as it delves into the universal human experience of living with imperfect bodies and the beauty of allowing those imperfections to tell one's unique and magical story.
In addition to the song's musical and lyrical prowess, "The Dove" also stands out due to its exceptional production quality. The track's sonic landscape is finely crafted, ensuring that each instrument and vocal element is given ample space to breathe while still maintaining a cohesive and immersive listening experience. This attention to detail elevates "The Dove" from a mere composition to a sonic masterpiece, demonstrating Wilding's commitment to his craft.
As Beau James Wilding prepares to release his album "seeing i god" in April 2023, this talented musician's future appears incredibly bright. With "The Dove" as an indication of the depth, emotion, and ingenuity that can be expected from his forthcoming album, it is evident that Wilding is on a trajectory that will undoubtedly propel him to the upper echelons of the music world.
Roll with this one; out everywhere.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Beau James Wilding. Cheers to your latest vibes, “The Dove” In "The Dove," the intricate guitar work and sweeping strings play a significant role in the song's overall impact. How did you approach composing and arranging these elements, and what challenges did you encounter in achieving the desired balance between them?
The song is about my father and his journey of recovery and rehabilitation after a significant stroke he encountered when I was five. It’s about my experience watching him struggle for the rest of his life to overcome this debilitating brain injury and his eventual death. My father was called “the Dove” in college because of his peaceful, calm demeanour. His lifelong close friend Bob who told me this, played violin. My father didn't play the violin but loved all music, including violin music. I often heard him playing Jay Unger’s Ashokan ‘Farewell’ on piano, as much as he could do given his condition. For that reason, and in homage to Bob, the violin felt right for the track. The violinist on the track, David Stone, is a classically trained violinist from Santa Barbara. He was in my band at the time, and so I asked him if he could play on the track. This part was largely improvised in the studio, with me coaching and encouraging David on what I wanted. The image I had was of a dove travelling through space on to its next adventure, which is how I see my father after having left this earthly realm. I remember telling David, “Don’t be afraid to get weird—think after ours and a couple of whiskies deep at the Scottish fiddler’s convention, think psychedelic dove in space!” The violin adds a great depth to the track, and I’m grateful he was willing to contribute his skills. The dirty electric guitar is meant to invoke a sense of life's grittiness, suffering and simultaneously the hard-edged determination to transcend it. I also wanted that deep feedback drone from the electric to pervade the whole track. I’m fascinated by drones and thought they would add to the rough eeriness of the whole composition. The engineer JP and I had many layers of electric guitar and violin, and it was a process to balance them all. The end goal was a feeling of build-up of intensity with a climax at the instrumental break before the last verse. JP and I meticulously went through each cut of violin and guitar, editing mistakes and foibles and weaving the many threads together to create the final tapestry.
Throughout "The Dove," your grungy vocals contribute significantly to the emotive quality of the track. Can you share the process behind developing your distinct vocal style and how it complements the theme of embracing imperfections?
From around fifteen, I wrote songs and dreamed of being a songwriter. But I always felt I wasn’t good enough to pursue my calling for some reason. I tried singing a couple of times but never quite felt comfortable with it. I thought my voice was weird and unpalatable, certainly not beautiful. In other words, imperfect for sure. It was when I found “weird” or different-sounding singers like Louis Armstrong, Tom Waits and the many strange and intense vocalists of the punk rock world that I began to feel a sense of licensure to be myself. To name a few, Henry Rollins, Glen Danzig, Bobby Sox, Ian Curtis and Steve Ignorant, amongst others. Blind Willie Johnson and Ronnie Drew were also a major inspirations. I figured I would accept my so-called imperfect voice, take pleasure in my weirdness, push it as far as I could push it and see where that took me. I had heard that Tom Waits used to scream into a pillow to give his voice the rough quality that it has, so I started doing that, and it seemed to help loosen me up. I became known for my screaming pre-rehearsal. I remember screaming a bit in the studio when recording this record. There was a time in which I had to push the roughness and the weirdness to the extreme to experiment and feel out what was right for me. The first record, “Violet of the Pacific,” is an example of me pushing my voice way too far, so much that it is painful. But I may not have gotten to the point I am now without experimenting with the extremes.
A note of interest on the vocals for “The Dove”; this was a tough song for me to sing. I wanted to convey a sense of immediacy, of aggressive determination as well as a sense of theatricality. That balance was difficult to achieve. My original idea was to speak some parts and sing others. JP suggested that I do both and add an additional whisper track. So, the vocals blend sung, whispered and spoken words.
The lyrics in "The Dove" evoke a sense of vulnerability and self-acceptance. Can you discuss any personal experiences or emotions that inspired these lyrics and how you channelled them into the songwriting process?
As stated, the song was inspired by my father, who had a disability when I was five. But I have also had my own lived experience with a disability as I am “legally blind.” My wife is completely blind, and in my other job, I work to help support the disability community here in California, so disability touches my life. Something I’m stating without stating in the song is that we all have perceived flaws, perceived imperfections, whether you have a bona fide “disability” or not. I see a lot of separation between the disabled and non-disabled communities, with the non-disabled folks often treating us as unfortunate others. But disability is a natural part of the human experience. If you live long enough, you will likely age into some type of disability. This relates to my overall ethos. We are all part of one human family, one beautiful human rainbow. With no true state of perfection attainable, how could a state of imperfection even exist? The only state imperfection can exist is in the context of comparison. In the first verse, I am playing with the spiritual concept that one chooses their existence, chooses the form they will inhabit before birth to help the world. A friend once said that my father came to this world in the form he did to show us all how loving presence is our most valuable offering. Hence the lines “I will break my back and tear out my eyes/And still prove I am love through majestic flight”. In the second verse, I am discussing growth. This gnarled and twisted process is self-improvement, and emphasizing that the at-times the flashy state of supposed perfection is not always what is of highest value: “Though my thorns be mangled/Petals droop like heavy sighs/It’s my quiet strength that abides and inspires life.” In other words, it’s not always the surface-level expressions of beauty that are most valuable for one to aspire to. And the conclusion “Man said to God/through the broken body you gave me I have learned/I’m love not form/boundless, beyond time” is the transcending, the equanimity, the sense of personal triumph, joy and connection that comes from living true to one’s own personal path.
Considering the beautiful blend of various genres and inspirations in "The Dove," can you share some of the key artists or musical influences that shaped this unique sound and how their impact is reflected in the track?
In “The Dove,” as with many other tracks on the album, I’m attempting to fuse some elements of 80s hardcore punk with elements of Irish traditional music and traditional folk music, more broadly speaking. Some touchstones of the punk world would be Black Flag, particularly the guitar work of Greg Ginn and Henry Rollin’s mid-career vocals—also, the experimental punk of the Flesh Eaters and the amazing guitar playing of Jay Mascis. A life-changing record for me was the Planxty self-titled/”black album,” which inspired some of the acoustic tones and the use of the bodhran. I was listening to a lot of Lankum, in particular, “Cold Old Fire” and “Between the Earth and Sky,” while recording the record. I’d come home from the studio, make the dinner and throw one of those on the turntable and get lost in all the layered, textural tones that are swimming about together, building and taunting one another until a roaring wave-like crescendo is reached. I wanted to create something like that in my unique sphere, using my unique musical toolbox and aesthetic. Around the time that I composed the Dove, I had just begun listening to Rodrigo y Gabriella. There was also a record on my turntable pretty regularly at that time, which is a live, duelling piano recording of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock in which they play with some improvised flamenco motifs such as clapping, finger-snapping and the Andalusian cadence. So that “Spanish” style, which to me is so energetic, eerie and beautiful, was also on my mind. The chord progression for “The Dove” is a reverse Andalusian cadence.
With the upcoming release of your album "seeing i god" and the success of "The Dove," what are your aspirations for the future, both as an artist and in terms of the messages and themes you hope to explore in your forthcoming projects?
I hope to keep building the project and adding to the snowball! My live sound partner Tom Kenny and I are taking off to Ireland and will be playing gigs there. (Shameless plug, if anyone in Ireland wants to set up a gig, we’ll be there from 4/30 – 5/15! Let me know if you are interested!) My goal is to continue to develop interest in my home region on the central coast in California and I’d love to make some connections in the Pacific Northwest after that. I’d like to play more festivals, get some non-commercial radio exposure, and just keep marching forward to the next right thing! If it sounds like fun, we’ll probably do it. As far as themes, determination, being true to one’s self, individuation, the creative process, studying the self, the human experience and breaking down boundaries between people to find greater connection are all lyrical themes I think I could explore for quite a long time! What excites me the most musically is making something that sounds at once ancient and modern, natural and industrial. That clash has become how we live. The oil derricks in the middle of the beautiful Pacific you can see if you walk out my front door are an example. So I want to keep listening to the oldest folk music, moshing to the weirdest rock n’ roll, finding a way to fuse a feeling of ancient mystery with edgy modernity, and let passion flower and flail to its greatest potential!