Interview with wilter on Vulnerability and Self Discovery in New Single, "solo/solong"
Not every summer day is bright and sunny-- and luckily, LA-based artist Will Durkee has us covered under his alias, wilter. His new single, “solo/solong,” is the perfect bridge between electro-acoustic synthesizers and pure vulnerability. The track’s subtle-yet-masterful sampling evoke an overcast sunset, a warm breeze, and a quiet catharsis. After a hectic and heavy year around the globe, wilter’s devastating honesty sets him apart from the crowd, accomplishing what many emerging artists have yet to display. We’ll be keeping an eye out for his latest and greatest-- read on for a sneak peek!
How did you get started making music? Who/what first inspired you?
At the beginning of high school I got a record player and the first record I bought with my dad was “The Freewhelin’ Bob Dylan”. I listened to that record nearly every day for a year and was amazed by what he could do with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. I got an acoustic guitar and jumped right into the songwriter thing. For the next few years I tried to write every song with the intention of being played live and solo. Looking back I’m really happy to have that solid songwriting base to start my musical path. Then in college I started listening to a lot more electronic and production heavy music
that made me want to take a turn down that path.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your influences?
A warm sea on a rainy day.. I try to always switch up my influences and vary what I listen to - and that does tend to have an impact on the songs I write. 2020 was filled with a lot of ambient music and I think it bled a lot into my production style. If I had to pin down my musical DNA to just a couple artists though I’d say Bon Iver and Thom Yorke.
You work largely in electro-acoustics, and your latest single has such a unique hybrid. What does the creative process look like working with digital music?
It varies pretty wildly depending on what the first catalyst is for the song. When I start with my acoustic it takes a fairly linear path from guitar to melody to lyrics to layering the synths and any other elements delicately on top. When I start with a synth patch or sample though shit hits the fan in a really fun way. Sometimes I’ll look through old ideas to see what I can combine and Frankenstein together with the initial inspiration into a song. Sometimes I’ll stretch and chop the idea into something different. It feels good to be out of my songwriting comfort zone and just allow myself to mess around without rules.
What inspired “solo/solong”?
I was on a red-eye flight fresh off a breakup - like ex dropped me off at the airport fresh - and couldn’t sleep. I had my op-1 with me and wrote this cold, wobbly synth patch. The patch just immediately connected with that moment for me - hurtling in a cold, hollow, aluminum tube surrounded by people, but still feeling so alone. It was sad but soothing to feel that aloneness.
What do you want listeners to take away from "solo/solong"?
Just that feeling of being very much in your own skin that you can only find in sadness. Those few days after a loss might be excruciating but they don’t last forever. I think it’s really important to fully experience those moments and see the beauty in them.
Has COVID impacted your creative work at all?
Yeah for sure - it’s made me much more self-sufficient. Before the pandemic I planned on collaborating with other producers/musicians for all of my tracks. Locked at home, especially early in the pandemic, I had no choice but to just make everything on my own. Don’t get me wrong, collaboration is essential for many songs and projects, but there is a level of creative cohesion that you can get when you make every part on your own.
What advice would you give yourself ten years ago, or when you were just getting started? What words do you live by?
I used to hold onto a lot of music out of fear of it never being perfect. The truth is that you’re always gonna find flaws in something you spend so much time with. There’s never a perfect time to release. You just have to do the best you can do, notice when you are working too much on little details that won’t affect the end experience, and then move on to make more and more. You’ll get better the more you make.
What can listeners expect to see next from you?
My next single “haven’t been” is kinda the antithesis to solo/solong. The whole song is actually written around vocal chops taken from a sample of the chorus of solo/solong. Where solo is about the beauty in loss, haven’t been is about insecurity when everything is just starting up and you’re still in that honeymoon phase. It’s the song that inspired the whole wilter sound and project so I’m incredibly excited to finally be putting it out. Also, I’ve been building a fun little augmented reality experience to complement the song that will come out right before the release date.
wilter’s latest single, “solo/solong,” is out on all streaming platforms now. Find him on social media at @wilt.er.