Music Spotlight: Wake The Wild

Wake The Wild is composed of Chase Jackson (bass, guitar + synth), Forrest Mitchel (drums), and Zach Sorgen (vocals). // photo by Craeg Macleod

Wake The Wild is composed of Chase Jackson (bass, guitar + synth), Forrest Mitchel (drums), and Zach Sorgen (vocals). // photo by Craeg Macleod

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a band.
Chase Jackson: Our newest single, “Numb” is simultaneously a party anthem, as well as a social commentary on modern culture of intoxication. It celebrates the fun and energy of the weekend but is self aware of the irony and paradoxes that we all embody.
Forrest Mitchell: Right now, we are really honing in on the sound. We've been able to play a few shows and test out a lot of unreleased tracks and get a better feel for what works best. As of late, we are channeling a more funky/dance vibe and really trying to capture the more live band-like sound in our recorded music.
Zach Sorgen: We had the vision for Wake The Wild long before releasing a single song. We had had a more acoustic project back in high school, and as we graduated college, we were searching to incorporate more electronic elements and more mature lyrics to reflect our new taste and our new reality. We then worked with ZEDD's engineer, but it didn't sound enough "like a band," so we shelved those songs and spent over two years crafting and honing the current sound. Finally, I think we have stumbled on something original and modern yet with a nod to the past.
I think one of our main appeals is the detail-oriented musicality. This really comes across at the live shows. Forrest's background in jazz drumming is clear from tasty fills and pocket, as well as sometimes an extended smashing drum solo. I try to nail the notes with emotion and also improvise new parts at every show, rocking the stage with signature dance moves and, I guess, a humble swag. Still a little shy, but getting back into it! Chase meanwhile switches constantly between guitar, bass, and the malletkat: a synth vibraphone played with four mallets. We have a good time playing out and this seems to translate well as we want everyone to have a good time vibing with us.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
CJ: Our sound is a blend of electronic production using vintage and modern synths with our unique live instrumentation of drums, guitar, bass, vocals, keys and synth vibraphone. We utilize a lot of unique jazz influenced chordal harmony that showcases our roots in old school R&B and funk with memorable pop-inspired melodies.
FM: Our sound is a fusion of old and modern styles with an electronic overtone. It has elements of electro-pop, funk, r&b, Chicago house, future bass, and jazz. We are really trying to create a fun, dance vibe, that also has other aspects to the overall sound. It's hard to pigeonhole, and that's how we like it. 
ZS: It is what it is. We just want to create a vibe and share the stories from our lives. Live shows we tend to play more uptempo stuff to get people moving. We don't want to be anybody else or create something that's already been created. We all met playing jazz, and it's fun to incorporate that harmonically and rhythmically–getting back to our roots.  I think our individuality comes across. Zach the singer also loves pop so the toplines tend toward catchy hooks while the production stays left of center with heavy synths and syncopations.

AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
CJ: We grew up listening to classic Prince, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye, as well as modern jazz fusion artists like Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Weather Report, but we’re also hugely influenced by modern artists like Disclosure, NAO and Oliver Nelson who fuse electronic production with organic live sounds and funky feels.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
CJ: In my opinion, Los Angeles’s greatest asset is it’s diversity and energy. Almost everyone I know is from somewhere else and is extremely talented and passionate about what they do. There’s so much variety in art, music, film, food and industry, that it’s an amazing melting pot for new ideas and cross collaboration. Ideally, we’re utilizing these unique assets as influences for our music.
FM: It plays a huge role. There are definite benefits and drawbacks to being in LA, but that goes for just about everywhere. The pluses are of course being somewhere with a million incredible producers, songwriters, musicians, and music industry professionals reside. There's a real scene here, and it's great to tap into. It can also be a bit disorienting and overwhelming, too. Getting noticed in a sea of talent can be a challenge. And of course, everyone you talk to has a different opinion as to how to be successful, so it can be hard really knowing what's best for you and when to ignore the distractions. 
ZS: LA is one of the best places on earth to be in your 20s and in music. Tons of friends are also following their passions and in the industry, so it's cool collaborating with and supporting each other. There are also a bunch of great venues we plan to rock in the coming year. We have a sweet house together and studio space on the East Side. But there is also a drive toward Top 40, which we are keen to avoid–wanting to stay true to ourselves and our vision and not follow trends.

// photo by George Karalexis

// photo by George Karalexis

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
CJ: Relationships, sexuality, fun, ambition and energy are all common threads. We really want our audiences to have a good time, and when we play live, seeing positive vibes from a dancing crowd is one of the most rewarding things. We want our positivity and energy to be contagious.
FM: Dance, fun, youth, sex.
ZS: Anything that's dope and honest. It's hard to describe, you just know when you feel it. Last summer, we went on a wild Eurotrip including a stop in southern Italy. I had studied there during my semester abroad, and there was one insane night we had to write about. Specchia was the original rough title for Touch The Ground, remembering that elevated feeling, celebrating life and being together. Numb takes a kind of ironic stance on how we rage every weekend, celebrating life but we feel terrible the next day, and alcohol is technically a depressant, so in a way it's kind of to forget the workweek.

 

 

We really want our audiences to have a good time, and when we play live, seeing positive vibes from a dancing crowd is one of the most rewarding things. We want our positivity and energy to be contagious.

 

 

AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
CJ: Disclosure, NAO, Oliver Nelson, Thundercat, Anderson Paak, Laura Mvula, Snarky Puppy, The Weeknd & Daft Punk are all consistent inspiration and influences. Michael Jackson is hard to beat though!
FM: Right now, I've been listening to a lot of Kaytranada, Anderson .Paak, Empire of the Sun, and NAO. I feel like all of these artists are really strong in their personal identities and are creating some fire shit in their own right. Talent and originality pour from every aspect of their projects. I respect originality so much, especially when it is coming from a place of pure talent and hard work.
ZS: NAO

AM: How did you land on the name "Wake The Wild"?
CJ: I played a one-off show at an event called “Awaken The Wild.” Since that concert never occurred again, we decided to utilize and alter that name to fit our new band. The name speaks to the energy we strive for in our music and live performances. We want our audiences to feel like they are fully engulfed in the music and free to open up to the moment through participation.

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
CJ: We have a music studio in the back of the house where we all live. It’s completely crammed full of instruments and recording gear. We spend pretty much every weeknight from 7pm to 1am or so there jamming, producing and writing new music. We affectionally call it “The Chateau” or “The Bunker” depending on where we are in the music process, (haha)!
FM: I'm a firm believer in the idea that half of practicing is listening. Where do I do most of my music listening? Blasting music in my car in LA traffic. I learn so much about how different artists produce and piece together their music. I'll hear different mixing textures, or production ideas, or hone in on lyrical themes and how they intersect with melody. As long as I'm not late, I don't mind long drives because it's my personal time to just swim in music. 
ZS: Yosemite

AM: Whats the best advice you’ve ever received?
CJ: Hmmm, Great question. Because we listen to, like and are capable of making music in so many different kinds of music from so many eras and traditions, sometimes it’s been hard to know exactly what to create. After a few false starts with different sounds, a number of musicians and friends encouraged us to focus on making music that we really, truly enjoy listening to and playing rather than appealing to current trends. Our intent is that if we make what we think is the best product possible by our standards, then it will stand for itself and others will enjoy it, as well! 
FM: Nobody knows anything.
ZS: Persistence.

Listen to Wake The Wild's latest track Numb on SoundCloud or Spotify:

Posted on April 12, 2017 .