We jumped at the chance to chat with the triple-voiced magic makers in The Wild Reeds for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One. During our interview, we discussed their forthcoming album The World We Built (set for release in April), the story behind their new single “Only Songs,” and their uniquely intoxicating mix of harmony vocals and multi-instrumental virtuosity.
NoiseTrade: What can you tell us about the themes and inspirations that feed into the creation of your new album The World We Built?
Mackenzie Howe: We went into the recording process with three years worth of songs but not the collective themes. However, we came out feeling like the 11 songs we put on the record all came from a place of liberation: from a tough relationship, a mindset, a patriarchal society, or even just our day jobs. In broad terms, the record is about the death of who we thought we were and the loneliness and excitement that comes with having to pave your own way while creating the reality you want to see.
NT: I was pleasantly awe-struck when I first heard your new single “Only Songs” last month. What’s the story behind the wonderfully fuzzed-out ode to musical creativity?
Howe: That song falls directly into the overall theme of the record. It’s a few years old and it feels more like a diary entry than a rock/pop song. It’s mainly about the freedom that your own creativity and music can provide – a freedom that’s more fulfilling and lasting than most other things. It also hints at the struggle of tending to your own creativity because at times it can be fussy or fragile.
NT: The dynamic vocal interplay between the three of you is quite a signature calling card for the band. How did you first find out about each other and then decide to go the harmony trio route?
Kinsey Lee: We met in college and Sharon and I started backing each other up when we would play our songs at open mic nights. We knew that harmony was something that set us apart. When Mack later tried out for the band it was with the thought that the vocal blend was one of the most important parts of the audition. She fit in really well.
NT: When deciding on who sings lead on a given song, does it just go to whoever wrote the lion’s share of the lyrics or do you occasionally write songs with each other’s voices in mind as well?
Lee: Usually it goes to the person with the most passion for the lyrics, which is usually the person who wrote the tune.
NT: I love the diverse instrumental palette (acoustic guitar, banjo, fuzzed out electrics, pump harmonium) your songs are built upon. What drives that unique instrumental mix and how do you choose what to put (and what not to put) on each song?
Sharon Silva: We usually each suggest an instrument that we’d like to hear and then figure out what the best live approach would be. The harmonium lays down a great padding for the more ethereal and emotionally intense songs. Meanwhile, it’s hard to stop buying fuzz pedals. Now we’re working with a keyboard with built in synth channels so the fun never ends!
NT: Finally, since you’ve been singing as a trio for a bit now, do you have any favorite trios you like to listen to as fans?
Wild: We got to play with The Staves this summer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and it was insane. They’re a sister group from the U.K. with some of the most thrilling and chilling harmonies. We’re big fans of our friends Dear Lemon Trees as well, who we will be playing with in New Mexico this year. Harmony is so much fun. We love listening to First Aid Kit as well. Even though they’re a duo, there’s some three-part on their records. Love it.