Interview: WILDES discusses her debut album Other Words Fail Me, what she learned about herself in the process, and what to expect next
London-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter WILDES (Ella Walker) has created quite a name for herself since her debut single ‘Bare’ in 2016. Today, the British musician is releasing her debut album Other Words Fail Me. Ten tracks deep, the album is packed with genuine moments that will leave the listener with a clear understanding of who she is. She recently took some time out of her schedule to speak with us…
The Daily Music Report: Congratulations on the release of your debut LP! It’s been a remarkable path you’ve been on since your first single ‘Bare’ in 2016. How does it feel to have your first full-length complete and available for the world to listen to?
WILDES: Thank you. It’s certainly been a long time coming. Honestly, I can’t quite believe it – so much time and love has gone in to making this LP, and I’ve overcome a huge amount throughout the making of it. It was a safe cocoon to be in, but I’m ready now and feeling very grateful to have the platform to release it, and truthfully express myself and my experiences over the last few years through this music.
In the press release for the album, it says you lived isolated in North Shields, England to write the songs for Other Words Fail Me. Is there a special connection or a particular reason North Shields was chosen?
I initially started working on this album with a producer who was based in North Shields, so we set up camp there in February 2020 and got to work – but my mental health was waning at the time, and the session was interrupted by the pandemic, so I came back to London and was never able to go back. In hindsight it was a blessing – the version of the album we were working on just didn’t feel right, and the producer I was working with stopped all communication with me once I was home. But coming back home, and being locked in that safe environment gave me the chance to write an entirely new album, and that’s what became ‘Other Words Fail Me’ – recorded later that year with my producer St Francis Hotel in east London. It immediately felt right.
Can you describe your setting and what a typical day in February 2020 looked like for you?
North Shields is a beautiful place – right on the coast, with Georgian terraces lining the streets. I spend a lot of time rather windswept, walking to and from the studio, and then along the seafront in my spare time. I was very lonely during that period, trying to work out how I could leave an abusive relationship – being in North Shields was the longest I had been away from that abusive partner in 5 years. A lot of difficult thinking was done in that dramatic setting; the sea and the extreme weather (for a Londoner!) was a fitting backdrop for a lot of the turmoil and depression I was experiencing. So, a typical day was one of frustration and rumination, combined with the excitement and pressure of recording my debut album.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the process of creating the album?
I learnt *everything* about myself. Until I made this album and wrote these songs, I had really lost myself, partly due to my own bad habits, but mainly because of the overbearing presence of my ex-partner and manager in my life. I had no trust of myself, my creativity, and no conviction that I could do anything worthwhile. Making this album was the first time since ‘Bare’ that I had full creative control and wasn’t being told what to do, or how to do it. I learnt my strengths, my weaknesses, how to express and process all the difficult emotions I had buried. I learnt how to say no, and how to assert myself professionally. Making this record taught me to love myself again – it really did change my life.
You wrote more than 40 songs in preparation for the album. Can you discuss your writing/selection process for the album?
The writing process for this album was quite boundless – I wasn’t writing with the intention of creating an album, as at the time I was still trying to make the first version of it, so I think the lack of pressure for it to ‘be’ anything was incredibly freeing. I wrote these songs for pure catharsis; the lockdown put physical distance between me and my abuser, and I felt safe enough for the first time ever to express myself, and try to work out how I felt. It was a very subconscious process, a way for me to release the pain and confusion I’d been living with for 6 years. When it came down to choosing the songs, I simply picked my favourites. Because they were all written in the same time period, they naturally made sense together. Of course I focused on songs that were catchier than others, but my main intention was for each song to communicate one of the many emotions I was experiencing.
Are there plans for a tour to promote the album? Any plans to come stateside?
I’d love to tour this album – I’m talking to promoters and agents about it and I’ll certainly be doing some more London shows this year and hopefully some festivals, but I also want to get back in the studio to start album 2! I will definitely be back in the states this year to perform – watch this space.
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