Wye Oak Get Louder For The Long Run

Friday 13th, July 2018 / 13:25
By Emily Corley

VANCOUVER – Wye Oak are a band who have endured the many years and incarnations of the indie folk-rock scene with a steady authenticity. Their enchanting brand of scuzzy dream pop, experimentally ethereal electronic soundscapes and quietly beautiful songwriting have earned them consistently good reviews. At this point, the duo has been making music together for over a decade, “We’ve known each other since we were actual teenagers. We’re family to each other – it’s all love, but we also bicker like siblings,” laughs Jenn Wasner, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist. “It’s impossible for that not to be the kind of relationship you have when you’ve been around someone for literally most of your life, doing this job 24 hours a day and travelling all over the place. Your guard drops with people who feel like family in the way that it doesn’t with anyone else, and sometimes that means all politeness evaporates.”

“We have like eight different tours on the books. I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. We’re getting older and it’s tough,” Wasner sighs with half-joking exasperation. “We’re doing more on this record, tour-wise, than we have in a really long time. And honestly, it’s pretty difficult for me personally, physically and psychologically to keep up with it. So I will probably be the craziest version of myself. But there’s always at least one moment when I look out and I’m just completely amazed and grateful that people are excited to see the things I’m doing and the songs that I’ve made. That always shines through, even when we’re sort of in the daily grind of it all.” Despite years of successful touring experience, Wasner admits to harbouring some trepidation about their undoubted success as a live act. “I think it’s my tendency to feel like nobody will come until proven otherwise. But it’s amazing to me that we are able to just turn up and play to people who have paid money to come and see us!”

The emotional scope for this record is as ambitious as the band’s epic tour schedule. The new album, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, is proving to be an almost-unintentional psychological enigma. “When I came up with the idea, in my mind it meant I’m being chased, but the louder I call, the easier it is for my pursuer to find me. But when I told Andy (Stack), his immediate reaction was: I’m trying to get something but the more I strive for it, the farther away it gets. I’ve been pitching it to people to see which of those associations they fall into. Because both are equally accurate and valid. I think it just depends on where people are in their lives, whether they’re feeling like they need to fill their lives with something or they need to have their own boundaries protected. I could definitely do some completely unqualified armchair psychology but I don’t think that’s what anyone wants from me!”

In all seriousness though, Wasner feels a strong emotional connection to the music she writes and her determination to elicit a poignant response in her audience is very clear on this latest offering, with heartfelt refrains such as “You can have everything, and still you have nothing,” and “Only human hate could give us something so unforgiving.”

“In writing a song, I’m not just thinking about capturing my own experience for myself. You have to learn how to leave space for someone else in there. Where there are enough specifics that it feels real and honest to someone, but enough space that they can also find themselves in it. My creative practice is the way that I process my experience and make sense of my life, but it’s not important that it’s autobiographical, it’s important that it accomplishes its emotional end, for everyone who listens to it.”

Wye Oak perform at the Biltmore on July 14.