Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Wye Oak

Wye Oak

Baltimore indie folk-rock duo Wye Oak is comprised of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner. Together, the band recently released their fourth studio album Shriek on April 29th (via Merge Records). Before its release, the lovely Jenn Wasner took the time to speak with us about onomatopoeia, evolving as a band, punk-funk freaks, and Backstreet Boys. Here’s what she had to say:

AMBY: Hello Wye Oak, thanks for speaking with us today. What have you been up to lately?

Wye Oak: We just got home from playing Coachella, which was fun. Now we’re resting and trying to get ready for the next batch of touring–our record comes out next week!

AMBY: How would you describe each other in one word?

Wye Oak: I can’t really speak for Andy, but I will say that regarding our roles in the band I think of myself as “empath” and Andy as “technician”–I work in the realm of intangibles, and Andy is excellent at understanding and translating those ideas into realities.

AMBY: You soon release your record Shriek. What’s the significance behind the record’s title?

Wye Oak: I knew I wanted a word, an onomatopoeia, that conjured an instinctive, deep-seated, animalistic response. Writing songs, for me, is a very intuition-based process. It’s catharsis. But I had trapped myself in a feedback loop of over-think, and I had backed myself into a corner with it, creatively. Eventually, I remembered how to find my way back to a simpler, more instinctive place. You can have a shriek of joy, or a shriek of terror–but overall, it comes from a very vulnerable place, where your deepest wordless feelings and desires are being brought into voice.

AMBY: How do you feel you’ve evolved as a band since your 2011 release Civilian?

Wye Oak: In every way imaginable! We’re totally different people now, with totally different lives. It makes sense that our music would change to reflect that.

AMBY: Which other artists from Baltimore should our readers check out?

Wye Oak: There are the ones you’ve probably heard of–Dan Deacon, Beach House, Future Islands, Lower Dens, etc–but there are a million others. One of my favorite Baltimore bands (disclosure–I’ve actually done 2 tours with this band as their hired-gun bassist) is experimental/just-intonated/punk-funk freaks Horse Lords.

AMBY: What do you do for fun when you aren’t making music?

Wye Oak: There are other things that are fun? I must have missed the boat on that. Haha! Just kidding. I like jokes. I joke around with my hilarious friends for fun. I read books and watch movies. I do yoga. I go to cool shows and plays in Baltimore and see people who kick ass at what they do.

AMBY: What was the first record you bought, and do you feel that album had an influence on your music?

Wye Oak: Um, probably Backstreet Boys or Ace of Base or something like that? I was a child. I liked pop music; I still do.  The thing about “influence” is that you are influenced by every single thing you hear, see, or experience–every day, constantly, for your entire life. So, yes?

AMBY: Where would your dream concert take place and who would be in the line-up?

Wye Oak: Arthur Russell, Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Guided By Voices. I don’t know where, but there would be trees, and a pond, it would be warm but not hot, and I would be on drugs.

AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about Wye Oak that nobody knows yet?

Wye Oak: Whatever it is, it’s probably not very interesting. (Zing!)


Thank you Wye Oak, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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