Wild Nothing interview: “A sense of urgency.”

09.05.10, Words by: Ruth Saxelby

We live our lives in cycles. Ruled by seasons and waves of swirling emotions, forever chasing our tails trying to get somewhere. Every so often an album comes along that frames that ebb and flow, one that doesn’t shout for attention but slowly seeps into our consciousness, lending poignancy to mundane moments and gathering deeper resonance with every listen. ‘Gemini’, the debut record from Virginia’s WILD NOTHING, is one of those albums.

Jack Tatum is the man behind WILD NOTHING. His music drifts somewhere between Shoegaze and Dream Pop, creating a highly personal, insular world in which gazing and dreaming are recurrent themes. On the opening to the lush, layered Witching Hour, he sings: ‘I’ll be in heaven / when I walk out of my door tonight / driving to nowhere / I’m slipping through a tunnel of light.’ A sighing nostalgia hangs heavy in the air, although never in a stifling way. Confirmation (download it above) basks in the blurry glow of days gone by – and as the replays mount up, the same sensation and process is sparked. Listening to WILD NOTHING is to feel soothed, reflective, hopeful.

While parallels can be drawn with other artists channeling nostalgia – Active Child (interviewed here) who takes it to an otherworldly euphoric level and Summer Camp (interviewed here) who look back through a Pop lens – it’s the comparisons with The Cure’s urgent yearning that feel most resonant. The mood and motif of The Forest wouldn’t feel out of place next to WILD NOTHING’s title track Gemini. In the run up to its release on Captured Tracks on June 1st, I dropped a couple of questions to Jack via email.

I find your music so emotional. What drives you to write songs?

I think I write songs because I need to. I don’t really mean as like therapy or anything, though I have written songs like that, but more than anything I think it just comes from a need to get ideas out of my head. I pretty much live for music. I listen to music all day long and it’s like I study it almost. I always get ideas and question why certain groups or artists do something the way they have. I think the emotion in my music comes from me liking songs that have a sense of urgency to them. It’s hard for me to get into something if I don’t feel like it’s coming from somewhere meaningful. It definitely effects what I look for when I’m writing a song. I want people to listen to my music and feel like there is some substance behind it, you know?

There is something very natural feeling about your music. Are you a country or city person?

Thanks. I’m probably more of a town person than either of those haha. Well where I live now is pretty well in the middle of nowhere. It’s more country than anything really, very beautiful landscapes once you get out of the town. I grew up in Williamsburg, VA though which isn’t really country or city. Just a small colonial town. Goofy place. But I’m just kind of rambling, aren’t I? I do think living in a more quiet environment has made my music more mellow and atmospheric. There must be something about the history in Virginia that makes me a nostalgic person. I don’t think city people are quite as into that.

Do you work entirely on your own or do you ever collaborate?

I love playing music with other people, but when it comes to recording I kind of have to work entirely on my own. I get very specific visions and I’m usually too excited about them to be able to explain them to anyone else and I think I get frustrated pretty easily working with other people haha. I guess it sounds kind of snobbish, but I just feel like I make a lot of compromises that I wouldn’t normally make if other people are involved. Maybe one day I will be able to let other people in on that but for now I find it easier to do things myself.

‘Gemini’ is out on June 1st on Captured Tracks. Go buy it.

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Like this? Check out our interview with Beach House from earlier this year.