Photo credit: Elaine Miller

Wild Skies – From Far Below

We first experienced “love at first listen” with the Chicago-based band, Wild Skies, back in February with a review of the first single off their upcoming debut album. Well, just when you thought you were recovering from their addictive sound, Wild Skies is about to cause a relapse because that first single, “Fumes & Faith” was just the tip of the iceberg when diving into those trademark harmonies and storytelling songs on their debut album, From Far Below.

“Please Take Me Back” has a feel of desperation as they beg “don’t give up on me now” with emotional vocals and the percussion bringing an extra dramatic characteristic. The verses of this track have a delicate, sad undertone, but when the chorus comes in, the members of Wild Skies take their desperation up a notch to get their point across with their powerful harmonies.

Lead female vocalist, Kristine Sorum-Williams, really shows off her impressive “don’t mess with me” vocals as the star of the funkier and bluesy “Black Water.” Listeners will feel like they’re sitting along the bayou with the sounds of the banjo, piano, and Kristine’s soulful voice.

“Carry On” is a positive, uplifting track with all the ingredients of an anthem-type song that could hit the top of the radio charts with it’s catchy beat and sing along lyrics. It’s all about being there for someone in need, encouraging them to keep their chin up through the tough times, which is a song most of us could use these days.

As promised, Wordkrapht is bringing you more music from Wild Skies with their debut album, From Far Below. We also have the pleasure of providing you with an exclusive interview with the band so you can get to know Wild Skies a little more and fall deeper in love with them. Enjoy!

Word on the street is that Wild Skies came together from an ad Aaron put on Craigslist searching for musicians to help with studio work. You ended up with an eclectic group with an opera trained singer (Kristine), jazz bassist (Tommy), and a folk drummer (Andy). Was there anything in particular that helped them “make the cut?”

That’s true, though they weren’t the first ones to respond, and with CL you definitely have to sift through some mud to find the gold. I think it worked because we all just got along really well, and everyone brought really great musical ability. We’ve gone through a few lineup changes but the four of us have always stuck it out, and a big part of that is that we are just good friends, and everyone sort of has their specialty. We all work really well together, not just musically but socially. Andy (drummer) was the last one to join, and he wrote a five paragraph response about his influences and what he’s done musically, with links to videos, etc. He sold me with just his pure level of enthusiasm, so I’m glad he could actually play!

Did you have any bizarre or interesting responses to the Craigslist ads?
We’ve had a few instances where we know it isn’t a good fit in the first five minutes, but we don’t want to be mean so we sort of wade through it for an hour or so until it’s time to go. I’ve learned that people throw around the term “classically trained” sort of loosely. And I’ve also learned that 90% of Chicago craigslist musicians want to start a metal band. I guess it’s the cold winters?

After bringing together Kristine, Tommy, and Andy, at what point did you decide to go from a solo artist to a four piece group?
I think I always wanted it to be a band, but was having so much trouble getting players together that the solo thing happened out of necessity. Most players either weren’t that into the music I was writing, or were “jobbers” as we call them in Chicago, just guys playing in ten different bands making a living that way. Those guys want money, and I didn’t have it, so it was tough. It worked out meeting Kristine and some other folks while the first EP was still being made, because it gave me a chance to put it out under a band name instead of the solo name. Then, once Tommy and Andy came on board, I was glad we had the EP out under the band name already, because we didn’t have to rush to get back into the studio as a band. If we had, I think we would have made a very different record (From Far Below), and we wouldn’t have been as happy with it.

How did you come up with the band name, Wild Skies?
There is a metro park where I grew up called Wildwood, and I used to love that place. I had that name in mind, but we found another band that was already using it. I still really liked the “wild” part of it, and came up with The Wild Skies, and Kristine suggested we remove the “The” so we did and it stuck. The others didn’t really have a choice! Naming a band can be really tough, because you want it to represent your music, but really, I think it’s the music that represents the name. So you have to just pick something to doesn’t sound too dumb and go with it.

What are each band member’s personal musical influences? Does the Wild Skies sound come from any particular influence of music from the past or present?
It’s a little bit of everything. Myself and Andy really bonded initially over The Band and Bob Dylan. And we’re all hip to more recent indie, folk, and pop music, so I think we try to meld that all together. We also all love instrumental bands like Snarky Puppy and Lettuce. The biggest thing for us is just writing with the tools we have, working out how we can best use our harmonies, Kristine’s powerful voice, Tommy’s creative jazz bass influences, and Andy’s percussive feel.

What’s the songwriting process like for Wild Skies? Do you all collaborate together? Does it start with a topic for a song? Does the music or lyrics come first?
I write most of the songs’ music first, with sort of gibberish vocal melody and rhythms, then I go back with a notebook and work out the words. Sometimes there is a set idea or story to tell, but other times the story sort of comes out as I’m writing it. Sometimes the song tells me what it’s about instead of vice versa, which is weird, but somehow it works. On “Black Water,” I had this guitar line in my head for over a year, and Kristine wrote the words to it and just completely made it her own. We all worked through that one for a while instrumentally before we were happy with it. Collaboratively, I usually work out a song idea and lyrics and then bring it to the group and we work through it together. Everyone will add their parts and we’ll give each other ideas and try different things until it feels right.

A lot of the songs on From Far Below have a storytelling vibe to them. Do any of these songs come from personal experiences from any members of the band?
I think they all in a way come from a personal experience, maybe not a specific event, but definitely a feeling we’ve experienced. “Fumes & Faith” is specifically about the year my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I first moved to Chicago. And Kristine’s personality really comes out in “Black Water” in the strong female character. Outside of that, I think the magic of songs is that they can be different things to different people, so I try to let them be that.

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If there was one musician or band that Wild Skies could tour with, who would it be?
That is really tough! I think musically, we all really dig The Head and The Heart, and that could be a good fit where it’s different enough to be interesting, but we could entertain similar crowds.

Do you have any advice for fellow indie musicians who are trying to make a career in the music industry?
Don’t quit! If you have that deep pull to be creative, keep at it, because it will always be there, and it would be a real waste to not use it. I’m not in any place to be giving advice really, but my own advice to my younger self would be always be trying to get better.

After the official release of your debut album, From Far Below, what’s next for Wild Skies? Is there a plan for a tour in the future?
We’re going to be playing a ton, mostly regionally in the next few months, but we’re working on planning a string of east coast dates in the near future. We’ve also been writing a ton, so we’re hoping to get back into the studio later this year.

 

Far From Below will be released April 14th . For those in the Chicago area, Wild Skies will be hosting their album release show at the Tonic Room on April 21st.

Rating: 5 stars!

Artist Name: Wild Skies
Album Name: From Far Below
Release Date: April 14, 2017
Location: Chicago, IL
Genre: folk, Americana
Members: Aaron Lechlak (vocals, guitar), Kristine Sorum-Williams (vocals), Tommy Good (vocals, double bass), and Andy Kearns (percussion)
Website: http://wildskiesmusic.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wildskiesmusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildskiesmusic