Having just released their second album Are You Ok? in less than a full calendar year Wasuremono’s brainchild William Southward doesn’t seem stuck for ideas. Kindly William allowed us exclusive access to his shed to learn about how his ideas come together before later becoming the work of the Wasuremono.
Hi, how are you? Or more topically Are You Ok? Your second album Are You Ok? has just dropped, how are you and the band feeling right now?
Pretty relieved to finally release the album into the world, these songs have been a long time in the making and really happy with the response it’s been getting so far. The lead track “Are You OK?” already has had a million streams on Spotify which is huge for us!
When do the band start to get involved in the productions from your ideas? How does the song writing process in Wasuremono work?
“If [Wasuremono’s keys player Madeline] taps her foot or dances I know it’s a keeper!”
I’m a solitary composer and write and record all of the songs from scratch. I need that creative space to myself, so that I can let my mind wonder and experiment freely. Some of the best ideas can come from happy accidents and the first recordings and first takes mostly end up as the basis of the final song. I think there is always a magic in that first take that can be hard to replicate when you try to re-record it later down the line.
It’s not until the end of the process when the songs are written, and I have the sound/vibe down that I’m after, that I’ll start to bring the band in to record bits. Having said that, Madelaine (keys/backing vocals) does hear all the songs from a very early stage and tells me what’s good and what’s not… If she taps her foot or dances I know it’s a keeper!
Last year you released your debut album Something Left Behind, yet you’re already back with your follow up; how did Are You Ok? manage to come around so quickly?
“I’m already onto album number 3 and have an album worth already but will continue to write and replace top contenders with new tunes.”
As I have my own studio the writing never stops, it’s my favourite part of the process creating new songs and something that luckily at the moment comes very easily. I never have to wait around for other people’s schedules, I can get on with it in my own time. I’m already onto album number 3 and have an album worth already but will continue to write and replace top contenders with new tunes. I then choose which ones to finish.
So, your shed, it seems to be Wasuremono’s HQ, can you give us as best guided tour as you can of the shed and its contents?
“I could give you a gear list rundown, but it would make me look like a hoarder.”
You enter through some hobbit style double doors, its rammed full of old guitars, amps and synths. Its separated into two rooms, the control room where I write and mix and the main room where we rehearse and record live drums and piano. I could give you a gear list rundown, but it would make me look like a hoarder. I have over 30 guitars and I think I have a problem… They have all been recorded though at least once.
If the shed was on fire (I promise we’re not going to start one), what would you run in to save and why?
My 1963 guild T-50 which is literally used on every recording I have ever made. It has an old Franz P-90 in it and I don’t need to mic up an amp it sounds great DI’d. The other thing I’d grab between my legs is my Linn LM-1, the drum machine that keeps on giving. This thing has written so many songs and made it a real joy at the same time.
A lot of Are You Ok? seems rooted in the exact basslines leading us to believe that this may be your primary instrument, can you tell us about your musical upbringing?
Haha well its funny because my primary instrument is guitar, I’m really fond of detuning my Guild T-50 down low with heavy gauge 13 flatwounds. That’s what you are hearing mostly! Some of the recordings people comment on the bass line, but there is no bass guitar in some of those “bass led tracks” its all harmonized detuned guitar and that’s how its written, I love a good riff but its never written on a bass. I do sometimes back the parts up with some bass but the sound flatwounds give is very similar timbre to bass guitar. I was brought up learning a lot of blues records though. I started gigging in my teens in a blues rock band covering Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Robert Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Its funny how some of those blues twinges are coming through on some of the recordings!
The musical tones on Are You Ok? feel like polar opposites to your previous album, we’ve read that the Linn Drum was pivotal to the way the beats were produced on Are You Ok? but was brought about the very differing sound qualities in the rest of the instrumentation?
“It’s free for all and anything goes in my shed!”
The Linn Drum computer was hugely influential to the sound of this record, and it’s 80’s sound basically just backed up what was already there sound wise. With many of the songs on this album I would start with a riff and then programme in a drum beat to compliment it, or sometimes I would start by programming in a drum beat and then write riffs to it. This was how the single ‘Are You Ok?’ was born. At one point I just felt like programming in a really stupidly fast drum beat on the Linn to try and write the most pumping pop tune I could. It’s really hectic, but I wrote a riff that worked and then ended up writing lots of different sections, until it all came together. Sometimes if I struggle to write lyrics to a second verse or get bored of the same melody I just write new ones. You hear that a lot on these songs, there is no set structure it’s free for all and anything goes in my shed!
When did you realise that Are You Ok? would have the lyrical themes it does, did you intend this album to have a collective feeling and how did the collection come about?
It was completely un-intentional, it may sound weird, but I write the music first and then record vocal melodies over the music without any set lyrics. I then listen to demo’s of “hooks” that I really like and mostly interpret the vocal sounds and melodies into lyrics by kind of subconsciously listening to them. The fact that most of these lyrics were written like that and they all have a running theme is pretty strange. I definitely was thinking of what I was wanting it to be about at the time though as each song reflects a period of that year and what I was thinking and feeling. I feel like I write lyrics that I need at that moment in time, sometimes they feel like a pep talk to myself, but hope they can also reassure the listener too.
It could feel that producing and recording your album yourself leads to the tendency to never finish it, how do you know when to stop and that the album is finished?
Writing, producing and recording all of your own music isn’t that healthy on the mind, I think if we had a budget I would get someone else to mix the songs, but I feel that the song and the production is the most important thing I want to get across at this point. I’m quite precious of the sound I’ve been pouring into people ears for the last 6 years and I think every record has been improving sonically. I upgrade my studio after every release and look to improve every time. It’s great our audience has grown after every release to reflect this. I guess I know when I’ve finished a record when I have to accept that’s how the song should sound, I’m not always after the perfect take just that it carries that special vibe and captures a moment in time. I hope the listener can get excited in thinking they are hearing the first idea of something and the recording captures that. I don’t want all of the recordings to be perfect just that they capture that first dream.
With 2 albums in 2 years what’s next for Wasuremono?
“I have about 40 more songs of B sides I’ve stashed for when I’m old and rubbish at writing bangerz.”
I have a baby on the way I’m thinking of writing an album of new nursery rhymes to aid in the sleep of said child. Also I’ve already started album number 3 and its sounding awesome. I have about 40 more songs of B sides I’ve stashed for when I’m old and rubbish at writing bangerz.