Carl Marsh hears from Devan Glover – British-raised, Toronto-based frontwoman of indie-folk hot tips Wild Rivers – about their current activities, influences and new album Sidelines.
Recently you’ve been touring around North America playing your latest EP Songs To Break Up To and previous releases… were you not tempted to play new LP Sidelines [still to be released at the time of this interview] just in case the world shuts down again?
Devan Glover, Wild Rivers: Yeah, we thought about it. But to be completely honest with you, we just didn’t have time to learn all of the library [laughs]. We had the whole last EP to learn because we hadn’t been in a room together playing music for so long. So, it’d be overwhelming to learn 15 completely new songs, plus the old ones. Plus, there are new band members.
So we’re going to save the whole album for 2022. But we did try out a few of the new songs on that tour, to see how they go.
The new record sounds to me like a good mix of pop, indie rock, and folk. I like how you’ve got elements of the different genres in there – it must be reflective of differing tastes in the band?
Thank you! Yeah, I think we all grew up with pretty diverse tastes, but always converging on the singer-songwriter core of the music. But we all love indie rock. I grew up in the UK, so a lot of British rock music was really in my roots. Andrew [Oliver, guitar and bass] kind of grew up on hip-hop; Khalid [Yassein, vocals and guitar] grew up on more traditional band, singer-songwriter folk. And then we all love rap, we all love r’n’b.
I think we’ve tried to take elements from the genres that we love and see if we can incorporate them in a way that feels natural to the songs – as long as it feels like the songs can stand alone, just on a guitar and with vocals. And we dress them up in a bunch of different ways and see what feels authentic. We definitely tried to take more sonic risks on this one. It was fun to see what felt good and what worked.
Was Sidelines a case of getting the songs recorded, no matter how they turned out – giving you a selection of potentials for the album? Or did you want to write the album a certain way, with songs tying into an overall theme?
That’s a good question. We definitely had a lot of songs to choose from going into the album. Our process is kind of a big writing period – we just write a lot, then we demo them out in a way that we can listen through the whole thing. I think we had about 40 songs on the shortlist. And then we definitely did try and find ones that felt like they were a project – were meant to live together. Some that we still love didn’t make the album – they didn’t feel like the right tone.
From there, it was stripping those back, finding ways to create themes throughout the songs, and making the tracklist feel like an emotional journey of sorts. It was fun to step back and try and look at it from a ‘bigger picture’ place – to be able to create a world around it and then go from there – compared to making an EP or putting out some single where it’s very hyperfocused on specific songs.
Wild Rivers’ Sidelines is out now on Nettwerk. Info: www.wildriversmusic.com
words CARL MARSH
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