Week in Pop: Micah E. Wood, Palace Doctor, WAJU

Sjimon Gompers

The rise of international pop futurist—WAJU; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Micah E. Wood

Up close & personal with Baltimore musician/photographer Micah E. Wood; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Baltimore, Maryland artist Micah E. Wood has been cooking up something special in recent weeks & months. A musician & photographer [who has previously done freelance photography work here at Impose] presents the world premiere for the Louis Vieira directed video for “Without You”, featured off the upcoming solo album See Me available September 22 that features fellow Bmore luminaries like Joy Postell, :3lON, Al Rogers Jr., 83 Cutlass, JPEGMAFIA, Dyyo Faccina & Eyas. From focuses that center around the DIY might of sounds, sensations & visions—the visuals for “Without You” find Micah partaking in the various local activities from bike riding, gym sessions, public transit, moped mischief & more that are all centered around the song’s glorious chorus that sings out; I feel alive without you…

Micah E. Wood’s expression of absolute freedom from toxic relationships is lifted upward to stratospheres of elation that defies description. Courtesy of director, Louis Vieira & the visual A-team comprised of Anna Vieira, Daniel Regner, Kevin Granger, Storyfarm & Ronin Wood—Micah takes his sweet strolling Baltimore street-beats to Leakin Park, turning tight ones on the Carroll Park Golf Course, taking it to the treadmills, or just a leisurely reflective ride courtesy of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. From classic tram lifts to dog strolls & solo walks & rides; Micah marks the passage of moving forward with a joyful & healthy sense of self-care & indulgences. This involves trying out the latest hover boards, in-line skating sprees, epic bike rides, mini-train lifts, to super-market shopping for one—the feeling of being both alive & gladly alone & alright with oneself outside of an unfit relationship is seen in both sight & Wood’s song that rejoices in an anthem of pure liberty. The minimalist drum beats & synths sweep the entire narrative of its feet as Micah gets re-acquainted with receiving what is an entirely a new lease on life as the artist pursues the person they want to be. Join us after the video debut for “Without You” for an insightful conversation with Micah E. Wood.

From behind the lens to behind the soundboard; tell us about how you have found a connection between the disciplines of your photography to making music.

I’ve been playing music since I was 4 or 5, starting with the violin. My dad always tried to get me to practice and sent me to private lessons but I just never felt good enough (probably from the not practicing). I started piano when I was 12 and I loved it but fell off of that until I was 16. Which is oddly enough when I started photography. Photography and music have always been the only two things I’ve felt like I am good at. I use both mediums to put me in a place where I never have to stop making art. My friends think I’m crazy sometimes because I just don’t stop. For me photography captures what I see and what I want the world to see and music captures what I feel.

Give us insights about what the making of your album See Me was like.

In the past, I always wrote starting with my piano (it’s a Casio-tone that used to be my Grandpa’s) but this record started differently. All these songs except one or two started as beats first. After my last record came out one of my favorite Baltimore singers Bobbi Rush asked me to produce an EP for her. We spent a few months working on the songs together, all of them starting from beats. The process of working with her really pushed me stylistically and production-wise. So when I started writing this record I challenged myself to make beats every night for a month. Not every night was a success, and probably only 2 beats from that month made the record, but that month of making random beats helped me figure out the sound I was going for.

An intimate Polaroid of Micah E. Wood; photographed by Rachael Hulme.

From treadmills, trams, bicycles, mopeds & more; walk us through the creation of the Louis Vieira video for “Without You”.

The video started with a meeting over coffee with Louis and my friend Kevin Granger (who introduced me to Louie years ago). They came to me with this idea of a music video where ever shot was in motion, featuring many different vehicles. After the meeting it turned into a group chat for coming up with ideas for most extreme and silly vehicles we could acquire (it ended up more on the silly side because I mean look at me I can’t exactly handle ‘extreme’) I did have to figure out how to skate again for this, try and learn how to use a hover board for the first time, and ride a very non street-ready old moped, so I lived a responsible amount of extreme! Having to learn new things to make this video happen was a lot of fun, and really felt like it fit the theme of the song.

Tell us too how local Baltimore musicians such as Joy Postell, 83 Cutlass, Eyas, Al Rogers Jr., JPEGMAFIA, Dyyo Faccina, :3lON, & more contributed to the album & what kind of impact they have had.

I’m so lucky that some of my all time favorite artists agreed to be on this record. They all came by my home studio and worked on the parts with me and wrote amazing verses, and in some instances gave suggestions on altering the parts of the songs they were in. Special shout out here to Eyas, she does all the female backing vocals that you hear on this record and my last record too. She has been pushing me musically since the start of our friendship 3 years ago, expect a debut release from her in 2018, I personally can’t wait!

The one & only Micah E. Wood; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Other local events & artists & activists we should know about?

Blush and Brews is my favorite Baltimore event series at this moment, it’s about beauty and femininity it’s a very powerful and fun free dance party every month here in Baltimore! Also check out 808: The Sadboi Series!

One of my favorite things about Baltimore is its hard to make such a list of favorite local artists because there is so much amazing talent, here is a short list:

Bobbi Rush, Butch Dawson, Blacksage, Abdu Ali, Wing Dam, Natural Velvet, :3lON, Joy Postell, Dyyo Faccina, JPEGMAFIA, Eze Jackson, Future Islands, Infinity Knives & Randi, Gusher, Purrer, Beach House, Eyas, Trillnatured, Albert Bagman, Hex Girlfriends, Station North SadBoi, TT The Artist, 83 Cutlass, Eu-IV, Movakween, Jacob Marley—so many more!

The cover for Micah E. Wood’s album See Me.

Other artists that are currently inspiring you?

Kanye West, Jack Antonoff, Lorde, Rostam, Sylvan Esso, Rex Orange County, Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean.

Future events from photography to music & more that we should be hipped to?

I created/curate an event series called SAD it happens 4 times a year. I think it’s hard performing sad songs sometimes because it can feel like such a burden, with this event the audience knows exactly what they are getting into…and usually, leaves happy. Something about being in a room full of people experiencing sad music together is very therapeutic. Sad Vol. 4 is September 22 at The Crown, and it’s also going to be my record release show!

Another cool event series is called Nisa/Women that goes on at my day job Creative Alliance. It’s a series that will be happening until the end of the 2018 spotlighting Muslim women in the arts. The first event is Arooj Aftab with Baltimore’s Zomes on October 6 at The Creative Alliance.

Micah E. Wood’s album See Me will be available September 22 across all platforms.

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