San Diego's 'swag-rock' pioneers DUDES are setting sail out toward the great horizon, as frontman Ryan Solomon re-brands himself in Merlin's robe as, Wizard Woes. For years now, Solomon has rode the various digital sub-genre waves as evident in the DUDES archives that counts releases like Narcissists Anonymous, #RARE, Summer Vacation, EDEA, amongst its catalog; keeping the chemistry sets brewing in order to breakthrough with a new audio alchemy. And like San Diego's continuous movement and development of garage and bedroom projects, Wizard Woes address the pop evolutions understood from the DUDES-era and elaborates with a larger intuition of sound that heralds from the forthcoming epochs. As Ryan explained to us in our featured discussion regarding the new name and the woes of wizards; they are “deeper than the concerns of mortals.”
In a first listen to this new fresh new project, the debut of “Pretty Nice Eyes” flutters like an unidentified hovering object of desire coming in for a smooth landing. The pretty-eyed world becomes an alliterative lyrical wonderland where an infatuated and auto-tuned delivery describes the attractive attributes of, “a pretty lucky girl.” The underground analog and digitized tech from the days of DUDES is taken to a larger stage, where anything can happen, and a natural bliss passes freely through the vocal effects, and keys that sparkle like the crystals of a mystic cavern. The electro-pop diamonds are refined from the rough to the prismatic faces and dimensions of a sound that swims through the sensations from indie Sweden, Toronto, London, Paris, Brooklyn, to San Diego spa-springs of home-made aural-architecture. Solomon utilizes the wisdom of Wizard Woes to tap into a universal chord of happiness, with more magic held within the mysterious cloaked sleeves soon to be cast in all directions.
From the mouth of Ryan Solomon himself, we give you the exclusive words on moving on from DUDES and the exciting new beginnings with Wizard Woes.
Tell us what feels different for you working in DUDES to Wizard Woes.
Even though the difference is subtle, DUDES was a band where I primarily wrote the music, and Wizard Woes is a bona fide solo project. When I would write for DUDES, I would envision it being performed by a four piece band, and arrange the songs based on that restriction. With Wizard Woes I'm allowing myself the freedom to just do whatever the hell I want.
What prompted, Wizard Woes, and how did that awesome name come about?
It had been a couple of months since the DUDES band had dissolved, and I was showing a friend some of the tracks I was working on, and he was the first to put the idea in my head of starting fresh and re-branding with a new name. It was a really hard choice to make, to move on from DUDES, but I gave it enough time and my gut knew it was the right thing to do. It's kind of like when you go through a break up, and you rush into a new relationship instead of giving yourself the time you need to learn who you are and make peace with yourself. I basically did that when I started DUDES, but I figured this time it'd be smarter to take some time off and really figure out what kind of music I wanted to make.
As for the name, I forgot how I initially thought of it, but it just felt right. I'm a big fan of Tolkien, and the way he portrays wizards in Middle Earth. It's like, most characters are focused on petty struggles, while wizards are focused on problems that are thousands of years in the making. A Wizard Woe is much deeper than the concerns of mortals.
The music you create under this moniker is incredible, from the bright lo-tech, big sound brightness claustrophobia of “Too Many People”, to the near perfection dance pop alchemy of “Pretty Nice Eyes”. What do you attribute these directions to in their variation and often leaning toward a sonic bliss?
Thanks! I like the way you describe it. It's kind of hard to pin point certain elements because they've been 'works in progress' for so long. In December I was listening to a lot of Spectrum and Spacemen 3, and that probably inspired the dreamy sounds. Around that time I had Loveless on repeat a lot too, and that inspired me to take out my distortion pedal and create the wall of sound. But really my technique with music is just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks; its not a very calculated process.
There is a Euro tape vibe that bounces with Balearic grooves, and also echoes the US underground of various audio experimenters. What other kinds of sounds do you have in the works?
The songs I'm working on right now are much more minimal, in a less is more kind of way. It's hard because my approach to making songs has always been 'more is more.' The house beats are definitely staying. In the future I want to highlight more guitar playing, but for now I'm just focused on crafting vibes that sound unique.
Releases in the pipelines?
I'm working on a full length right now but I've learned not to try and give myself a deadline. I have a handful of songs ready to go, and 30 or so demos. Once the right 10 songs come together in a way I'm happy with I'll drop it. Until then I'll hopefully be dropping a few songs at a time and some music videos.
Finish the full length. Play a couple shows. Do some remixes. Go to the beach. Hang out with babes. Go to work a lot. You know, normal people stuff.
What has been essential spring listening over there in the Wizard Woes camp?
I've been listening to nothing but the Frank Ocean album for the past two weeks, it's my third time re-getting into it, its just too good. Elvis Costello is great in the morning. The new Stephen Malkmus has been on heavy rotation since I saw him a month ago. Chance the Rapper. Been playing the new Mac Demarco a lot but not really feeling it. Most of the time I'll just listen to this song by Why?'s old group Greenthink 10 times in a row
The state of modern day indie music according to Ryan Solomon?
Oh man I don't know…I think it's good! We're in the age of information, it's awesome. Around 2010 I starting reading blogs and tumblrs and became part of a few internet artist communities. It's been great to see people I've known from these communities achieve success beyond the deep underground, Ryan Hemsworth, Saint Pepsi, Emily Reo, etc. It's proof that with talent and hard work good music can and will reach a bigger audience. So the state of music today has that going for it. It's a bit more depressing on the local level, where the 'scene' still does business in a obsolete way. In general I want to see the transition to a free music market that encourages discovery, sharing, collaboration. I think everyone could learn a thing or two from Lil B.
Keep an ear and eye out on the Bandcamp site for Wizard Woes for the furthest.