Own world: The Wild Reeds’ unified harmonic vision

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Own world: The Wild Reeds’ unified harmonic vision

In his essay titled “The Decay of Lying,” published in 1891, Oscar Wilde famously wrote that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” The Wild Reeds (in town on July 31) experienced this concept firsthand when they were filming the music video for “Only Songs,” the first single off their sophomore album, The World We Built. In the video, band member Mackenzie Howe’s guitar is stolen out of her car and the group embarks on a whimsical money-making spree to buy it back when it winds up at a nearby yard sale.

Ironically, Howe’s car was actually broken into on the first day of the video shoot. (Luckily, she didn’t lose her guitar.) Despite the situation’s obvious downside, the band used Howe’s smashed car window to its advantage, incorporating it into the opening sequence of the video to set the scene of the fictional break-in. The incident is indicative of the world the L.A. quintet has built over half a decade—one where the show must go on, mutual support is crucial and every opportunity can be seized for good.

The title of The World We Built is a nod to the way The Wild Reeds navigated some of the hurdles it faced coming up as a band fronted by three women.

The Wild Reeds’ Sharon Silva and Kinsey Lee began playing music together in college, with Howe joining them a few years later. Drummer Nick Jones and bassist Nick Phakpiseth form the rhythm section, rounding out the lineup. Silva, Lee and Howe take turns singing lead but have no problem pulling out killer harmonies when the song calls for it.

“The girls had always incorporated harmony in the band, so when I joined we had to work hard on our blend, seeing as we all have very different voices,” Howe says.

The title of The World We Built is a nod to the way The Wild Reeds navigated some of the hurdles it faced coming up as a band fronted by three women.

“We didn’t have a theme for the record going into it but after recording and seeing which songs made the cut, we noticed a few themes: empowerment, disillusionment and generally what it means to be women in 2017,” says Howe. “Being committed to a group of five people for the last five years has taught all of us about how important it is to make sure our little unit is healthy and loving and communicative—our own ‘little world,’ if you will. Because we are all we’ve got for weeks at a time in a very exhausting industry. But the record also refers to the macro world we live in, and the challenges we face to be understood, or often misunderstood, as artists trying to whole-heartedly pursue music.”

The collection of songs on the record was narrowed down from a larger batch of more than 20, with each one serving as a testament to the strength of their individual songwriting.

“All three of us girls write songs somewhat separately and then bring them to each other for help,” Howe says. “After that we start working on the full band version, and the boys sprinkle their magic in there, so the process has a few stages.”

Thematically, The World We Built deals with preconceived notions and how they change—who you thought you were or what you thought you knew may not necessarily hold up over time.

“Inevitably, over the three-year gap from our last record to our new one, we’ve all changed,” Howe says. “Seeing the whole country, and being pushed to your limits physically and emotionally can reveal these kinds of things to you in strange ways, but in the end you’re better for it.”

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