Eaves Wilder on a Year of Growth and New Experiences | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Eaves Wilder on a Year of Growth and New Experiences

Walk on the Wilder Side

Feb 01, 2024 Web Exclusive Photography by James Loveday (for Under the Radar) Bookmark and Share

Emerging UK singer/songwriter Eaves Wilder had a memorable 2023. It was a year in which she grew as an artist and discovered what it takes to become a touring musician. Under the Radar sat down to have a chat with her just before Christmas, and we delved into her early musical influences and how they informed the music she writes today.

Growing up in a household where both parents were music journalists (Pete Paphides and Caitlin Moran), Wilder has plenty of nostalgic memories of being constantly surrounded by diverse musical genres. “My parents aren’t anything like the stereotype of snobby music journalists,” she explains. “They were open to everything. For example, My dad’s favorite bands were ABBA and ELO, so I grew up appreciating perfectly written pop songs. My mum introduced me to the likes of The Sundays and Cocteau Twins, which were a huge influence on me and certainly influenced the music I began to write.”

Although nobody in her household really played any instruments, Wilder began teaching herself music from the age of about eight and writing songs “of some sort,” as she explains. “Growing up I began working my way through The Beatles’ songbook, and I taught myself to play the guitar and then started to learn how to produce music as I got older, as well as going to lots of gigs. So music and gigs have always been a big part of my life growing up.”

When she was younger, the first artist she really related to was Lily Allen. “I was obsessed with her,” Wilder laughs. “I mean, I was so young I probably didn’t understand what the songs were about, but they seemed pretty witty and sarcastic. She seemed to always be running around in a prom dress and training shoes, which is every little girl’s dream! The first bands I really got into were Bikini Kill and Hole.”

It may have been her parents who introduced young Eavie to an eclectic palette of music, but nowadays, when it comes to new artists, it’s Wilder and her sister who introduce their parents to bands. “My sister is a music video director, and she’s just worked with The Last Dinner Party, and my parents love it.”

Wilder has been distilling her influences and creating her own unique musical style, which she adroitly demonstrated on her debut EP, Hookey, released in March 2023 via Secretly Canadian. It also showcased Wilder’s ability to write about matters close to her heart in an incisive, witty, and relatable way. One of the EP’s standout tracks, “Are You Diagnosed?,” tackled the lack of funding within the UK mental health system. “It took me a few years to write that song,” explains Wilder. “I started it when I was 14 and finished when I was 18 because I needed to have some distance from it. There was a lot of anger in there as I felt the system almost incentivized people to be ill. It rippled into school; it became almost cool to be ill or depressed or have an eating disorder. Like in the waiting room at CAMHS [the UK’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services], everybody was sizing each other up, working out who was the worst, and that’s not a great thing for a competitive illness like an eating disorder, which I was being treated for. Every generation has had its own mental health challenges, and I know we are encouraged to talk about it, but it does seem a huge issue. Like when I went on my tour and mentioned CAMHS, and there was quite a young audience at the gig, and you could tell a lot of people there had had an experience with the service.”

There has been a lot of discussion around the increase in mental health issues allied to the explosion of social media and our unhealthy addiction to our mobile phones. Of course, artists are encouraged to be active on social media to promote their work and engage with their fans, I wonder how Wilder balances creative endeavors with the demands of the digital age.

“I have to admit I do kind of resent the amount of time artists have to spend on their social media,” she confides. “Like, I’ve just joined TikTok after resisting it for about four years, but the truth is unless you’re Beyoncé, you have to be on it. But looking at the positives, I have been able to connect with some very cool people. But it’s quite counterintuitive being on your phone all the time when you’re trying to be creative. Like the time it takes to do a TikTok, I could have written two songs, but these days being on TikTok might be seen as more useful. I sound like such a curmudgeon,” she laughs, “but I’ve started trying not to look at what everybody else is posting because when you start comparing yourself, that can be really unhelpful. Then there’s the nonsense about so-called ‘industry plants.’ It’s no coincidence that a lot of these accusations are aimed at women. It’s a ridiculous notion. You can have all the backing in the world, but if people don’t like your music, it’s not going to get anywhere. I can think of loads of famous musicians whose kids have tried to have a career and haven’t gotten anywhere because their music just hasn’t connected. There’s no way these bands who have blown up could have been put together by men; just listen to them. I mean Wet Leg reference Mean Girls, and The Last Dinner Party sing about being a girl in a Catholic school.”

She also worries about living a life online for the next young generation who have grown up not knowing a time before the internet. “Social media can encourage you to have fewer hobbies and not look at different ways of expressing yourself; constantly posting all your thoughts unfiltered publicly doesn’t always lead to a positive experience. I enjoy writing songs because I spend hours and hours obsessing over them so that they say exactly what I want them to say within three minutes. I don’t really do ‘trains of thought;’ I like to think things out properly before I put them out into the world.”

Another track on the Hookey, “I Stole Your Jumper,” which centers around female revenge, took a couple of rewrites before Wilder was happy with the energy and tone of the song. “I had a lot of dark things I wanted to talk about and had initially approached them in a kind of sad girl way, but it just didn’t feel cathartic, so I tried to write in a super aggressive riot grrrl, badass way about this guy. But that didn’t feel right because all I’d done was take his clothes and burn them rather than confront him. And I’d also just watched Thelma and Louise with my sister and thought—well, my revenge story was burning his clothes, so that’s what I should write about. It actually felt more cathartic singing about that because it was completely true. It’s the song I really get lost in the most when I perform it live.”

Wilder’s previous single “Freefall” was framed as a kind of companion track to “I Stole Your Jumper,” in that it deals with coming to terms with trauma. “A lot of girls who have had a bad experience of assault, become celibate for a few years as a way of coping with the trauma,” Wilder explains. “That’s what ‘I Stole Your Jumper’ was about, and ‘Freefall’ is like the follow-up—it’s meant to sound quite sloppy and drunk. And it was when I was at a house party; it’s about the realization that you are kind of over it enough to go out again.”

Wilder’s balance of soaring pop hooks and witty incisive lyrics, often dealing with weighty subject matters, have certainly connected with people, including the “BBC6 Music Dad” demographic that appreciated her recent cover of the Blur classic, “She’s so High” (from their 1991-released debut album, Leisure).

“I’ve always loved Blur,” she enthuses. “And Leisure especially. Graham [Coxon] loves My Bloody Valentine, and I can always hear that influence on a lot of their songs. Blur was like a gateway drug for me; they got me into Elastica which, in turn, got me into PJ Harvey, so I’m forever indebted to them. I always loved how British they were, the fact that they never put on that fake American accent style of singing, which always grates. And I think every girl wants to be that girl Damon [Albarn] is singing about. It’s also the song that when I play it live, always gets the 6 Music Dads going too, which is great fun.”

Looking back on 2023, Wilder reflects it has been a year of growth, and development as well as some incredible and unexpected moments

“It’s been a real learning curve; some amazing things happened like playing Glastonbury on the “BBC Introducing Stage.” After their impressive performance, Wilder got a call to play Glastonbury’s iconic “The Other Stage,” when an artist had to drop out. “That was crazy,” she laughs. “Some of us had only just got back to our tents from the night before when we got the call saying if we could make it we could have the slot. We only had like an hour, and our gear had already been taken from the site; we had no manager or tour manager on-site. And we were running around the site trying to borrow some equipment so we could play, but it was such fun. Another one was playing the Green Man festival, as that’s such a special place for me; I’ve gone every year, so to play there felt like a full circle; it was incredible, and it was off the back of our slot on the Other Stage that they saw us and booked us. In 2024 I’ll be going back in the studio and writing songs which will be informed by knowing what it’s like to play live, 2023 really was an amazing year!”


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