Wings of Desire on Their Formation and Early Singles | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Wings of Desire on Their Formation and Early Singles

Cycles of Creation

Dec 08, 2023 Issue #71 - Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout Photography by Holly Whitaker Bookmark and Share

For the rising British indie outfit Wings of Desire, creation is a process of rebirth and reinvention. The band itself was born from the wreckage of another, with bandmates James Taylor and Chloe Little first beginning their creative partnership with their time in the band INHEAVEN. After that band called it quits, Taylor and Little decamped to New York City where they spent the next few months immersed in the local scene. They came out on the other end with a novel reinvention of their sound and visuals, one inspired equally by Factory Records’ post-punk heyday, David Bowie’s Berlin era, the early 2000s New York rock revival, and Andy Warhol’s experimental pop art.

They quickly found that their new music didn’t fit with the moodier alt rock they had made with INHEAVEN. Instead, their sound was soaring and anthemic, launching from simmering synth leads into bursts of joyous life-affirming bliss. “It became quite a healing experience for us both,” Taylor explains. “A kind of rediscovering of who we are as artists and as people as well. We were kind of redefining ourselves, and that took quite a long time.”

“I always feel like we’re always in this cycle of destruction and then creation,” he continues. “I think most artists go through that a lot, and I think that’s part of the creative process. You have to pull everything down so that you can start again and rebuild anew. It was like starting all over again and it was one of the most terrifying things we’ve ever done.”

Three years later, at the time of our interview, the duo was in the midst of their first headlining tour as Wings of Desire, fresh off of a stint opening for Nation of Language. At the same time, they’ve been re-introducing the band with a series of singles, leading up to an album release. At this point, the band is brimming with new songs and visuals waiting in the wings, constantly building on their core combination of Taylor’s songwriting and Little’s visuals.

The band’s visual element is central to everything they’ve done, from their mood-board website, to the evocative collages that drive the videos, to their singles, “Runnin’” and “Choose a Life.” They describe the visuals as if the pair are each other’s yin and yang. Taylor will often conceptualize the songs with an emotive throughline in mind, one which Little brings out with an encyclopedic range of images and old YouTube clips. “When me and James first started working together, one of the first things we ever did is make a video clip of loads of flashing images,” explains Little. “And then James wrote on top of that. Ever since then, the visuals have always been important.”

The combination of Taylor’s yin and Little’s yang taps into something undefinable, grappling with the daily lull of modern life, questions of existential meaning, and societally prescribed roles (“Choose your life/Get a job/Find a wife/Fuck it all”). Together, the band turns the very act of existing outside of these roles into an epic act of rebellion. As Taylor explains, they seek to show how “we can be in this world, but we don’t have to lose ourselves completely to it.”

“For me, music is just about alchemizing my emotions and bringing those into the light,” says Taylor. “I think it can be such a cathartic process for the writer and for the listener.” Wings of Desire is about capturing that catharsis, distilling it, and launching it skyward. The effect feels magical, as if Taylor and Little’s latest cycle of creation and destruction has captured lightning in a bottle.

(Today, Wings of Desire released Life is Infinite, an album-length anthology that collects the band’s singles thus far but isn’t technically their debut album.)

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 71 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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