Catching up with WET: Artist Profile and Exclusive Interview!
For the full interview click the Soundcloud link, and for my thoughts, read on!
Indie electronic act Wet first caught my attention in 2013 with the release of their eponymous debut EP, Wet. It was a time when I was just starting to get into independent musicians such as Baths, Four Tet, Phantogram, and Grimes; it was a time of discovery for me. But despite the tremendous amount of music I was consuming on a near daily basis, Wet’s four-track EP stood out from the rest of the pack. And I kept coming back to it.
Perhaps what captivated me was their ability to traverse the realms of electronic music, R&B, and pop music while maintaining a distinct, polished sound. Take the third track off the 2013 EP, arguably their most famous record, “Don’t Wanna be Your Girl”: the song balances an ethereal, reverb-drenched lead vocal with gentle guitar riffs, and it feels blanketed throughout by expansive synth pads. For a record that clocks in at the innately languorous tempo of 65bpm, it somehow still engages the listener and pulls us into its time. You could practically throw your Spotify on shuffle and listen to a house record at 126bpm, and “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl,” or any records on that EP for that matter, would still be in flow.
Now, nearly five years after Wet dropped their debut EP, a lot has changed. The group released their first studio album, Don’t You, in 2016, and has had a slew of single releases including “The Middle,” and “Turn Away.” The trio has now become a duo, consisting of frontwoman Kelly Zutrau and Joe Valle, and naturally, the aesthetic of their band has evolved. Zutrau now assumes greater creative control over the project, taking a leading role in all aspects beyond vocals, lyrics, and chords. The shape of their live-sets has also changed. While Zutrau still provides the vocal backbone on all their tracks and Joe plays supporting instrumentation using electronic sample pads and triggering, they have now incorporated other instrumentalists into their show. For their spring tour, they brought musicians playing a range of instruments from keys and bass to pedal steel guitar and live drums. Consequently, their new sets feature a fuller sonic environment that complements their studio recordings in a refreshing, unique way.
In spite of all the restructuring and transformation, Wet has stayed consistent to the spirit that attracted me and so many others to their project over the years. After a quiet 2017 spent writing and recording their upcoming sophomore album, they have kicked off 2018 with three new singles: “There’s a Reason,” “Softens,” and “Lately.” Each song has its own character: “There’s a Reason” seems to dance the line between indietronica and pop with conspicuous elements of country-folk music, especially with the supporting guitar sections. “Softens” features delicate atmospheres with a propulsive vocal hook that sweeps the song from sections of gentle contemplation to gripping verbal catharsis. The group’s most recent release, “Lately,” is one of the most upbeat, danceable records the group has released, yet it still preserves Wet’s signature pensive introspection in its lyrics. All three of these songs come off of their upcoming album, Still Run, which is slated for release on July 13th.
The band has been tight-lipped about the forthcoming content, but if these singles serve as any indication of what’s in store, we can expect an album that will retain the group’s elemental qualities: Zutrau’s airy vocals and cerebral lyrics, as well as purposefully minimal instrumentation, while also delving into new thematic territories. Perhaps this album will feature more folk and country roots? Certainly songs such as “Softens” suggest a broader focus with its unmistakable use of the pedal steel guitar—a classic component of country music. Moreover, just listening to the instrumentation on these new singles, one can find denser harmonies—string sections and guitar counterpoints enhance the soundscapes of both “Softens” and “There’s a Reason.” Indeed, Wet seems to have departed from their R&B roots and embraced new genres with their newest singles, so perhaps we will see more of this genre-bending aesthetic on their album. Either way, we will find out very soon! In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming tour dates. They are surely going to make the rounds on the festival circuit this summer.
And if you want to hear about the new album from the source, listen to this interview I did with Wet’s Kelly Zutrau before their performance at the House of Blues Chicago on May 26th (It's also posted at the top of this page). Kelly has a really interesting perspective on the new singles, being back on tour, and the upcoming album. Enjoy!
Pre-order Wet's new album right here!