We called Wild Child’s Kelsey Wilson while she was on the road to talk to her about all the buzz the band’s been getting. Wilson is charmingly unpretentious, with a cherub-like face, long flowing blonde hair and a boho style sense that’s way less Mary Kate and Ashley and more “I actually eat and play the ukulele.” She’s been busy prepping for Wild Child’s “Outside City Limits Tour” that kicks off in June. The indie folk band is set to hit up New York City, D.C., Columbus, Chicago, Nashville and more. Do not, whatever you do, miss the opportunity to fill your eyes and ears with their sounds. In the meantime, Kelsey chats with us about how she’s making it in music, the Austin social scene, and divulges who is the craziest Wild Child.
Lianne Stokes: So you’re on your tour bus right now? Sooo musician of you.
Kelsey Wilson: Ha ha. There are some great perks. When we played New Orleans, some of our fans who own a bakery called, Pure Cake made us a decorated Wild Child cake. That was so awesome. We lived off it in tour van for 24 hours and now I just want cake again.
That is pretty solid.
For sure. So, how are you doing?
Me? Don’t ask that. I love to talk about myself and this is supposed to be about you. A friend of mine turned me onto you guys. She used one of your songs in a commercial she just shot. How did you get your start?
Alexander and I were back up musicians for bands. On long 12 hour car rides on the road we started writing some songs – we really enjoyed it. None of us had ever sang before. When we got back to Austin from that tour we found out we were neighbors and kept writing.
I always pictured successful musicians growing up fiending for fame in the business from a young age. Kind of the cliché “I want to be a rockstar” thing. You are the second artist I’ve spoken to who was just a creative person that organically found your way to a successful career.
Both Alexander and I played guitar; his Dad played guitar. I did the whole classical violin thing. We just liked to jam, but that was pretty much it for us. We were both going to school. It wasn’t until we started Wild Child that we realized this is what we wanted to do. It was a real natural progression writing these ukulele love songs over red wine. We just allowed them to be as bitter, angry and drunk as we wanted them to be.
What’s unique about your sound and style?
The two of us are musicians but neither one of us is a songwriter. For us, it’s more about putting a puzzle together than writing a song. Alexander and I are a team – we’re not good alone. Neither one of us is educated on music theory or the technical aspects of songwriting. Together we collaborate and where one falls short, the other fills in.
A musical romance. I love that. When you found your way how did you get publicity? Was difficult to get people to come to your shows?
Austin has such a great music scene; we’re a tight family community. We had been supporting our friends in bands and when we created Wild Child, they all showed up to support and back us.
In my non-humble opinion, Austin is one of the most artistic and amazing cities in America. You felt supported there, but do you know people who were there or somewhere else who have had a hard time feeling supported?
I’m sure some people have trouble with it. But in most cases, Austin is the most supportive city for aspiring musicians. It’s easy to go out most nights of the week and get a big crowd. It’s even easier to get to know other bands.
The one thing I heard when I was in Austin is that for music, it is the best place to be, but super saturated.
That’s the one thing. Everyone in Austin can write a song and play guitar. There’s music everywhere and it’s wonderful, but there’s a lot of it.
This year was my first SXSW. My friends tell me the city is even more alive. Bands who aren’t slated to play the festival come down rogue-operation style and play on 6th Street, and elsewhere.
Yes. The cool thing is during SXSW, you walk into a grocery store and there’s a band playing.
What are your tips for concert-goers at festivals?
Go to the bathroom before you leave the house. And pocket shots.
What did you say?
Those little plastic pouches of alcohol that you stick in your bag.
I think you just turned me onto to something amazing.
Oh yeah, I mean people who go to festivals and panels where they’re charging 8 bucks for a beer, just bring pocket shots.
I am apparently a lame drunken grandma who spends cash I don’t have on beers. I love you guys, that’s great. So, who is the most interesting person on your tour bus?
The drummer, Carey. He has long read hair and he’s the palest motherf**ker you’ll meet in your life. BUT he’s a great dancer and can freestyle better than any rapper I know.
A ‘ginger professional, freestyle rapper’. Bring that on!
Not just ginger, long wavy hair, huge crazy eyes that look into your soul. He’ s definitely the most crazy one, I think; charming. What’s that, Carey? Okay, he wants you to know that he’s also a great kisser.
How do you feel about Spotify? Would you rather someone stream your work or buy it in iTunes?
Wilson: iTunes takes a big old cut. At least with Spotify, people are listening to it. Your ability to reach people over the internet is incredible. Musicians can say that they’re losing money because people don’t buy a full album, but really you are reaching so many more people digitally. We’ve had a lot of good luck over the internet. We’ve been in the ‘Top Ten’ songs on Pipe Machine. It’s been really good to us. It’s reached a lot of people but it’s small groups in several different places. It’s special to show up in New Orleans and there’s a cake waiting for us and these teenage girls who showed up hours early because they thought there was going to be a line. And, then it’s empty. There are these amazing Pipe Machine super fans.
I feel like you add so much value to your fan base because you’re humble and assessable. You’re not Keith Richards getting your blood replaced again. There seems to be a resurgence of artists in music again as opposed to commercialized products of The Disney Corporation, you’re part of that.
We’ll get off stage when we can, have a shot and chat with the people who came to see us. I mean, they came out just for us and spent money.
Do you have an advice to chicks who are coming up in the business?
There are tons of people you’ll encounter who are in power in the music industry who have huge egos and who aren’t nice. Remember yourself, always be nice no matter what.
Featured image by Wynn Myers