Wyatt Waddell Is An Artist You Need To Hear …
Written by Morgan Ciocca on April 2, 2021
South Side artist Wyatt Waddell claims a multitude of influences as ingredients to create his own stylistic mix of R&B, funk and pop.
His latest single, “You,” is available for streaming on most platforms, and was featured part of our Poised To Break Through series last fall. Check out our conversation with the artist from September of 2020..
Where in Chicago are you from? How did Chicago influence your style and musical craft?
I’m from the South Side of Chicago. The West Woodlawn area in particular. I think that the many artists that I come across in Chicago influence my music. Whether they’re my good friends that I’m around almost daily or the people that I (used to) meet at events, there’s always something that influences me in a Chicago artist.
You were both a student and an instructor at Intonation Music Workshop, how does that workshop play into your musical upbringing?
They really taught me how to work in a band. Being in bands throughout the program in turn taught me how to lead my own band.
Your music is wonderfully inventive, taking influences from R&B, soul, funk, pop. Harmonica Dunn said your sound seamlessly moves from the “raspy timbre of James Brown to the melodic whimsy of Paul McCartney.” In your own words, what influences inform your unique sound?
Though these thoughts above are true, my tastes have definitely changed over the years. I’ve been becoming influenced by more experimental and adventurous recordings. Some people that I’ve been listening to avidly are Thundercat, Steely Dan, and Stevie Wonder. I feel like I can be described as multiple different things. But it definitely changes over time.
I’m sure, like most everyone else, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of life on pause. How have you been staying busy these last couple months?
I’ve been recording out of the Rosebud [Allday] studio working on my own stuff as well as others. I’m doing a lot of producing and workshopping some new ideas as well.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, you mentioned you had started to work on your debut album, with songs described as “abstract, some about longing, some about letting go,” set to release mid-2020. Your song “You” fits that description rather well. Is it part of a larger project or is this a standalone track?
“You” is a stand-alone track. But it’s definitely in the same vein of the subject matter in the project. In regards to the debut, we pushed it back and now it’s set for release in early part of 2021.
Earlier this summer you made headlines with your song “Fight,” which addressed the Black Lives Matter movement and protests worldwide. Protest music is a deeply important tradition, how did you leave your own mark on the style?
It mostly had to do with letting go of what my idea of a protest song was. I tried so hard to internalize and write about the protests while they were happening. I had to do more listening and hearing how others were coping with it to really get to the meaning of the song.
What’s next for Wyatt Waddell?
Possibly more performances and crazy antics if the world opens up again.
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- Poised To Break Through: October 2021
- NPR Reflects On The Legacy Of “Soul Train”
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Interview edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca.