Artist Spotlight Interview - azure wolf
In a string of releases throughout 2020, Azure Wolf has been gracing us with their particular brand of dream alt-rock.
Starting with the ambient and cinematic stylings of "Love, Mother" we get a feel for the emotionally driven standpoint of Azure Wolf. Soaking in beautiful soundscapes and powerful vocals reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks is a wonderous experience.
Following that up with "Dancing Bears"; a radio single that rocks a bit harder without losing their ambient and distant tone. A very catchy and feel good track, the band is clearly showing different sides to their songwriting.
The latest in the set is called "19" and it pulls you in straight away with it's almost surf guitars and mature pop tendencies. Touching on a vintage pop sound using 80's synths and combining them with their staple sound works incredibly well.
We wanted to have a chat with Azure Wolf to find out more about everything. So we did.
RAG: So let's start with "19". This track has a great melodic pop rock vibe to it with a bit of edge and pretty descriptive lyrics. Where did this track come from?
Victoria Backle (Singer/Songwriter, Guitar): “19” is actually written about COVID. We
had a whole summer lined up with live shows and of course everything got cancelled,
so we took to writing as a means to stay busy. “19” was the first song to come out of
that creative momentum. The nice thing about this song is that it kind of has a double
meaning. We’ve received a lot of feedback that people think nineteen is about age and
leaving home for the first time. I really appreciate that interpretation; it’s not what I had
in my mind while writing it, but I can really relate to that side of it too.
Isaac Foltz (Singer/Songwriter, Lead Guitar): We had a really awesome trajectory
planned for shows, releasing music and the whole year. The song was born out of
frustration of loss, but harnessed the spirit of fun and party-like energy that we have as
individuals. “19” was a lot fun to play guitar on. I tried to approach it with as much of a
care free sound as possible. Hopefully it ages well as a fun sounding relic of the
Tommy Moore (Drums): From a drumming perspective, this is a very “Dave Grohl”
influenced beat. I’ve always wanted to do a sock-hop/50s style rhythm in a song and so
I tried it on this track. Grohl does it on Nirvana’s “Serve the Servants” and I always
thought it was cool that he used it in a rock style. The chorus was kind of boring, at
least from a drum standpoint, so I switched it up with a couple different time signatures
to accent the lyrical cadence that Victoria laid down.
RAG: "19" looks like it's part of a string of singles you've released throughout this year. Is there an album coming or more singles before the end of the year?
Victoria: We’ve been working incredibly hard on our debut album which is set to release
in 2021. We just wrapped up recording last month and we’re now in the mixing and
mastering process. There will be nine songs on the debut which will include a
revamped version of our single, “Love, Mother”, as well as eight other songs you
haven’t heard before. We’ve actually been writing so much that we have songs already
completed for a second album. We’ve been really riding this wave and don’t plan on
stopping any time soon.
Sean Spencer (Bass/Synth): We’ve had writing fever for some time now, honestly, and
the album we have coming out next year is the product of a lot of that ambition. As
Victoria mentioned, we’ve been writing songs for the second album already, and it still
feels like we are uncovering hidden pieces of who we are as a band in every new
composition, which feels exciting!
RAG: I also really loved "Dancing Bears" quite a lot. Some of these songs have a touch
of 80's alt-pop in the songwriting. What are your real musical influences? What
bands really changed you?
Victoria: We get that a lot with these songs and what’s funny is that the 80s are the least
inspiring decade for me. “Dancing Bears” was a Sean creation. The other three of us
were sitting outside smoking and we heard him play that synth intro part upstairs. We
quickly ran up and grabbed our instruments and within thirty minutes we had this song.
It was the first song we all wrote together, actually.
I have a huge infatuation with the 50s, 60s and 90s; especially Elvis Presley, Frank
Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Nirvana, The Doors, etc. I pretty much dig
anything where one of the main instruments is the human voice. I think you’ll hear a lot
of those influences on our debut album.
Isaac: “Dancing Bears” was a song that let me channel some of my favorite modern
indie-pop bands like Walk the Moon and The Bleachers. I also enjoy indie and post-rock
sounds like Interpol, The National, Arcade Fire, etc. Some of those records, especially
“Turn on the Bright Lights,” by Interpol have deeply impacted my sound on guitar. Deep
diving through old Kings of Leon albums like “Youth and Young Manhood” or Dawes’
“Nothing is Wrong” is what influenced me to want to write songs and be part of a band.
Sean: “Dancing Bears” is one of my favorites to play due to the dance-y, weaving nature
of the synth and beat. I think that it comes from a place in my musical history that I’ve
never really gotten to express on stage before. Dance/pop has always been a feel-good
genre for me and greatly inspired my parts in that song.
I’d say my approach to music really changed when I got into progressive rock: Dream
Theater, Rush, King Crimson, that sort of thing. Any band that felt like it was breaking or
bending compositional rules. Then I got into modern funk and jam bands like Lettuce,
Umphrey’s McGee, Sunsquabi and JRAD; that sort of connected the rule-breaking of
music with contemporary rock-band structure. You may not hear many of these
influences in Azure Wolf, but I think that they really structure how I approach
Tommy: I think we brought a couple of different influences into this track; some were
conscious and others were accidental. I think you can hear a lot of U2’s Joshua Tree in
this track, especially from Isaac’s guitar parts. Vocally, I think there’s a lot of influence
from Alanis Morsette and the beginning has a “Baba O’Reilly” feel going on. A lot of
different things at play, but overall it’s just an upbeat pop song.
RAG: How did all of this actually start for you?
Victoria: Azure Wolf was originally my solo folk project. It was just me, my songs and
an acoustic guitar. Isaac came on board as my lead guitarist and added that
fundamental Azure Wolf sound; we wouldn’t be the band we are without his tone.
Tommy eventually found me at an open mic and a professional connection quickly
turned into a friendship and the rest is history. Sean was the last to join us, but we
knew immediately after his audition that he was the missing piece. We have a power
line-up now I wouldn’t trade for the world. Just over one year later and Azure Wolf is a
completely evolved project.
Sean: I had been playing with a handful of other projects in the area, almost all of them
were jam or jazz focused, but I was just trying to envelope myself in as much music as
possible. I saw that Victoria had posted on social media about needing a fill-in bassist
and I liked what I’d heard from Azure Wolf, so I figured I’d be happy to help them along
until they found the right person. After the first time we played together I knew this band
was honestly in love with their craft. They were openly creative and collaborative and
they had a rocking sound that brought me back to what I had wanted to do with my
music when I first picked up a guitar 15 years ago. So when they asked me to join full
time I answered pretty quickly… “Yes!”
Isaac: I answered an ad, which sounds like how bands in the 80s got together. I was
sitting in a Taco Bell after having an audition earlier that evening for a band I was not a
good fit for. I saw on Facebook in a local music page that Victoria was looking for
another musician to add to her group, so I listened through her catalog of songs on
SoundCloud. I could immediately tell that she was incredibly talented, and I wanted to
be a part of anything she was doing creatively. She invited me to jam a few days later
and we clicked instantly.
RAG: Did you play live shows before and are you planning on performing live when the
Victoria: Yes, we stay very active with live performances. We just headlined an outdoor
show at State Theatre in DC last weekend and it felt so good to play for a live audience
again. We’ve also done two livestreams, with a third one coming up, since COVID. You
can actually buy tickets for our upcoming livestream from DC9 on November 30th here:
RAG: You are doing very well and it looks like you're gaining fans. Is there any advice
you'd give to other aspiring bands or artists just trying to get heard out there?
Victoria: Stick to it. I think one of the biggest pieces of misinformation that a musician
can receive is that it’s all just supposed to “happen”. It doesn’t. It’s a ton of hard work,
shameless self-promotion and grinding your fingers to the bone – all just for the hope it
will be worth it in the end. Believe in your project, take it as far as you can and enjoy
the ride. That’s all we can do!
Tommy: Just try to go out and be in the mix as much as you can. If you have a few
songs then go hit every open mic or livestream it yourself if going out isn’t an option for
you. The biggest thing is to always create momentum for yourself so you can move
forward to the next thing. Be visible on every platform, network with people, pay it
forward and go out to other people’s shows. Show up for people and they will show up
for you. I found Azure Wolf by going out and checking out open mics. I wasn’t even
looking for a band, but you never know who you’ll meet!
Isaac: A year ago, my go-to advice and personal mantra was “play shows, don’t suck.”
With shows being limited and phased out for the year, it seems like dated advice. Now
is a perfect time to focus on the intention of your art and creativity. Most of what we’ve
written has been during this year, having no shows, and only time to ourselves. Self-
reflection is an excellent pathway to honest creation.
RAG: Do you have anything you'd like to express to your fans before we go?
Victoria: We feel incredibly grateful for everyone who believes in what we’re doing.
Azure Wolf is indebted to the friends, family and fans that have loyally supported us
since the beginning. We will always do our best to make you all proud and to continue
making music that is honest and authentic.
Sean: Thank you, thank you, thank you for every effort made to help us pursue this wild
dream. Every moment of success for us is shared with all of you at heart. I wish all of
you safety, well-being and happiness.
Check out Azure Wolf