Brett Wildeman combines his passion for nature with his constant desire for new experiences to create music that reflects upon adventure and exploration.
“I love mountain bikes, I love cycling two wheeled things of all sorts that are self-propelled,” Wildeman says in an interview on Feb. 22. “I love spending time outdoors—lots of time when I’m not working on music or doing promo for music things. I love being outdoors hiking, camping, exploring the back country, building trails.”
Wildeman, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast and attended the University of Victoria, has been playing the guitar since he was in the fourth grade. He began collaborating with other musicians as he got older, and played in bands throughout high school and university. “I have played in multiple groups, I played in a bunch of awful cover bands in high school, I’ve been in a Celtic group with about 20 other youth, I was in high school at the time, and then I played in a couple other smaller Celtic-y folk bands in Victoria and on the Sunshine Coast.” Widleman says. However, it wasn’t until an injury prevented him from being able to bike and play sports that he took the time to focus on recording music. His first EP, One Man One Voice Two Hands, was recorded in 2010 on a cheap microphone Wildeman bought for that purpose. “That was when I really first started kind of exploring the voice, and that recording project was more of a spoken word over guitar…than an actual folk album, but that was kind of the beginning of it all. That’s when I started recording music, cause I kept hurting myself doing sports,” Wildeman said. The EP is a six-track album that is gently guided between darker and lighter moods with Wildeman’s careful guitar and thoughtful lyrics.
Wildeman released his second EP, Portraits, in March of 2012. The recording process was more advanced for Portraits, Wildeman says. It was recorded at Cedarside Coach House Cottage, his parents B&B, and Wildeman worked with other musicians, including Tegan Ceschi-Smith, Graeme McGillivray, and Chelsea Sleep, to add other instruments and voices to the album and was produced and engineered by Wildeman’s friend, and local musician, James Law. The result is a strong-sounding EP, complete in both instrumental and vocal exploration.
Wildeman’s next album, mother | earth, which is scheduled for release in Aug., is a nine-track, full-length record that Wildeman considers the most polished and advanced album he has worked on.
“One Man One Voice Two Hands was really just a trial and error project of a couple months with some really cheap recording gear, and I think Portraits was a good step in the right direction, more instruments involved, more of a produced product, and mother | earth…is actually a proper studio album, recorded at Strait Sound on the Sunshine Coast,” Wildeman says. “The drums are fuller, the strings are fuller, there’s a lot more guitar tones, a lot crunchier guitar tones on some songs…everything was done very organically.”
In recording mother | earth, Wildeman has faced and overcome song-writing obstacles. He says, “I think the challenging part is making each song sound unique, but still making them sound cohesive as a record. I think that can be challenging because you don’t want every chorus to sound the same, in regards to dynamics, whether its drums or strings or percussion or backing vocals but you want them to sound cohesive as a unit.” However, Wildeman said that in the last few years, since the release of One Man One Voice Two Hands, he has developed as a musician, specifically in terms of his vocals. “I’ve learned a lot about vocal dynamics just through trying different things. It has changed my approach to song-writing and the melodic-ness of my music because I’ve learned how to use my vocals in a different way, or in a more diverse way, than simply speaking lyrics.” He said that this development has allowed him to cut down his lyrics and focus on the messages he is trying to convey. “I’ve been less wordy with my song-writing, more concise…I think the songs come from the same place, lots of songs about what I see on a daily basis, mother | earth is written about family, which is the ‘mother’ part, and then our planet, which is the ‘earth’ part,” Wildeman says. This sharpening of focus allowed him to put his best music and lyrics together to create mother | earth. “I am really excited to share these songs [from mother | earth] and [while] Portraits was quite-diverse sounding…I think mother | earth is even more diverse-sounding than Portraits was in terms of [how] each song really stands as a unit…They all flow together with that ‘mother earth’ kind of theme that links them all together,” Wildeman says.
Wildeman says the inspiration for his songs comes from a variety of places, and that he enjoys seeing them develop from a fleeting idea into an instrumentally supported track. “They start with me, sitting on my couch or a chair with an idea, or an idea that pops into my head at a random moment, whether it’s walking along the beach or on the bus or talking to someone or overheard in conversation, then I usually scratch something down as a prompt for later on when I have some time to think about that. And it’s interesting because the songs go from a very solitude-focussed idea or item to becoming so much more when you have all these extra instruments added to them.”
Because of his adventurous spirit, Wildeman wasn’t able to tour immediately after releasing Portraits—he was on a bike tour in Utah. However, he recently paired up with B.C. musician Chelsea-Lyne for two shows on the Island in support of Portraits, including a slot at the Corner Lounge in Nanaimo on Mar. 3.
Wildeman will play in Victoria again, with Victoria-based indie-folk band West My Friend, on Mar. 9, followed by four more dates with the group on the mainland. “The exciting and terrifying thing about the tour is you never really know how it’s going to go until the gig is over, and you can do as much promo and you might perform really well but you don’t always know how the audience is going to take it. But then, at the same time, that’s also the most exciting part;…playing for new sets of ears that may have never been previously exposed to your music,” Wildeman says.
After his next set of shows, Widleman plans on returning to the Island in the summer, for a bike tour in support of mother | earth, and he is working on booking dates for a B.C.–A.B. tour in Sept. “My goal is just to put out the album and do the best with it that I can. I mean I feel like I’ve achieved a lot this year in terms of growth artistically, so I guess just playing to audiences that are appreciative of the music and to spread the word of my music, those are my goals,” Wildeman says. He said his focus is mainly on what the next couple of months entail, but that he might record and release another EP next year. “I kind of have this idea about putting out as much music as possible. I find I never really have a shortage of songs that I’m working on at one time,” Wildeman says.
For more information on upcoming tours, and to listen to Wildeman’s albums, visit <www.brettwildeman.tumblr.com>, <www.youtube.com/user/brettwildeman>, and like his page at <www.facebook.com/Brett.Wildeman>.