Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Naomi Wild has had an eventful past 2 years to say the least. From writing and being featured on the now iconic song "Higher Ground" with ODESZA, to touring with them around the world. Yesterday Naomi performed had her own performance at SXSW. She credits SXSW for being her first solo set performance. Her new song "Run That" premiered last night in conjunction with her performance at Maggie Mae's rooftop. We recently got to chat with Naomi Wild prior to her performance at SXSW.
Ervin Zelaya: What brings you to the SXSW?
Naomi Wild: I've always wanted to come to SXSW. It's been like a couple of years in the making of just having this project in general. I've gone through like 3 projects and just like trashed them, so it was really just about developing the sound and finding songs that I feel really translated and like resonated with me and made sense for who I am right now. It was just a long road of touring and figuring out who I was as a performer too. This whole project is the first time that it's unapologetically me and all of the different multifaceted pieces of who I am as a person. It's just a really diverse project and I wanted to be able to bring it to life with this set. I just thought SXSW would be a great place to do that. There were so many years when I had homies that were like "We're playing SXSW!", so I was just like "I wonder when that's going to be my time." I didn't want to rush it. It just so happen that it was good timing, so I was like "Alright, lets do it!"
Have you been to Austin before?
Yeah I have with ODESZA. Super fun! Not SXSW, but i've been here yeah.
Have you experienced 6th street?
Oh yeah! Dude, we know 6th street. The ODESZA drumline, Evan Giia and I raged last time when we were here at ACL. We hit Bat Bar, it was a legendary night. I remember I was wearing this really pretty blouse, but it was so humid and hot that I just like sweated right through it. After a certain amount drinks, I was just like "IDGAF". We went into a souvenir shop and I ended up getting a shirt that said "F*** y'all i'm from Texas", and I still have it!
What was the story on your song "Howlin"?
The story of that song was just kind of like me discovering why as I'm a person, in a relationship. "Howlin" was me just coming to terms with the fact that I like a challenge, I like having to chase somebody. For whatever reason I'm really attracted to it. It kind of leads to a mess, but part of me feels more alive when everything isn't so organized or put together. I kind of like living with my feet off the ground. I do well with chaos, I think thats just like a part of me that i'm trying to accept and embrace.
Shot by Daniela Salinas
With the new single coming out are you planning on keeping the same scope of sound from "Howlin"?
Definitely not. I really like being unpredictable. That was a big part of when I really started diving into expanding my skills. I started writing with rappers a lot, just because they're poets before anything else. I didn't want to lose that flow, i wanted to still be able to be weird and unpredictable. I tried out a lot of different ways of writing over the last 3 years and finally at one point, it all just fell together when I stoped trying so hard. Now the stuff that I have, it's not necessarily consistent, but it's sonically cohesive. I would just say that music coming from me, you never know what you're gonna get.
But it's still a story right?
It's definitely still a story. I think that the songs have just become a lot more personal and a lot more vulnerable. But at the same time I really like to make music thats left to the interpretation of the listener. I like to write lyrics that can be taken in more than one way. I like to paint the images of what i'm going through (mentally or physically), kind of just lay it out for people to take it however they want to.
Briefly, I want to talk about on of my favorite tracks by you, Higher Ground with ODESZA. How did that opportunity come about?
I wrote a song a couple of years ago and I wasn't really doing much with music at the time. I was trying to get through writers block, so I thought about a time when I felt really inspired, I actually snuck into Coachella when I was in high school and saw ODESZA. That was a really powerful moment for me. So, when I started writing music, when I hit that block, I was trying to tap into a headspace where I felt really inspired. Trying to remember why I wanted to do it. That was what I thought of. I kind of thought of it as "if I was going to give them a song, what would I want it to sound like." And that's what came out.
How was it like touring with them?
It changed my life. They really went above and beyond for me, in terms of exposing me to all of the things and trusting me. I hadn't ever premed live before Bumbershoot. They always laugh because they say that they "threw me into the fire". I feel like that makes so much sense in so many ways. I learned who I was as a performer, and so much about myself. How I wanted to go from there. It was a huge stepping stone, and I'm so grateful for it. They're friends of mine now. It's just been an incredible experience that I can't even properly explain. It still gives me THAT feeling when i'm with them. They've become family, the entire crew, the drumline.
With the way the music industry is now what change do you want to see in the future? And why?
I would love for people that have a platform to use them in a positive way. To take advantage of the fact that you have this spotlight on you and use it for something bigger. Talk about sh** that actually matters to you. Don't like fake humble that sh**. If you want talk about gay right, talk about it. If you want to talk about mental health, talk about it. I'm not saying make any crazy political statements, because none of us are political scientists. There are so many people looking up to us whether they be young or old. You have such an influence, and you just never know what you're putting in someones head. If anything just make it something positive. I don't know why that seems so hard for people to understand. It seems like it's more fun for people to flex these days than use it in a way that it could be positive. I don't know, i just admire artists that do that. It's not just about fans to artist, its artist to artist too. I still have artists that I look up to. I want to be able to rep your merch and rep what you stand for. It's so easy to spread love, just do it.
Is it mentally draining having to tour sometimes? Does it stop the creative juices from flowing?
It doesn't stop them, it can get very overwhelming. Working on my own stuff on top of touring with them, it's a completely different headspace to try and tap into. I've definitely gone in and out of struggling with it. I don't know, I guess I'm just finally starting to feel some of the pressure of my own stuff. So going on tour with ODESZA is really nice because its a relief from that for a second. It kind of recharges me when I get back. I really enjoy it either way. I like to be able to have these two worlds that are not different but also so different. It's awesome i love having to go back and forth.
What's your new single "Run That" about?
It's kind of this internal dialogue between codependency and independence. Being in a relationship sometimes can be really confusing in a sense where you put that person first in every aspect. I've always kind of been in relationships, and I'm in one now and I'm really happy. But I think that during that time when I started writing it I really confused. It made me grow a lot, kind of made me rooted. Wanting to genuinely focus on like "Who are you?" Instead of always thinking of somebody else first. Kind of like in return feeling like I was in a cage because of that mentality. Wanting to break free of that out of curiosity. So that's really what the song is about. It was just kind of like a coming of self story. And it not like it completely solved that part of the process, it's just a part of it.
Check out Run That by Naomi Wild here