Wet's Kelly Zutrau talks 'Old Bone' and the music industry

I was first introduced to the then band Wet in 2013 with the release of their self-titled EP Wet. Now completed as a duo, Wet has returned after two albums with the release of two new songs, Old Bone and Trust No Man (Acoustic). Wet has been through whirlwind of a year to say the least. With the release of their sophomore album Still Run released less than a year ago, the pair has been on the road touring nearly non-stop. Now, with these new tracks, they are unstoppable. Wet is heading out on a joint tour with Kilo Kish beginning next week (February 24th). Racking over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with. The video for Old Bone projects the journey of Kelly and Joe making their way through a bunch of winter-esque scenery. We recently got to chat with lead-singer Kelly Zutrau about Old Bone, the power of music and their upcoming tour.

Ervin Zelaya: Old Bone projects a very reposeful tone, almost reminding me of growing up. Not sure it correlates to the song but it did strike a note in my mind.  Why the change in instrumentals with Still Run & Old Bone v. Don’t You?

Kelly Zutrau: It was a natural progression, there wasn't any deliberate choice to make Still Run more acoustic than Don’t You, it just sort of happened over time. I’ve noticed that usually after I make something and hear it over and over and have to play it, I tend to want to move away from that sound and almost rebel against it. I get sick of myself and want to hear myself a new way. So that sort of happened when working on Still Run and ‘Old Bone.’ We were also hanging out with amazing players and just wanted to hear what the music would sound like if we gave up some control and let other people interpret parts of the songs. Now I feel myself wanting to move back in a more electronic direction, I’ve been missing the sound of programmed drums and a more minimal world for the most recent stuff we’ve been working on. 

With this new single and tour, what in you has matured to where you can have a clear vision for the future?

Now more than ever I feel like I don't have any expectations for any of this and that’s been very freeing. It's scary at first to get to a place where it's very chaotic and unpredictable, but I now for the first time feel like I'm making choices about the way the music sounds and about how to present it to the world based on what I think is cool and interesting and nothing else. 

As a lead female singer, what empowers you knowing now that you are getting the recognition you finally deserve?

I’m really grateful to be where I am and I’ve been trying to focus on that. There is always going to be things you don’t get or people who don’t like what you’re doing and it can be a very negative place, but when I play shows and see hundreds of people singing along to a song I get so much energy from that. There’s other things like that, little connections with people, not industry bullshit that make me so excited to keep writing songs and touring and everything. 

Old Bone by Wet | Directed by Peter Brandt

With the strong female empowerment movements going on, do you feel you have to tackle more political situations? i.e. Releasing female empowering tracks?

I don’t purposefully do that with the songs that I write, but I think generally that’s my perspective in everything I do. I was raised by a single mom with lots of little sisters and not a lot of resources or support other than those women. And I feel like my struggle in life has been trying to prove myself as someone who is worthy of anything….to other people and to myself. I think that struggle as well as any joy or triumphs I experience are evident in the songs, and in that way maybe it’s political or empowering. 

How harsh has the industry been on your career? Has it taken a toll on you both? Or do you just stay focused on doing you?

 I think overall we’re really lucky to have worked with some amazing people. There’s also been some really horrible people. I think the music industry is in a particularly grim place at the moment and it’s left a lot of artists feeling alienated and disempowered. Even compared to something like the fashion industry which has been historically so fucked up, to me it seems like there are big strides being made there for women and people of color and other historically unheard voices…Where as the music industry seems stuck in the past. From what I can see it’s still run by a bunch of white rich bros and generally just seems very exploitative. Obviously there are exceptions to that and people who are working hard to change it, but it just seems way too slow compared to other creative industries. It can be embarrassing to be a part of that world, but if you can find the right people and try to stay focused on making work that is interesting to you, it can be ok.

Looking back on “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” hitting over 10 million views, what’s changed in you lyrically? 

I don’t think that much has changed! That’s a pretty simple song, so maybe since then my writing has gotten more complicated at times but still the songs that I like the best are the simplest ones that usually happen quickly. I’ll just have the feeling of needing to say something but having no one to say it to and then I’ll write a song like ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl’  or ‘Old Bone’ just as a way of getting through that moment of feeling out of control. 

Do you still get anxious when hitting the stage? Big or Small?

I have pretty bad stage fright, doesn’t really matter how big or small the stage is. It’s pretty inconsistent too, I can never tell when it’s going to hit. I think it has very little to do with my surroundings and just is what’s in my head at a given moment. When I can quiet it and be present at a show that’s the best experience for me. But I’ve learned how to ignore it and get through it even if it’s really loud in my head. 

What is something new that we'll see on this tour?

We did the stage design with this amazing woman Clare Gillen, and I’m so excited for people to see the show. It’s most we’ve ever done to make a special visual experience for people while they listen. 

What’s one of the more personal connections you’ve had with a fan on tour?

I have a lot of young women come up to me after shows and tell me that a specific song or even lyric got them through something traumatic in their lives and it’s always really moving to see that it affects people that much. It’s such a big compliment an honor to have this intimate role in people’s lives. 

When a fan tells you how much a song has impacted them, does it make you feel compelled to write more tracks like that? Does inspiration strike when presented these emotional encounters?

It’s really moving and inspiring, it makes me want to be as honest as I can in my writing because then it’s real communication, something real from my life is entering someone else’s life.

Stream Old Bone/Trust No Man now

See Wet & Kilo Kish with special guests Helena Deland and Hana Vu on tour February 24th- March 30th

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