Interview: The Wild Reeds — Emerging L.A. Folk Rockers

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It was only a week before Christmas but that didn’t stop The Wild Reeds from decking out The Satellite on December 16th and making it their own holiday living room. Festive lights sprinkled the stage backdrop while concert-goers perused the Christmas Bazaar set-up, waiting for the bands to take the stage. As I arrived an hour before the third night of their Satellite residency, I was momentarily pulled into the green room with the whole band where I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely female-fronted musical outfit.

Top Emerging Artist: The Wild Reeds Interview

After bumping into each other 4 and a half years ago at a concert in Los Angeles, Kinsey Lee and Sharon Silva met during their free periods from school to jam. These jam sessions were even more frequent given the fact they went to school across the street from each other. Soon after, Mackenzie Howe, a mutual friend of Silva’s, joined-in to create the sweet-sounding, three-piece harmony fans know today as The Wild Reeds.

When asked to describe their sound to someone walking on the street, there was a lull that hinted a bit of frustration, while the five piece band quietly tried to think of a all-encompassing answer. Drummer Nick Jones finally jumped in to defiantly answer, “It’s like folk music with balls and a contemporary push.” While that got a few snickers from the other members of the band, Howe quickly jumped in and added, “It’s very harmony-driven.” Lee went on to explain, “We have a dash of bluegrass as an influence, with a lyric and harmony focus, so it’s kind of folk music in that sense, that it’s very much about songwriting and the lyrics.” Silva also made sure to point out that there’s “a little bit of rock too.” If you had any doubts as to whether The Wild Reeds were another run-of-the-mill Americana folk band, their answers to that question should make you reconsider.

Howe, Lee, and Silva all bring their own influences to the table when creating music for the band. Inspired by 50’s, 60’s and 70’s rock and roll, Howe focuses on simple lyrics and references contemporary story-tellers like Conor Oberst and Jenny Lewis. Silva brings a rock edge to the musical composition, especially in the guitar department, while Lee pulls from jazz roots to add to the ever-changing style that The Wild Reeds have to offer.

As the year winds down, the band has a lot to look back on in terms of growth and performance throughout the U.S. Some of their favorite stops included the Make Music Pasadena festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Echo Park Rising, Subzero Festival, and the Railroad Festival.

As I stayed after the interview to watch their set, I noticed the place was pretty packed for a Monday night. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, and I realized it wasn’t just because Christmas was around the corner. When the girls were ready to begin (all dressed in their own funky vintage outfits), they immediately dove into their first song, “Clouds,” ignoring the continuous murmurs of the crowd who hadn’t fully realized they had begun. But silence immediately filled the room once the three front-women emitted soothing harmonies accompanied by Lee’s banjo.

the wild reeds interview top emerging artist

Live at The Satellite. Photo Credit: aeconcertphotos

As they progressed through each song, none of the members stayed in one respective spot. Howe would start off playing the harmonium at one point and then suddenly switch places with Silva to play guitar for the next song. Their set-list gave each member a chance to shine, and after getting to know them before the show, it was easy to see the different influences from each of the leading ladies. One of the strongest hits of the night was “Foreigner,” a slower, more eerie tune, effortlessly building up to a chorus that thumps in your chest long after you leave the venue. Their simple, definitive lyrics are really quite impressive, getting the message across while making the words stick with catchy hooks.

A couple of holiday bonuses were added to the set, including a string section, which the band also invited to record on their upcoming album Blind and Brave, as well as a stripped-down cover of “Silent Night,” along with a cover of “Ceilings” by Local Natives. Their “Ceilings” cover was truly a treat for the audience and showed the trailblazing attitude the band has to offer, transcending genres and giving their own spin on a local indie-rock track.

It was no surprise that as The Wild Reeds finished their set they had won the crowd over. After asking the audience how many people attended their previous residency shows, over half the crowd raised their hand. Although folk isn’t the first genre that comes to mind when you think “Southern California,” the band has definitely found a growing folk scene, and made friends with many of the supporting acts that they’ve invited to open during their Satellite residency. When you add the numerous festivals they’ve played, it’s easy to see that The Wild Reeds have had quite the 2013; it appears there’s even more to come as they ring in the new year with their upcoming album.

Article by Amanda Erwin

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