Artist Spotlight - Wesley Woo
After only playing six songs, I was already left feeling drained. Red Rock Café’s rich crimson walls which stood backdrop to my performance now perfectly mirrored my inner feelings of emotional exhaustion and fluster. And to think, it was only a short set of 15 minutes. I began to pack up my equipment, making space for the next performer, when suddenly my ears perked up to the jeers of the crowd---were they booing me? I thought everything went smoothly and my set seemed to leave the audience somewhat bedazzled. No, it was, in reality, the loving chant of “Woo!” that filled the quaint upstairs of the café, warmly welcoming the presence of the next musician. It was not long before the next band set up, preparing to reward the room for their wholehearted embrace.
Wesley Woo is the model of a polished performer. His stage presence is that of a veteran beyond his years, and the presentation of his craft reflects the years of hard work promoting and creating. Drawing influences from Motown, blues, alternative 90s rock, and even country, Wesley Woo blends different elements of his musical experience into a melodic and complex masterpiece, with all the components coalescing together seamlessly.
I have been fortunate enough to share the stage with him, witnessing first hand the energy he brings to the performances. Like a train chugging down the track, there is a constant driving force behind his performance, ever carrying the audience forward into a helpless toe-tapping frenzy. And though the energy pushes forward, there are never any hints that the performance will derail off of that perfect groove. While much of this quality can be attributed to Wesley’s unwavering stage presence, much of that credit can also go to his backing band whose members are all solid and versatile musicians in their own right. If Wesley Woo is the conductor of this train barreling down the tracks, it is his crew, consisting of Tommy P., Rachel Schmitz, and Ben Peterson, that help maintain the power that this band has to captivate an audience.
Recently, after returning from his tour through the Southwestern desert region on his way to SXSW (South by Southwest Music Festival), I had a chance to talk with him. Wesley revealed some insight on his background, his craft, his creative process, and his ambitions.
[How long you've been active performing?]
“I picked up the guitar when I was about 16 playing a lot of SRV/Eric Clapton/Hendrix Blues Rock, because I thought it would be cool to break it out at parties. Turns out it doesn't work that way since EVERYONE knows how to play the first two bars of "Tears in Heaven," but I guess I never looked back from there.”
[How did you decide that you were going to sing and create original music?]
“I didn't actually start learning to sing until about five years ago, after my first couple of bands crashed and burned pretty hard. It sort of came out of a necessity, where I didn't really have the vocal technique to sing covers, so I wrote my own songs. Cause those were the only melodies I could figure out how to sing, basically. After another four years of voice lessons and several (SEVERAL) years of REAL rough recordings/gigs/shows, I guess somewhere along the way I learned how to sing and write songs? I call it the school of ‘get-it-right-eventually.’”
[From your own experience as a musician, what has inspired you to become what you are today?]
“I studied Classical and Jazz Guitar at UC Berkeley for about four years before I realized that the music I really wanted to write and play were grounded in songwriting. Since then I've been heavy into a lot of ambient indie rock with my new band "Wesley Woo Band," along the lines of Jonsi/Sigueroa-Coldplay-early U2 Joshua Tree-esque stuff. Basically I'm really into reverb right now. “
[As a musician myself, I always am curious about each persons’ creative process when they are putting together new songs. How do you go about writing new songs?]
“That tends to vary a lot. Lately I've been putting some time into writing new music for this Funk band side project I'm working on, which has involved a lot of collaborative songwriting. It's pretty interesting diving into that kind of creative process, because you have to find the balance between bringing concrete ideas to the table, and knowing when to just shut up and play. The kinds of songs you get have really surprised me though. I love letting other musician's intuitions take over in the creative process, where you end up with a lot of really cool natural instinct that would have never come up otherwise.”
[What are some new developments you have discovered in trying further your art?]
“Over the last year, I've been working on setting up a crowdfunded video campaign for Youtube and Facebook via the Patreon.com platform. I launched the campaign earlier this week (which is terrifying, PS. Fingers crossed. I really hope I didn't just waste a year of my life).
Basically the idea is, the crowdfunding contributions funnel toward supporting my band's ongoing expenses, like rehearsal space leases, travel expenses, etc. etc., because let's face it. It's gotten pretty hard for a musician to make a decent buck these days. You can read more about it at http://www.Patreon.com/WesleyWooMusic”
[Is there a video/media/link you want me to highlight to give readers a better understanding of your music and personality?]
“Yeah! I'm pretty much the most awkward self-promoter ever, but check out our new music video! It's narrated in stick figures, and I'm kind of a huge fan of it right now.”
"The Truth Is" (Official Music Video) - Wesley Woo
Whether you are captivated by the singing behind his patented “Woo” face, or addicted to the irresistible charm of his music videos, it is clear that Wesley Woo is an talented artist worth watching out for. Keep an ear out for this up and coming artist. A promising future awaits him.
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