Anglo-Irish songwriter Ella Walker, best known via her moniker Wildes, was only 19 when BBC Radio I DJ Phil Taggart spotted her at an open mic night. Since then, her first single has amassed over 10 million streams. Now, aged 22, Wildes has written and recorded an album (due out later this year) and continues to craft elegantly beautiful music. Her new single ‘True Love’ is outstandingly pretty. We caught up with her to chat all things music.
Hey Ella, describe your sound to us in 5 words.
Hello! Psychedelic, atmospheric, epic, and ethereal yet punchy.
Your voice is beautifully haunting, have you always wanted to sing?
I actually used to be terrified of singing and was quite reluctant to do it. I had classical singing lessons from the age of 11-16, which I found quite dull, and my teacher told me I didn’t have the right type of voice to make a career out of it… but as soon as I stopped lessons I discovered my own way of doing it, and really started to enjoy seeing what my voice could do. Now I love it. It’s second nature to me.
‘True Love’ is an ethereal single, what’s the story behind it?
True Love was written in LA, and I really had the vast, dusty landscape in mind whilst writing it. It seems to me like a place where anything can happen, so I wanted there to be a real clarity among the atmosphere of the track, almost like a beacon in the darkness. It’s about showing someone who is cynical and closed off just how magical the world can be, helping them to trust others and their instincts again. It feels to me like one of those perfect summer evenings that ends far too soon, but is bursting with every emotion and re-ignites a wonder in you.
How does it feel when you finally release a track into the world?
It’s such a relief. A lot of my new releases have been in my pocket for nearly a year, and they always gain new dimensions when they’re released in to the world. It’s a pleasure handing over ownership of that song to the listener, because it can run in so many directions and I no longer have to worry about it being perfect. That’s the joy of perspective in music for me.
BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart discovered you at an open mic night and later signed you to his label – bet you’re glad you went to that open mic night now?
Absolutely! It feels like forever ago now. Phil has been such an integral part of of my career; giving me support and advice when I need it, but also as importantly, giving me space and time to work myself out. I’ve definitely come a long way since I released ‘Bare’, and that really is due to not having too much pressure on my shoulders from my team, but a reassuring hand instead.
What can you tell us about your upcoming debut album?
All of the songs have been written, and they’re really a collection of experiences – my own, my friends and families. I really wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how we work in relationships, how we cope with the bad times and run with the good. Any investment of the heart comes with pain and pleasure, but it’s how we harness those emotions that count. The album tries to deal with this.
How are you going to celebrate when it’s release?
I haven’t thought that far ahead… I want to finish it first! I can only rest when it’s completely wrapped up. I’ll probably eat far too much in celebration and then sleep it off. Then repeat. That’s how I roll.
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Featured image by Harriet Lee Brown.