Turn the silence up with WizTheMc’s infectious, introspective and vibrant new EP Where Silence Feels Good.
The South African-born, German-raised and now LA-based singer-songwriter and rapper kicks off 2022 with the release of Where Silence Feels Good EP. His 2020 viral single For A Minute showcased what makes him so special and subsequently introduced Wiz to a wider audience. However, it’s his latest project where Wiz truly shines. Perfectly balancing introspective stories and meaningful lyrics with infectious big and catchy choruses, his latest project displays an artist who has truly found his confidence and most importantly is not afraid to experiment both vocally and musically. In collaboration with producer Jeff Hazin, this is by far Wiz’s best music to date. While we are still supplied with the feel-good bops, Wiz goes deeper showing a side that we’ve yet to have seen from previous releases.
Over a virtual interview, 1883 had the opportunity to talk in-depth to Wiz about the writing process behind Where Silence Feels Good EP, his first live shows in Berlin and tour around America whilst discussing the importance of manifestation and how his “badass” all-female backing band The Aphrodite’s came about.
Firstly, congratulations Where Silence Feels Good is officially out now for everyone to listen to. This project is a follow-up to What About Now, can you tell us about the meaning behind the title of this EP?
It has multiple meanings. On the spiritual side, Where Silence Feels Good is about finding a place whether it be through meditation or other forms of practice. It’s also about the silence between romantic partners. When you’re with your significant other where you can go for a walk and neither of you need to talk. It’s about that space where silence feels good. I also realised how the meaning is personal for me. Over the course of making this EP I’ve been also seeking a place where silence feels good. The last one and a half years for me have been so hectic. I left Toronto a year ago right after a heartbreak and then went to LA straight after for the first time. I felt I haven’t really had a stable home for the entire year. I feel like subconsciously I am always looking for a place where silence feels good for me.
Listening to Where Silence Feels Good lyrically it feels like a more vulnerable and introspective body of work and sonically it sounds fuller in its production with underlying indie-pop-leaning influences. To what extent was this a conscious decision or did you feel the music was writing itself in that direction?
In a way the music’s writing itself but I would say a strong component is collaboration and what that unlocks for me and my music potential. Working with Jeff Hazin, who produced a big part of this EP. He opened the door for all these new lyrical paths and melodies. Even vocally. At the end of the very first session together he said “I think you have a singing voice that wants to come out.” I thought about it. Then the second track we made was Break then Everything and then Stoned Nights. This was all in a couple of weeks. He really guided me to use my singing voice.
I first came across For a Minute and couldn’t get enough of that track. After several listens of Where Silence Feels Good I think I’ve got my favourite track off the EP – Break. Which track means the most to you? Which song did you find the hardest to finish and why?
I think the most special track is Everything. Just because I remember the way it came about. Jeff and I met at a diner and we had a burger and a beer. Then I remember going to the studio. He picked up an acoustic guitar and started playing the chords which are now the intro and outro chords. And the chorus…not going to lie just came within 30 seconds of him playing it [starts singing the melody]. Once we had the chorus, we then wrote the verses in like half an hour. There’s something special about songs that just come out. No second thought on either side of the collaboration. He also sent the bounce the same night, which he never usually does. I remember just crying for like 5 minutes when I heard it back. The feeling the song gave me, especially hearing the chorus for the first time again. It was something I’d always wanted to express but was never able to get across.
Was that vocally or lyrically?
I think it was both. I felt like with Everything I touched upon something I always wanted to express but never had access to. It hit me. It was a pure feeling. Now I find that my favourite track changes every time I listen to the project.
Which song did you find the hardest to finish and why?
I think Premature Love. The hard part was that I was in a situation with a girl around the time of writing that song. I wrote it directly about her and me wanting to be in love immediately. The hard part about that was it felt too real…it was too close. Sometimes I tend to take things from the past and reflect upon them. But this track was me writing about something that was happening at that very moment. It was scary. I wasn’t sure if I should do it or if it was too personal. Am I exposing myself too much? To the point where I never even showed the girl this song because I thought what if she finds that I’m too into her. I didn’t want to scare her off [laughs]. But look, we never worked out in the end, so I guess the song has to [laughs].
Do you ever send these demos or song ideas to these people before they’re released?
So many artists are transparent with that. They’d say “oh yeah that this song is about the girls that they’re seeing.” To me, when I would date a girl, I would just show her all my songs [laughs]. It’s like whoever I’m seeing the most, she would know my whole unreleased discography.
Watching a few live performances, it seems that you love performing your songs and love connecting with fans. You recently performed your first live show both in Berlin and in America, how do American and Berlin audiences compare?
I think the most important distinction to draw was that in Berlin the people came for me. They brought a Wiz ticket. Whereas in America, I played festivals where you have to win over people. I found that really exciting and the most challenging part. But the feeling of playing my first show in America was crazy. I remember the first show out there being a big turnout in Sioux City, Iowa. It was the biggest stage I’d ever played on and the first show playing with my band. It was just crazy. I remember after my performance I wanted to just go round the festival to check out other acts. I got stopped for like half an hour straight. All these people were coming up to me. Asking for pictures. I was even signing shoes…even this kid’s forehead [laughs]. Just everything. It was incredible.
What would a younger WizTheMc have thought of you now?
It was a feeling I wanted for a long time. I remember being a kid and wanting to be a musician in America. This is just the beginning. You know growing up you see age as just being linear, but in between you have these depressive phases where you feel alone. Now I’m here, I feel distant from the younger me. It’s an emotional distance. So sometimes I find it hard to have that perspective. But I try every day to be like “wow I really am here.”
As an artist you are either performing live shows to hundreds if not thousands of people or you are shut off from the world whilst you’re writing and recording either in isolation or with just a few other creatives. As you’ve grown, how have you found these two contrasting environments and do you have a preference?
I think it’s both. It’s hiding from the world, turning my phone off and just writing and being on stage. Both are my favourite places. I struggle the most with the in-between [laughs]. It’s the waiting. I find when I’m creating, I’m with the craft. I’m feeling it. Often, I’m so deep in it that I forget the world. As well when I’m on stage I forget everything. It’s just about the music that started in a room and is now being heard by the real world. Sometimes, especially in between music releases, it can be hard to keep that momentum alive. Usually, after a studio session, I would have a show planned or coming up. That’s the ideal situation. I feel as an artist I can then take that energy from the studio onto the stage.
Where Silence Feels Good certainly displays your vocal prowess as well as your knack for writing catchy vocal hooks, with the single Everything highlighting this. As a rapper as well, to what extent do you find yourself questioning whether you should be rapping or singing in verse sections of songs?
It depends. Last year I found myself shying away from rapping, which now I want to be more open to again. I’ve been rapping more on newer music that I’ve been working on in the studio. It’s funny. I think that singing is kind of cheating if you’re a rapper. You’re using less words and just stretching them out vocally. When I approach singing it’s cool and a reason why I love these big choruses like on Stoned Nights and Everything. I find I can put this extra energy and attention into these few words that I’m saying. It’s still different worlds to me, the rapping and the singing. When I write a song, I try to sing something big for the chorus and when I like that, I rap or sing/rap the verses. It’s all dependent on the vibe in the studio.
I read that you are a big believer in manifestation and that prior to starting your music journey you planned out a 10-year vision. Did you have a daily routine that you stuck to? How do you keep on track during tougher times?
The 10-year plan was very direct. I wrote down where I was and where I aspired to be. At that point, it was to be in LA with a bunch of cars and chains. Bar the chains and the cars, I made it out to LA [laughs]. I learnt it from a Ted Talk. You write down what you have to do as an artist to get there. I remember back then a few things were freestyle and write as much as possible and to lose your accent [laughs].
Why did you feel like you had to lose your accent?
It didn’t come across well. Now I’m at a point where there’s a certain fusion to my voice that I probably won’t really get rid of. And I’m not trying to get rid of it. At the start it just sounded weird and something that you wouldn’t want to listen to. I knew through rapping and repetition that I would acquire a certain voice where things would be clearer and people overseas can connect to. I wasn’t trying to change too much of who I was but just make it more accessible and familiar. But going back, I don’t think I had a strict daily routine. I just did it every day because I loved it.
I was going to ask if you think you were disciplined, but I guess because you loved it, it doesn’t matter as it was something you’d do regardless…
Yeah. It’s weird. I mean I was a stoner [laughs]. In some ways I was disciplined but then it was all I was good at and I knew it was all I had to work on. It was a specific thing. It was freestyle and rapping. So, I never felt disciplined in that sense. I never compared myself to other people. But it changed for me once I saw that there were people online. That whole social media thing. Before I would just do it and have fun. I wouldn’t even think twice about it. That was an advantage. I never got emotionally or psychologically involved in what anyone else was doing.
Listening to your earlier work from tracks such as Dreams and Promises (Drake track you can see you’ve been influenced by lyrical rappers like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Russ, as you are to pop and indie-influences. Have you found that your musical influences change as you progress further in your musical journey? If so, who were major influences for you when writing and recording Where Silence Feels Good?
I’m an odd music listener. It’s almost like listening to music, for me it’s like going to the gym…I have to convince myself [laughs]. It’s so weird to say. Last week I discovered that music can put you in a good mood. Now I’m back listening to OG Bruno Mars. I was making breakfast the other day, listening to his older stuff. I was just feeling good. I’m too deep into the YouTube psychological bubble. I love to absorb information about interesting people and so I don’t really listen to too much music. But Bruno Mars is someone I’m listening to again. Then there’s my favourite artists. You know, like Kendrick and Cole. For the past 2 to 3 years, I’ve also been a huge fan of Dominic Fike. I love his music. When I found his music, I was like “holy shit” this is so different and cool. He showed me that you could mix singing and rapping and it can be cool. He definitely opened the door for me in that sense.
Late last year you performed at Sioux City, Iowa and from what I’ve seen you and the band seemed to love every moment on stage. It was also cool to see an all-female backing line. Nowadays you see many artists perform with just a backing track, what was your decision to bring a full band out with you?
First of all, women are badass! You know. It wasn’t some thought out marketing plan. I have a really strong relationship with my mum. I feel I have a more feminine side than most of the other guys that I at least know. I just connect to that. It was almost a no brainer. I wanted a band and I also wanted it to be all female. I later on found out that Prince also had an all-female backing band. Well, I guess…great minds think alike [laughs]. Also, I don’t want to deal with a bunch of guys on the road [laughs]. The name of my band is the Aphrodite’s.
Lastly, what can fans expect from WizTheMc in 2022?
The EP and just lots of new music. Lots of dope shit I’ve been working on. I’ve never been more excited than this year. It’s exciting. Just lots and lots of dope shit [laughs].
Where Silence Feels Good is out now, follow WizTheMc via @wizthemc
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