Interview: Five minutes with Wolf Saga
Image credit: Michael Alexander
Embark on a journey of social commentary and defying gender norms, narrated by indie-pop musician Wolf Saga. His latest release, ‘Get Back’ (taken from his self-titled album) was written in response to watching a scene that we’re all too familiar with – a man who simply won’t take no for an answer. Within the Wolf Saga album, fans will find a similar thread of songs inspired by relevant social issues (including the injustices faced by the Saga’s Ojibwe community, the BLM movement and police brutality). However, the musician allows himself to delve into the softer side of life – also singing about friends, lovers, family members and everyone in between.
Catch a glimpse into this complex mind in the exclusive interview below:
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Music has always been an escape, a soundtrack to my life. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of creating art. I think everyone does, and everyone in some capacity succeeds whether it’s a whistle or a symphony.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
This one varies every time. Some come in a hum or idea and then some I think about in more depth – like what kind of song I want to go for or what style or influence.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
My album features an indigenous group called the Chippewa Travellers on the track “Hear Us”. I also released a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” during quarantine in May 2020; it features a good friend of mine Danny Miles (he played drums for the rock band July Talk). Other than that, there haven’t been any collaboration on any of my releases. It’s definitely something I’d be open to exploring more in future songs and projects.
What’s on your current playlist?
Foster the People, Future Islands, Vox Rea, Beach Boys, Supertramp, Hall & Oates, Caribou
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Being on stage is the best part of this whole thing. When you look out there and see a fully immersed set of eyes, really listening and really giving your art and expression some undivided attention.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I like to run synths through different pedals or fx to find a cool combination. I’m also a big fan of plugins and VST’s, messing around with textures and frequencies has never been so advanced.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Show up to work, utilize the time! I definitely like to go in with the ideas ready. Bring in my guys to lay down some stuff, the guys I play with in concert. I’ll sort of direct them and the way I see things in my head. Oh, spicy ramen for lunch too!
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
There’s been many I feel. But I think the biggest one has been when a person had gotten a lyric tattooed on them. It helped them get through a loss of a parent, and other down times. To know that something I created was able to help another person to that extent, it really changes things.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Well, I have a tattoo of my grandma on my hand. She helped raise me and has been a big role model and moral compass my whole life. So it’s extremely special that I get to see her up there on stage with me.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Vox Rea, Von Sell, Millionyoung
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Listening to music! I spend at least an hour when I wake up every day just listening to music.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Not right now, it’s all Wolf all the time!
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
My production skill has improved so much, as well as my vocals. I think the ideas, simple as they still are sometimes, have a lot more depth to them.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
Album remixes, new songs, maybe a cover or two!
Famous last words?
Listen to your matriarchs.
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By Sarah Britton