New York City’s Wet has returned to share with you everything they have been working on in the past year from back houses in L.A., to remote trips in Upstate New York to locked-in studio sessions in Manhattan.
It's been two years since the release of Wet’s debut album, Don’t You, that had fans and critics alike obsessed with lead singer Kelly Zutrau’s dreamy vocals and unapologetically authentic lyrics. Their newest single, ‘There’s a Reason’ reminds us why we love Wet; through Joe Valle’s calculated production that brings to life the innermost secret thoughts in Zutrau’s mind.
The single is a testament to the path that Zutrau and Valley have taken in the past two years since their initial release:
“There were a lot of challenges and a lot of changes," says Zutrau. "There were so many reasons to not make music together anymore. But something compelled us to keep coming back to it. That's what 'There's a Reason' is about.”
Their second record, Still Run, is set to come out on July 13, and through the release of their current singles, ‘There's a Reason', ‘Lately’, and 'Softens', we are eager to meet its release date.
We met with lead singer/songwriter Kelly Zutrau in the wee hours before their performance at the Velvet Underground in Toronto to discuss the conception of their sophomore album, Still Run and what they have in store for us in the coming months.
Winslow: Are you nervous for the show tonight?
Kelly Zutrau: No, I’m not that nervous…maybe I should be. Toronto is a really good crowd but it’s a discerning music crowd almost… we’ve always had really good shows here. I’m just relieved to be out of New York. Hometown shows are so intense.
We just had Boston, which is where I’m from, so it’s family and friends from the first part of my life and New York was all my current friends and industry people. It was intense, but it went really well. By the end of the day I was falling over.
Winslow: How do you emotionally prepare for a show?
Kelly: I go fucking crazy (laughs). It’s fine. I find ways to stay sane and take five minutes here and there to just go outside and stare at a wall. I try not to drink too much the night before so I’m more on. It’s intense.
Winslow: It must be a lot when you’re on the road for a long time too.
Kelly: That’s the other thing. You’re not in your normal routines with your food or bedtime or anything that makes you feel normal. It’s an interesting experience. It’s also so funny… I’ve been thinking that there’s almost nothing for the last year. I’ve just been working on the record with Joe and not doing any press and no shows, and now it’s all at once. It’s fun, but it’s 0 to 100 really fast.
Winslow: The last year you’ve been in studio and that’s such a different environment to now being on tour. How do you bridge that gap?
Kelly: I’m getting better at balancing what modes I’m in. That’s a really cool experience and I’m lucky to have that. I think being at home is easier in a lot of ways just because I feel more productive and sane if I’m in one place. I think most people do. Some people get a lot of energy out of travelling. I’m not like that normally. I have some moments and then other moments it’s like, “where are my friends?”
Winslow: Do you ever have moments where you wake up and forget what part of the world you’re in?
Kelly: Totally. One day we were at a show and I was talking to the audience and said, “Whew, Mondays… crazy right? I hate Mondays” and everyone responded, “it’s Thursday!” I had no idea what day it is and where I am really but it’s really fun.
Winslow: For your first album you relocated to Massachusetts. For this album, you were partly home-based while writing. What were those two experiences like?
Kelly: There was a lot of pressure on the first album and a lot of not knowing how to do it and not knowing what it needed to be. We felt like we had to get out of the city to focus. It was really cool to do that, but with this record, I felt much more casual about knowing there will be many albums and I should just try and capture something authentic and real and try to live my life.
We were on tour for part of the time while writing and I took a couple trips to a house in upstate New York where I was completely alone for a week in the middle of the woods writing. I did a couple of things like that. I wrote one of my favorite songs from the album on that trip.
I was living in L.A. for a couple of months with Rostam (from Vampire Weekend) and staying in his backhouse. That was really fun and I worked on a couple of songs with him while I was there.
Winslow: How does it differ on your solo trips in terms of your writing versus when you’re plugged into a studio with someone?
Kelly: I like to write alone. When it comes to Wet songs, I have to write all the words and usually I write the chords as well. That part of it for me is usually pretty solitary but then I take those songs into the studio with Rostam and he was producing them out and it was so fun. His energy is really intense and he’s a true artist.
Winslow: Can you tell us anything about the album coming out on July 13th?
Kelly: There are a couple songs out already and there are some more songs and videos coming out. I’m excited. We’re going to tour more once the album is out and we’re going to hopefully keep putting music out after that.
Winslow: What are your next couple of months looking like?
Kelly: Songs are coming out while we’re on tour and it’s all happening quickly. It’s summer and it’s been a long winter for everyone. This is a fun time to be putting the album out. After touring we will be back in New York and doing a bunch of promo. We’re planning some exciting events around the album release.
Winslow: What can we expect from your live performances?
Kelly: We’re playing with a much bigger band than we’ve ever played with which has been a goal of mine for a long time. I’ve always wanted to have a full band. We’re playing with the opening band, Inc. No World. They are one of my favourite bands so it’s really cool to have players from a band you love in your own band.
Winslow: What are the thoughts and feelings that you’re having now that everything is coming together?
Kelly: I feel really open to the process of this and however it’s going to go. I don’t have the same expectations or anxiety that I did the last time. There is obviously always some anxiety about putting anything out into the world but I mostly feel confident and ok with people liking it or not liking it.
I’m really happy with it, and I also don’t think that it’s an album that defines me forever. I think it captures a moment in my life and Joe’s life. I feel more relaxed this time and less pressure all around. I think that’s just getting older partly, having done it before, and knowing that you can’t control the outcome and you just have to like what you made and keep making stuff.
Winslow: I think that’s really important to keep the creative process going. Do you find pressure sometimes where you feel like you have to keep producing?
Kelly: I feel like that comes from me. I write almost every day and I have lots of new songs all the time. Some are good, some are bad, but I’m constantly making them. There was a time when we made the first album that I really thought, “should I be doing this? Is this good for the world? Is this good for me?”
I was really questioning why I was doing this. It kept coming back that I do have a real need to express myself in this way and I have connected with a lot of people over the years playing shows and putting music out and its felt really meaningful to me and to some of them.
The answer that I came up with is that no matter what, I’ll keep doing this. Even if we’re not on a label anymore, even if nobody is listening, I’m going to keep making these songs.
Winslow: You share a lot through your music and you are very vulnerable. What is it like sharing that with an audience and reflecting on real experiences?
Kelly: It’s generally really powerful and amazing when it’s going well, when you say something you are scared to say. In Body, there is a line that I always am thinking, “is this an embarrassing thing to say?” Is it too much when I say I feel like nobody loves me, really loves me?
When I see an audience of people. All different kinds of people singing along, then I realize that they’re not just my words, they’re for other people now too. That kind of takes the pressure off. It’s not about me, it’s about this universal experience of being a human and feeling that way and feeling like nobody loves you. I’ve started thinking about it that way. It’s about us singing it together and that’s a reason to keep doing it. If it wasn’t connecting with people then, I don’t know.
Winslow: We know what it’s like to be in the audience and to see you on stage but not often the other side. What is it like to be the one performing and creating that specific space and experience?
Kelly: I have really bad stage fright so it is really intense for me but it’s really cool. I’m trying more and more to be more present in how scared I feel out there. I do feel that at any moment it could fall apart or people could walk out and not like it or I could sing a song in the wrong key. That edge is pretty much there at all times. I’m trying to embrace it more. It’s a really intense thing to do and that’s ok.
Winslow: But you’re also human.
Kelly: And I think that’s a big part of it. I’m trying to believe that when people say it, that it’s okay when you mess up. It actually sometimes makes it better because it feels real and vulnerable. When it’s going really well there are moments that are fun and exciting and joyful. It’s all those things.
Wet will continue to tour throughout 2018. There are remaining tickets available to many of their American dates. Check here for more details about tickets and keep an eye out for their sophomore album on July 13th.