Callum Wylie has spent many years honing his Country/Folk song writing style; his songs are beautifully simple and emotionally complicated all at once. After the release of the single “You Make My Tears Fall Like Rain”, Callum took some time out to fill us in on how he’s reached this point in his career.
Give us some background on your musical journey thus far.
Over the last few fears, I’ve just constantly plodded away in my bedroom on my guitar writing and trying to book gigs. It’s been a pretty steady, if not slow, progression from a few open mic nights to now, but I guess my song-writing and playing has grown most significantly since early last year. I’d been listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark and also Blake Mills (who in my mind, might be the greatest musician around at the moment) and went on a trip to the US after I finished university.
I bought a beat up but beautiful old guitar then visited Nashville amongst other places and my writing game just stepped up big time, as well as my playing. Before that, the music I wrote was very formulaic and rushed and ever since that trip and the purchase of that guitar, I’ve really looked at crafting songs more seriously. I think it’s started to show in the music that I’ve written, where I now think I’m putting out the best stuff I’ve ever done personally.
Who are your most salient influences?
Well those three I mentioned above are pretty important. Townes is one of the few people whose words still can stand alone on the page without the music, even more so than Bob Dylan at times. The same way that The Band captured the North American landscape (another huge influence) I think Guy Clark captured the individual. His song “Let Him Roll” is near perfection.
Blake Mills, if you don’t know, is this heavy hitting session guitarist and producer widely regarded as one of the best players going around today, but his song-writing is also amazing. It’s so hard to place it into one category. His recent album Heigh Ho is somehow familiar and completely foreign at the same time. He’s also a big reason for me deciding to put more time in on my guitar playing, which whilst still average, is far better than it’s ever been and as opened up a lot more doors in terms of my song-writing.
There’s also the typical ones that are hard to not mention. Bob Dylan and Paul Kelly have always been there. More recently Jeff Tweedy, Jackson Browne, Levon Helm, Gillian Welch… but this is already more than you’d probably wanted me to mention…
Is there any kinds of music that you listen to that would surprise fans of your genre?
Definitely. I have a really big appetite for consuming music so I’m always happy to listen to anything. One of the best gigs I’ve been to in recent years was Jurassic 5 at the Enmore. They just had so much energy and such awesome music behind the rapping, it was just incredible. I also still come back to heavier stuff I liked a lot more when I was at school like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, that stuff is just so powerful and exciting, it’s hard to go past it.
Do you use chaos or order to write music?
Both, I guess. I’ll play pretty regularly and write a lot but a lot of it is garbage that just sits in three folders on my computer: Incomplete/Good, Incomplete/Bad and Complete Probably (the last folder being the smallest in size by far). That’s probably the order of it, but I find by doing that and then listening to heaps of music I just suddenly have moments of clarity where I churn out my best work.
The entire second half of the single out at the moment, “You Make My Tears Fall Like Rain”, was written when I pulled over in a bus lane in Rushcutters Bay, whilst I was delivering pizza last year, so there’s some chaos in there. I just try everything and hope for the best!
I find equal amounts of country and folk in your songs. What pushed you in that direction creatively?
I think the sincerity I’ve found in a lot of those musicians, like the ones I mentioned above, is something that I really admire and strive for in my music. In a way, I feel as though the sparseness of a guitar and voice singing in that traditional folk/country way is the best vehicle for getting that sincerity across.
I mean, I love those musicians and the bigger stuff as well, but there isn’t much more honest than a guitar and a voice sitting in a room. Ultimately, that’s what I like best and admire most. Seeing people like Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings this year really reinforced that for me. There’s just so much vulnerability in everything they do. It’s really personal and I want to give that same feeling those artists give met to the people who watch me play.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more music, more gigs and more guitars!
Find out more about Callum Wylie HERE!