Since releasing his first record in 2010, Will Wiesenfeld – aka Baths – has never been an easy artist to describe. Though he exists within the electronic music realm, his songs have never been that straightforward; they’re unorthodox, subdued pieces of chill electronica, layered with clicking beats, bass samples and his brooding falsetto on top.
The Baths project – named after his love of dwelling on music in the bath when he was growing up – became an open palette for what Wiesenfeld wanted to achieve as a musician as a whole. As a teenager, he began to gravitate towards being a singer/songwriter, but he felt playing single instruments while singing was restricting; if he was in a traditional band, there was the risk of it all falling apart for one reason or the other. “It was just this immediate appeal to me that’s like, ‘oh, in that realm I can do everything, and I don’t have to worry about breaking up with myself or anything’. If I can get good enough at the different components of making music all on my own, then I don’t have to have that lingering fear of the possibility that it might just stop happening, like I might just stop making music,” he tells me over the phone from his home in Los Angeles.
As a solo artist, the only creative ego you have to confront is your own. Wiesenfeld has had enough practice in both the ups and downs of making music in this way; he’s come to terms with the fact that sometimes songs fail, and it’s just part of the process. “I’ve been making music for long enough that I don’t get into cycles of negativity or anything like that; I’ve been doing it for long enough that it doesn’t phase me, and it’s just how it works. So I deal with my ego on that end. On the other end of it, where I think I’m way too cool or something, where I’ve done something especially awesome, I’m good at tempering myself and not having too much pride about it, keeping it in perspective.”
This balance is one that’s not only present in his writing method, but also in the finish product. Baths exists on a plane between happy and sad; tension and release; anxiety and bliss – he acknowledges the darkness but still holds on to the flickering light. Wiesenfeld spends a lot of time in our conversation talking about how – despite the fact he’s an overwhelmingly positive person – the intricacies of human emotion inform how he creates the atmosphere in his songs. “I’m a big fan of that movie Inside Out, and I think maybe the most crucial lesson that you can show to, adults, certainly, but to young kids that are just figuring out their emotions. When the main sad character is sad, she doesn’t need happy people around her going ‘what’s going on, why aren’t you happy?’, she needed to indulge in those emotions, and be like ‘I am sad now, I need to feel sad’ in order to overcome them.”
“As long as the song makes you feel emotional, even if you can’t pin down what it is. That’s key for me.”
He applies this same nuance to his own music, making for an emotionally ambiguous listen, which is what he always sets out to do. “It’s about whether that emotion is strong or not, even if you can’t really define what’s going on, as long as the song makes you feel emotional, even if you can’t pin down what it is. That’s key for me. Some of my absolute favourite songs in the world, I can’t totally explain what they make me feel or why they make me feel that way, but there’s something that makes me feel really strongly about them,” he explains. However, any darkness of previous albums is completely transposed on upcoming release Romaplasm – it’s heartfelt, romantic and the most unreserved Wiesenfeld has ever been on record to date. Explaining how he channelled frenetic energy into this record in ‘plasma’ and the title is a made-up portmanteau of romantic philosophy, he added: “I just wanted something that was stronger, but then also at the same time way more in touch with where my heart is actually at. ‘Romaplasm’ just seems like an encompassing space for romanticism, in my head, and I think that makes a lot of sense for the record – a little pocket universe where all the things that fall under that banner can live and coexist.”
[types field=”buy-link” title=”Buy”][/types] [types field=”text-widget”][/types]