We got turned onto the indie-electronic duo Cry Wolf a few weeks back but haven’t had a chance to write about them yet. But if you downloaded our 100 Song Mixtape , The June Lo-File, you may have heard them on there already. If this is the first time you’re hearing them, this shit is fresh!
Listening to their stuff on Soundcloud, they immediately stood out to me . . . mostly because their sound is really hard to categorize. They mix synths and software, live percussion and digital beats, organic and synthetic vocals while balancing touchy feely R&B melodies, dirty ass dubstep production techniques and Yann Tiersen inspired piano parts to create something that’s really engaging and pushes what you’d expect from an indie electronic band. I had a few minutes to chat with one half of Cry Wolf over Facebook today. It blows me away that these guys just started making electronic music in December. It’spretty obvious that they’re working their asses off. Check out a few of their tracks below, then keep reading for the interview.
Everything Is Fine
The Home We Made
Interview with Justin Phillips / one half of indie-electronic duo Cry Wolf
TNLF: Tell us about Cry Wolf. Who’s in the “band”, where are you based and what is it you guys are doing with your music? I use band in quotes because I’m not totally sure if Cry Wolf is completely studio based or if you’re also a live band . . .
JP: Cry Wolf is Johnluke Lewis and myself and it’s an electronic music project. We combine Indie music with electronic styles to create a unique new type of music. We’re based out of Raleigh, North Carolina and perform live all over the east coast.
TNLF: How did you guys got together? I understand you came from a more traditional indie rock background. What made you guys move in the direction of electronic music?
JP: Me and Johnluke have been friends since birth. In highschool we made music together for about 3 years, and produced some local artists in our home studio, but then I moved to Manhattan for two years and we kind of stopped. When I moved back to Raleigh a year ago, Johnluke asked me to play a show with his punk/folk band, ‘Jeanluc and the Mistakes’.
I had heard Rusko play up in New York in 2009, and he had inspired me to try to get into electronic music. I was really into punk/grunge music at the time, and I wanted to try to fuse electronic and punk music together into something really grimy. I had been working on it for a while, and I decided to attempt to add some electronic flare to Jeanluc and the Mistake’s set. The show was huge, and people really loved it. After the show, me and Johnluke talked about starting an electronic side-project together, and after a couple weeks of working on it, we had our first track, Everything Is Fine.
TNLF: What do you think about the state of the music industry right now? Is it “scary” to be an independent musician? Do you see a lot of opportunities for artists or a lot of barriers?
JP: I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily scary to be an independent musician – but it’s definitely challenging. Success in the music industry right now has very little to do with how good you are, and a LOT to do with how good your PR is. If you can afford a good PR company, you can make any band successful. That, to me, is really sad. I know a lot of spectacular musicians that have 30 people show up at their shows, and I know a lot of shitty musicians that get 500+. It’s all about the PR.
TNLF: Obviously online presence is a huge part of what musicians need to work on right now. Are you guys doing anything special to get your music noticed? How do you feel about things like twitter, facebook, youtube, etc in regards to doing what musicians would rather be doing – i.e focusing on creativity and the art of making music?
JP: Unfortunately, for an unsigned musician, doing the kind of promo you need definitely gets in the way of mastering your craft. I made that mistake at first, putting too much time into promotion and forgetting about improving my skills. I really had to cut my promotion back in order to focus more on learning my craft. Ultimately, I believe it is imperative that musicians find other people to market them. If you are gifted with a creative brain, you need to be focusing on that. The music scene is filled with people who have shitty music, and are working their asses off trying to promote it. If they just forgot about promoting and focused on improving their music for a year, they would have way more success.
TNLF: Some musicians and music industry people may see blogs as “part of the problem” when it come to the state of the music business today. How do feel about blogs and their part in the big picture . . . and be honest, if you think blogs suck, you can tell us. No hard feelings.
JP: We do a lot of blog promotion. I have always been a huge fan of the blog music scene, and I think it is one of the ways in which the music industry is redeeming itself. It is really exciting to have your music featured on a big music blog, and then to later be able to search google for yourself and find five other blogs who have written about your stuff without you even talking to them. Our stuff has really taken off in the blogosphere.
Of course it’s way easier to get featured on blogs when you are backed by a reputable PR firm – I still think it’s one of the ways the music industry is being cleansed. For an unsigned artist, it’s hard to get shows, it’s hard to sell CDs, it’s hard to get signed, but it’s not that hard to get a blog to feature you if you have good music. You could have a broke-ass musician who can’t afford to do a $5 facebook ad (aka. us), but they can get on all kinds of blogs because people like their music.
TNLF: Where did the name Cry Wolf come from?
JP: I have always kept lots of notes on my phone about cool names for bands or songs, lyrics, etc. When Johnluke and I decided to start an electronic music project, I looked through my phone and saw The Boy Who Cried Wolf listed as one of my potential band names. We wanted something shorter, so we went with Cry Wolf. It doesn’t mean anything, it just sounds cool and relates to folklore so we liked it.
TNLF: What could people expect from a Cry Wolf live show?
JP: Figuring out how to do our live shows were one of the initial challenges we came under when we started playing electronic music. Both me and Johnluke are very eccentric and crazy when we perform. We have both been lead vocalists for large bands in Raleigh, so we are adamant supporters of wild stage antics. With electronic music, everything is made beforehand on a computer. When most electronic artists perform, they are more or less just playing their tracks from a computer/turntable for everyone. We really wanted to change that, so we do all kinds of cool stuff. Johnluke plays his full drum kit (he’s a phenomenal drummer, he’s actually going to Berkley in the spring for it), we play synths, vocoders, I do vocals on some songs, we really try to make it a performance. I also create my own samples and use a Akai MPD pad to play them. On some of the songs I actually play the dubstep for it with the pad, and on others I play the glitch vocals. It allows us to really get into our music and customize it for each show.
One of the other unique things about our shows is that a lot of people know the words to our songs. In the video from a recent show of ours, you can hear people chanting along to the Home We Made. Hearing that was such a treat for Johnluke and I.
TNLF: Why the move to North Carolina from New York? How are you finding the NC music scene after being in New York? Are there other musicians in NC that you think we should know about and if so who are they?
JP: Both of our parents live in Raleigh, and we grew up together here. I was going to school in New York, but I wasn’t happy with my school, so I decided to take a semester off and travel around the US before transferring to UNC Chapel Hill. I bought a motorcycle and rode out to the west coast, couch-surfing around and staying with random people. A lot of the inspiration for our music, on my part, came from that trip. Afterwards, I came back to Raleigh and me and Johnluke started working together. It was really just perfect timing.
The NC music scene is… a bit disappointing. Most people here are only in it for the money, so shows cost you out the ass and they aren’t that good. There are some really great people trying to redeem it, however, and I think they are doing a fantastic job. This guy named Andrew Fessler is one of them. He is a kind of shining light in the midst of a lot of muddy shit when it comes to show promoters/producers. His company, AudioRush, has been putting on these massive raves in Raleigh, and unlike most people, he is in it for the love of the music, so they really have a great atmosphere. They aren’t trying to charge people a fortune, and they aren’t trying to get a ton of big name producers, they use local people and put on great shows.
When I think of musicians that you should know about, two bands come immediately to mind, though one of them is actually based out of Tennessee now. The first band is Cherub. One of their members, Jason, grew up with Johnluke’s brother in Raleigh. He played at the show with Jeanluc and the Mistakes, and then joined together with this guy Jordan from Tennessee to form Cherub. Me and Johnluke have been huge fans of their music ever since they started. They are like a less dance-y, much sexier version of Passion Pit, and they are getting really big. I would definitely recommend you check them out.
The other band would be David Wimbish and the Collection, an indie/folk band based out of Greensboro. I met David through a friend when I was stranded in Greensboro on a trip to Boone, and he put me up for the night. I remember meeting him at this show he was playing and when they got on stage they just blew me away. By far one of the best live performances I have ever seen. I almost cried. They have like 15 people crammed on these tiny stages and they sound even better live then they do on their recordings. That’s really rare. They are going to be big.
TNLF: What can people expect from you guys in the next 6 months? More single tracks? EPs? An LP?
JP: We just released a sampler with five of our songs. We are working on our first LP right now. It is going in a bit of a different direction, using more abnormal song structures and a wide variety of instruments, but I think it’s even better than the stuff we have out now. I am also working on part of the soundtrack for a movie right now called Gates Of Hell, and we’ll be releasing the five tracks I’m making for it on an EP soon.
TNLF: Last question, in th spirit of twitter-like online promos, tells fans who Cry Wolf is in 164 characters or less . . .
JP: Hmmm . . . Cry Wolf is a Punk-Indie-Electronic duo from NC that will take you to the ugliest and most beautiful places you know
If you get a chance, check Cry Wolf out this summer at:
For more details, check Cry Wolf out on their Facebook Page.