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BGS 5+5: Shadwick Wilde

Aug 29, 2023

BGS 5+5: Shadwick Wilde

Artist: Shadwick Wilde
Hometown: This is a tricky one–

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and I was raised primarily in San Francisco, but we lived in Havana and Amsterdam before settling in Kentucky, ancestral homeland of my maternal grandfather. My family on my grandmother’s side were Roma and Jewish, my grandfather’s, Scotch Kentuckian. My mother took after hers, and we moved around a lot while she made documentaries and wrote poetry.

Latest Album: Forever Home (out September 22, 2023)

Personal nicknames (or rejected band names):
Sadwick, Dadwick, Sandwich, Shadooby, sometimes I am Henry, and so on. We have many names and take many forms.

What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?

If I’m doing my job well, I don’t really retain memories of being onstage… The “I” disappears into the music. Of course, if something goes badly, I will remember it for the rest of my life. But my dearest onstage memory is from recently at a festival in Wisconsin – a tattooed dad and his two punk-rocker daughters were all singing along to every word of our songs. That felt really special… I may have cried about it. I definitely cried about it.

What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?

I remember being five years old, dancing in the mirror with my plastic guitar and ripped jeans to my mother’s Bruce Springsteen records. She likes to remind me of that memory. I guess I have always known. Even though there are many career paths that I would like to explore in other lives – baker, teacher, postman, monk – this one is for songs, and I am rich with them. Laden, even.

If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?

Sing from the heart. Don’t take it too seriously. Remember to have fun, and to be kind. That’s pretty much it! We have a tendency to overcomplicate things, when the simplest answers are often the truest.

Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?

I love to watch trees. We are rich with trees in Kentucky, and out where we live on the farm (just outside Louisville). The last few years I have been trying to learn all of their names, their leaf shapes, their bark textures. A favorite hobby of mine is foraging – black walnut, mulberry, gingko. Mushrooms, too. This year we got lucky with the morels. Last year I missed morels, but was lousy with the butteriest chanterelles, from a hillside near Greenbo Lake in Eastern Kentucky.

I have always felt connection in nature, in a spiritual sense. Nurturing that connection is essential for my mental health, and, I believe, also for our survival as a species. Our dominant culture would have us believe that humankind is separate from nature, but of course we know that’s not the case. We are wholly of the Earth, our larger body. It is this imaginary separation that allows us to objectify and exploit her, which of course has brought about this very real existential threat that is the climate crisis.

How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?

This is such an interesting dance, as a writer – the one between subject and object. Every time we perform, we are creating a character for the purpose of communicating this particular story. When I was a younger songwriter, I would tend to write about things that had really happened to me – heartbreaks, epiphanies, tribulations and such. Nowadays, I don’t find my autobiography to be quite so interesting. And although there are many such personal narratives on Forever Home, the “I” and the “you” are ultimately “us,” and the perspectives of “writer” and “listener” can be interchangeable in that same way: telling the stories of the human heart and mind, that are universal in more ways than they are disparate. So yes, very often, because in the end, there is only us; only One consciousness experiencing our human and cosmic dramas through the infinite and beautiful forms we take.


Photo Credit: Wes Proffitt

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BGS 5+5: Shadwick Wilde
BGS 5+5: Shadwick Wilde