Indie pop band Wild Child has grown a lot since Alexander Beggins and Kelsey Wilson initially formed the group seven years ago. What started as a duo with a ukulele and violin has now turned into a seven-piece mini orchestra. In the wake of their fourth studio album, Expectations, I sat down for a Q&A interview with Beggins and Wilson at Savannah Stopover Music Festival to talk growth, inspiration, and the songwriting process.
VM: How did you two go about meeting everyone else and recruiting the other members of your band?
KW: I mean, we’ve gone through a few different lineups actually in the past couple years, especially with drummers and bass players. It’s kind of always been just whatever friends we have around us that want to play with us. This lineup we have now actually feels like Wild Child. It’s the dream team.
VM: Yeah, I feel like Wild Child has definitely grown a lot.
KW: It has. We’ve added guitar, a trombone, and we used to only have horns for the bigger Texas shows, but now we have a brass section. We didn’t even have a bass player for the first two years. We’ve just been slowly getting bigger and bigger.
VM: So let’s talk about your new album, Expectations. I know you’ve said your previous album, Fools, was kind of your breakup album, so where would you say Expectations falls on that spectrum? Is there a way to define it?
AB: Well, it’s kind of the closest thing to opening up a page in our journals and what’s going on at the time. With this one, there’s a little bit of duality in the title. The expectations of being our fourth record and wanting it to do well, and the kind of precedence we set for ourselves, and expectations of the relationships we’ve been in and out of the past couple of years.
KW: This one is—as much as we did write a lot just in and out of relationships—this one felt a lot more like just us, you know? Just us singing about who we are, really, and what we’ve learned so far. This is kind of like, we even wrote songs all together as a band in the studio for the first time. We haven’t done that before on any record.
VM: I know you’ve said in the past that the two of you write the skeleton of the song and then let the band add to it. So did you kind of change the songwriting process for this album and use a different method?
KW: Yeah, on this one Alexander came forward with more full songs, and then I came forward with full songs, and then some of the songs we wrote together as a band. It was a lot more collaborative.
AB: It’s kind of like the nature, the beast of this record was just write when we can. Because we were touring a lot at the time it was kind of like we were writing songs during soundchecks and writing songs in the van. It wasn’t like, “okay, today’s going to be a writing day!” There were a couple of writing retreats that we did, but for the most part we kind of would just write whenever it was convenient. And that kind of created a different kind of atmosphere.
KW: And normally we wrote when we needed to. Like, something would be happening, and we’d be like okay, let’s get together, drink some wine, and let’s write a song about it.
AB: And we kind of took our time with this record. We were like whenever it’s done, it’s done.
VM: Did you guys have a definite idea of how you wanted this album to sound, or did you just kind of let it happen how it happened?
KW: We usually just let it happen. With this one, we were working with so many different producers, and we love and respect all of them so much that we kind of left a lot of room for them to steer us. We finished the writing of the songs, but we thought when it comes to the speed, the arrangement and the vibe, we just wanted to see what the producers each had to say…they each kind of picked the songs they wanted to do, so they had ideas. So we just kind of let it ride. Initially, we were just going to release like a song a month for a year and just not do a record, ‘cause records are kind of dying, and it’s really heartbreaking. It’s all about Spotify singles now.
VM: Yeah, and you guys did release a lot of singles leading up to this album.
AB: We kind of “hybrid-ed” the idea in anticipation of this record.
VM: I feel like that’s true what you said about records dying. It’s not like many people go to record stores and buy the physical album when it’s released anymore.
AB: Yeah, it’s like you release an album when it comes out, and everyone’s stoked for like, two weeks. Then it’s over, you know? It’s done and out there in the world. So, we released singles in pairs for like three months before the record dropped. Which I thought was cool, because it kind of created some hype around it.
KW: Yeah, and we did music videos for like half the record.
VM: Do you guys have a favorite music video from Expectations?
KW: The “Think It Over” one we just did was so much fun. Literally it was just absolutely only our friends and family dressed up. We built a club in a giant empty warehouse in one day. It was just a garage, basically.
AB: Yeah, in that one we just got to have fun. Sometimes you make a video for you. We had this idea and we were like, let’s just ride with this as far as we can. The director is our homie and he knew the vibe that we wanted to try and communicate.
VM: [How has] your sound has evolved since your, slower original songs?
AB: I think that we…when we started we were just naive babies trying to make music, and I think we’ve gotten better.
KW: Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing. It’s always been good for us though, because we’re not limited to the rules of music. We didn’t know shit about anything, so we were just like, “I guess that sounds good I don’t know!” So we’ve just gotten better over the years about knowing what sounds good.
Wild Child is on tour now in support of Expectations, with shows across the US and in Europe. They played at Savannah Stopover at the historic Trinity United Methodist Church.