Guest article by Gina Sigillito
In the last year alone, the Austin natives of Wild Child have taken this city, and the rest of the world, by storm. They have graced the stage at ACL Live, had their songs “Crazy Bird” and “The Runaround” featured on NPR’s World Café, had their video featured on MTV Hive, and received glowing reviews in Pop Matters and Paste Magazine.
Most impressively, they gained a nationwide audience when they became the featured artists on CBS This Morning and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Craig even wore the warpaint that has become the band’s signature).
Despite their overwhelming success, the five members of Wild Child remain humble to the core and true to their Austin roots. The Austinot recently spoke with Kelsey Wilson, Wild Child’s singer and violinist, about how they met, their music, their incredible year and where their journey will take them next.
The Birth of Wild Child
Wild Child began when Kelsey and Alexander Beggins began playing in a Danish band called The Migrant. The Migrant was on a U.S. tour with a stop in Austin, which happened to be Kelsey and Alexander’s home base. The band brought in Kelsey as their violinist, and discovered that Alexander was a virtuoso on virtually every stringed instrument.
Alexander and Kelsey had never met before playing in The Migrant, but they began writing songs together during the 8-week tour. As Kelsey recalls, “We realized that we could write music really well together, and we became a kind of perfect duo really quickly.”
When they moved back to Austin, they discovered they were neighbors in Hyde Park. The duo kept working together and had a whole album’s worth of material within a few weeks. They then started forming a band with other local musicians they had played with. “Instead of picking what instruments we wanted in the band, we picked our friends and family members and sort of pieced the band together that way.” It was a formula that worked, giving Wild Child a unique and disparate sound that can’t be defined.
Their Outrageous Style
Known not only for their unbridled, eclectic music, Wild Child’s live performances and creative videos are legendary. Their music videos are a throwback to the days when MTV showcased artistic pieces that reflected the creativity of their artists. The video for their song “Crazy Bird” conjures up the vibe of a Fellini film, with nonsensical images that manage to make perfect sense.
They enlisted the help of director Rob Wadleigh for their “Tale of You and Me” video. Wadleigh also worked with the Whiskey Shivers on their wildly popular video for “Gimme All Your Lovin.” As Kelsey muses, “He’s a really creative dude, but the only thing that every member of our band has in common is that we’re all pretty crazy. So when you put us together in one room to create music videos, it gets pretty random really fast. So for the ‘Crazy Bird’ video, we decided to run with what we know, which is just chaos.”
The same energy goes into their live shows. There is a joy to their performances that translates to the audience. “We’re all just really, really in love with this music. That’s another thing we all share is a distaste for bands that don’t smile onstage. We have the greatest job in the entire world. There’s no need to look miserable.” Kelsey asserts that it makes the band more energetic and joyous when they appreciate what they’re giving to an audience. “We’ve just gotten so lucky so far, that there’s no real room for attitude just yet.”
Working with Ben Kweller and The Noise Company
Wild Child is currently on Ben Kweller’s Austin-based label, The Noise Company, and working with Kevin Wommack of Playing in Traffic as their manager. “I really like the team we have now. Being on an Austin label makes it feel like a family. I love Ben and I love Kevin.” Wommack also works with the Austin band SPEAK, as well as several other local bands.
As Kelsey comments about Kweller, “Ultimately, you need to find an artist that you feel one hundred percent comfortable working with and behind.” She adds, “We’ve never worked with a label before, so starting this way with local legends feels really good.”
She also appreciates the care that Wommack takes with each of his artists. “He really takes care of you and shows up to every single show, whether you’re in New York or LA.”
Wild Child’s Crazy Success
Since the beginning of 2013, Wild Child has become the “it” band, not just in Austin, but around the world. As Kelsey affirms, “This year has been a blur.” Their CD, The Runaround, has been an unmitigated critical and popular success, and the band is slated to play this year’s UtopiaFest before embarking on a tour through Scandinavia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, the U.K. and Ireland.
As Kelsey recalls, their success started with their relationship with Ben Kweller and took off from there. “Alexander and I had both been Kweller fans since kids. We both had the same pair of Converse sneakers that we had signed by him.” The band then got a deal for a random cat food commercial, and then their spot on Craig Ferguson happened. “Really wonderful things just kept stacking on top of each other.” The band is also one of twenty nominees eligible for a $10,000 grant from Austin non-profit Black Fret.
Their appearance on the The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was the turning point for the band. “Craig Ferguson was when we all really started to freak out. We went through hours of wardrobe and makeup and then we’re doing a taping. All of us are looking at each other like ‘We can actually do this.’”
Despite all the newly found fame, Kelsey remains grateful. “There are so many great bands in Austin, so to be one of those who slips through the cracks and gains some national recognition is insane.” They are also still very much grounded in the local scene, and love playing unannounced shows around town and at smaller venues. “We love playing our secret local pop-up shows and every once in awhile we’ll say yes to a wedding request.”
As if the band hasn’t been busy enough, Wild Child is currently wrapping up their third album in the next few weeks. While on tour, they fell in love with Savannah, Georgia and chose Dollhouse Productions as their recording studio. “The people were amazing and the sound was perfect, and by the end of the day that’s where we wanted to record our next album.”
The CD will be released at the beginning of 2015, and the band will be releasing singles to give their fans a taste of the new songs. With their incredible work ethic, sense of gratitude, and their wholly original sound, Wild Child shows no sign of slowing down or being tamed.
Gina Sigillito is a writer, music promoter, and owner of Ginaraq PR. She is also the author of three books and a member of The Authors Guild, The Professional Writers of Austin and The Recording Academy, Texas Chapter.
Have your ears met Wild Child?