Monday, July 9, 2012

Chicago musician Xoe Wise explores new ground on latest album


The Chicago music scene became much stronger after North Carolina native Xoe Wise decided to leave the Outer Banks for the Windy City.

In celebration of her new CD, "Archive of Illusions," Wise,, will bring her wistful vocals on July 20 to Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, as part of a full band record release show.

Duck and Goose and Little Light Music also are on the bill. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $10, available at

Q - Great to talk to you. Your sophomore album, "Archive of Illusions," debuted at #41 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart and then was put in iTunes "new and noteworthy" section. Did that surprise you? Did you think the album would be as accepted as well as it has been?

Thanks for your time as well! It’s been a trend that the more I grow, the less I expect. 

It’s beautiful and ironic how the more familiar we are with life, the more surprised we can be. This is especially true when we take the time to stay aware and lose expectations. 

I have such kind and supportive people so releasing this record felt fine. I don’t have a large enough following that I’m risking disappointing people by changing things, and that’s a fun place to be in!

Q - In sitting down to make the new album, what goals did you have? Did you feel pressure in following up your first album?


Well, it was right before our Lincoln Hall show last year when I had my first full band rehearsal; it was a disaster. Then I went home and made some folders and food for everyone. 

Things slowly got better and the seven of us created the first ever full Xoe Wise band! This sound was so fun to make and I wanted everyone who played on stage to be a part of the record. 

Dee Wilson and I are inseparable souls now. You can hear him singing and playing keys all over the record.  

Q - Explain the album's title and how the songs fit into the album's theme.

“Archive of Illusions” was a hard title for me to decide on at first. I went through a musical waterfall of songs last spring in my writing. 

These songs ended up having very little to do with what was going on in my life. I had plenty going on, but somehow emotions weren’t finding themselves in my songs. 

Sometimes I would look back and realize why I wrote something which was a fun puzzle, but it was also confusing why I felt so passionate about putting “Rhode Island” on paper when I had never been there. 

“Home,” however is super honest and is about family. Everything ended up being some version of an illusion. I pictured a tree that opened with each song sitting as a filed poem.

Q - What made you want to move to Chicago? How is the music scene in North Carolina different from the Chicago music scene? How do you see yourself fitting into the scene?

Chicago - I love you! I never expected to live in Chicago. 

Salt water flows through me and I embrace the humidity like a love. I came here for change and got just that. 

NC’s music scene is great in some places. The mountains host amazing festivals and creative spaces, but I was from the Outer Banks where the fishing tournaments happen. 

I would make some cash playing outside the boats but things stay very still there. I see myself fitting into the Chicago scene as….interesting. 

I think we have to experiment and have fun and then gift those pieces of art we found in exploration. So as a musical gift giver, I will be here.

Q - On the new album, you cover the song "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star. I understand your first vinyl record was "So Tonight That I Might See," which of course, features the song. What did you want to do in covering the song and do you think you are influenced by the band?

I am blown away by Mazzy Star. It takes me back to a rough time when I was little. 

There was a lot of loudness in our house and only certain sounds stayed with me in a positive fashion. Not that Mazzy Star is especially upbeat, but the music is weird, rich, emotional, and allows for escape. 

I think even the five-year-old me was attracted to these things. In covering Mazzy Star, I wanted to close my eyes and sing a beautiful song.

Q - It seems like there are many ways for a musician to get exposure these days. Do you think it is easier to be a musician these days?

I am very grateful for the avenues of exposure. I love to play music and I really appreciate those who help share. 

What’s cool is most of these avenues still take work. I believe in working very, very hard and of course with the heart! Muscles of our soul will take things much further. 

Dig into yourself for words. Don’t Be Lazy. Relax. Have Fun. Be Nice.

Q - Speaking of that, you have teamed up with How did you hook up with them and do you think it is a good way for independent musicians like yourself to get their music out to more people?

1Band1Brand is such a great team! They send out the message about independent musicians and fashion artists that we need fans support by word of mouth more than ever. 

Labels and distributors are no longer where people will hear our music. The whole team does a great job introducing emerging, independent musicians and fashion labels. I’m happy to work with such great people.

Q - What's your next goal?

I just moved so I’m very excited to start writing and recording in new ways - just to experiment more.