Image credit: Michael Erickson
Producer WMD release his latest track ‘Nowhere’ under Natural Blonde. WMD, moniker Michael Erickson, produces complex and fervent music contrasting the internet chiptune music inclinations of his earlier days. With ‘Nowhere’, Michael, presents a feast of fused acoustic guitar strings, violas and electronic organs to produce a track that is gentle and listener-friendly. The violas sweep through the song, giving it a dreamy quality that is intermittently altered by dominating acoustic guitar or electronic organs, and the result is that listeners are soothed and simultaneously awakened. iGuitar sat down with WMD to get much-needed information on the new track.
Stream / Download: WMD – ‘Nowhere’
What are the hidden messages in the song?
I’ve never really been one to include hidden messages in my music. I think the coolest thing about instrumental music is that it leaves everything up to interpretation by the listener. That emotional context becomes unique to them with the song.
Why did you decide to name this song ‘Nowhere’?
I decided to name the song ‘Nowhere’ mainly because of where I wrote the first part of it — in a remote cabin on a lake in Montana. A lot of this album was written during a period of solitude in my life as well, so I guess both mentally and physically I was nowhere when I wrote it!
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
I’d probably say my sound falls somewhere in between chillwave, ambient electronic, downtempo, and shoegaze. I’ve always struggled to define it in short terms though, to be honest!
Which three albums have influenced you the most creatively?
Baths – Pop Music / False B-Sides (2011). This album continues to be the most inspiring electronic music record I’ve ever heard. Every track is so full of experimentation, and you can really hear the boundless creativity of the artist on every song. It makes me want to sit down and write whenever I hear it.
LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (2007). Probably my favorite album of all time, front to back. This album taught me so much about the power of dance music, where before in my middle school brain I had always just thought f dance music as something that couldn’t hold any emotional weight. One listen of ‘All My Friends’ and I immediately knew how wrong I was. This band really blew open an entirely new world of music for me with this record, not to mention that this was also the first time I ever became interested in hardware synthesizers. I have a vivid memory of being 13 years old and hearing ‘Someone Great’ for the first time, running to my computer, and frantically trying to figure out how to replicate those sounds.
Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation (2011). This album was the first vinyl record I ever bought, which meant that I listened to it obsessively for months after I received it. I grew up in a pretty small town and the closest record store was hours away, meaning that I had to pick the records I had a lot more carefully. I never once lamented that fact once I started listening to this album though. Each song is so drenched with reverb and a very specific lofi quality that I really haven’t been able to find anywhere else. That production style definitely found its way into my own work, both because I was trying to emulate what ended up becoming the soundtrack of my early teens, and because I had subconsciously been absorbing that record over and over for such a long time.
Tell us about the key pieces of equipment that you use to define your sound?
The piece of gear I own that ends up on almost every song I make is my modular synth setup. What drew me to the modular environment at first was the fact that you get to pick each individual part yourself, so what you end up with is a piece of equipment that is completely unique to your workflow and desired sound. In hardware, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Is there any “non-musical” ingredient that is essential to crafting your sound?
Over the past few years, I’ve started taking long walks almost every night with nothing but my camera, a book, and a little notepad. I live a couple of miles away from a beautiful boardwalk with little benches all over it, so my nightly routine has turned into reading by the water, and watching the sunset. It definitely helps my creativity to get away from my house and do something completely removed from music for a while.
Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
My answer probably would’ve been different pre-pandemic, but nowadays I definitely prefer studio work. I have a complete home studio setup at my home, so it’s really comforting for me to be able to wake up and have everything I need right there for me. Playing shows is still really fun, but they’re definitely a bit more spaced out for me now.
What has been your most memorable performance so far?
Earlier this year I got to share the stage with Washed Out, who was always one of my musical heroes when I was getting into chillwave music. Just having the chance to chat with him for a while in the greenroom before the show was a dream come true.
And which performance would you prefer to forget?
I perform with Ableton Live, and early on when I was still learning the technical ropes of playing shows with that software, I had a show where I had forgotten to export all of my tracks as simple audio files before my set, meaning that I was trying to strain my laptop to load approximately 15 project files at once. The first part of the show went fine, but about 3/4 of the way through my set, my laptop completely flat-lined and I had to abruptly end my set. Definitely learned from my mistake though, and it hasn’t happened since!
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
Last year, I received my master’s degree in Education, with the goal being teaching studio recording at the post-secondary level. Getting that degree also coincided with my own music becoming my full-time job though, so right now it’s a very comfortable backup plan.
Tell us about any upcoming shows or releases you have in the pipeline.
My new album ‘Deliquesce’ is releasing in February 2023. Expect one more single from me before the year is over!
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