Wyldest (aka Zoe Mead) is an artist who is unafraid to talk about important subjects. Blending tender songwriting with the guitar patchworks of the likes of Soccer Mommy, Wyldest’s back catalog embodies an atmospheric indie rock feel, which she has become renowned for.
But on her new album Monthly Friend, Mead is more assertive than ever. “Society and corrupt governments are helpless to the strength of what we collectively will become,” Mead said in a press release for the track “Hollow,” foreshadowing the new album’s political character. But it is the theme of womanhood and all its varying dimensions that Mead explores with such openness that makes Monthly Friend her biggest musical statement to date.
EUPHORIA. caught up with Wyldest to talk about life on tour (yes, an actual tour happening right now), reclaiming your identity, and how imbalances within society inspired her new album.
Your new album is called Monthly Friend. Do you think it’s important for female artists today to talk more openly about womanhood than perhaps they may have been done in the past?
I have become a lot more open with talking about womanhood in the past few years, owning it and breaking down taboo subjects. It was fun to put a bit of that into my songwriting too. I really believe that the only way to dismantle years of oppression and inequality (of all forms) is to talk about it. I feel like in Britain particularly, we have a hard time being emotional and really saying how we feel — perhaps it’s something in the polite culture. But I want to be a bit more upfront and less apologetic about how I feel. This is something I’m learning to do with time and I think that every female can begin their journey at any point in their lives and whenever they feel ready. I feel frustrated and sad for those who go through life not recognizing the imbalance and just being OK with how things are.
I’m hoping that through my album I can communicate real feelings and emotions. Previously, I feel like I have hidden behind the music a little, drenched my vocals in reverb, the songs didn’t mean as much to me personally. I just want to be honest and raw in my songwriting now and I’d like to inspire others to do the same. The idea of someone in the world somewhere referencing me as an inspiration for producing and mixing would make my life!
Like you exude in your track “Hollow,” how important do you feel it is for change to be a constant in all of our lives?
It was the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020 and I wasn’t going out experiencing new things. I was bound by the walls of my flat, so I experienced a bout of writer’s block. It was frustrating to not be out experiencing things and meeting people, as that’s usually how a song idea starts for me.
So, I decided to start writing about a subject that I cared about. The past year has been full of inequality developments (#Me Too, Black Lives Matter) and gender inequality was something I found I could personally relate to so the lyrics in that track centre around that. But the album in its entirety is about all imbalance within society
How good does it feel to be out on a headline tour right now playing some live gigs?
Pretty surreal after so much time of not doing it. I also was half feeling like it wouldn’t go ahead. After so many other artists having canceled dates, I’ve learnt to expect less. But now I’m finally back out there, I really feel like I can be hopeful that live music will continue to recover.
I’m enjoying a much-needed day to chill at home between the tour dates right now. I forgot how much I need to look after my voice when singing night after night!
What’s the most special thing about playing in front of a live audience for you?
The vibe at an indie gig is always a very special kind of energy. Gigs in smaller venues always feel a little more niche, like you’re a part of this very unique bunch of people that care the way you do about new music. Whether I’m on stage or in the crowd, this is the most special thing to me and I feel like I’m finally getting my identity back in a way.
You write and produce your own music and pride yourself as being a self-sufficient artist. Do you think there’s been more female artists in recent years breaking down barriers in music by producing their own music and making decisions on their own terms?
God, yes. For me, it was about finding the confidence to believe it was something I could do. I didn’t have many role-models doing it growing up, but as I grew up into my twenties, I started to see more and the barriers seemed to fall away. It’s all about confidence, so seeing other females do it reminds you that you can too. As the number of female producers/mixing engineers grow, it’ll inevitably result in more females doing it – an unstoppable force of female talent in all roles within the industry.
What’s next for you?
After this solo tour, I’ll be getting the band together for a tour with Lanterns on the Lake (a band I’ve loved since I was in my teens). I also have a collection of new tunes in the making, they’re pretty rough at the moment, but I’m definitely going to spend a bit of time between touring getting them together. For me, it’s important to keep evolving musically. It keeps me sane.