- Words Cal McIntyre
We caught up with the ethereal and haunting Baltimore artist, serpentwithfeet, to dissect his latest otherworldly EP 'Apparition' and why leaning towards the light will overrule the dark...
Josiah Wise, the moniker of serpentwithfeet, has been cementing his status and power of creating some of the greatest melting-pot of abstract and ethereal music.
Combining nostalgic Gospel from his childhood with experimental post-midnight R&B, serpentwithfeet’s idiosyncratic vocal ability reaches new heights and transcends the listener into the light within his latest EP ‘Apparition’.
On ‘Apparition’, serpent is able to reach into the heavens through his flexible vibrato as his narrative of queer love and releasing emotional trauma through seeking the light is a climax that can’t be matched. The three-track EP can be listened to as a trilogy – presenting the flipside to the rise and fall. Serpent ultimately leaves the fall and opts for the rise as his outlook matures and thickens with kindness and wisdom as the EP reaches its conclusion.
All three songs on the EP were produced by Wynne Bennett, and if you haven’t heard it yet, it is one of the greatest EP’s to be released in 2020 with its emotive attachments and unique representation of serpent’s experiences. The intent is to take you on a journey, and some music just can’t be explained – it simply has to be felt.
We caught up with the mystical yet down to earth serpentwithfeet to check in and see how he’s doing in isolation, how it feels to make room for all the good things and how ‘Apparition’ came to be.
With the world being such a tumultuous state, it’s more important now than ever to check in with how someone is doing spiritually and mentally. “I’m doing good,” serpent begins, “I’ve had a good morning so far – I feel generally relaxed and calm which is a gift right now [laughs].” Releasing any type of work in these times is definitely an odd one. “I was a little bit nervous about it in the beginning,” serpent tells me about releasing ‘Apparition’. “When it first came out, it actually felt like a release. I’m so happy that it’s out and people have responded really well to the EP!” Rightfully so, the EP is an amazing body of work.
In terms of the duality of EP – serpentwithfeet seems to fluctuate between the light and the dark with the balance of life coming into play, resulting in the crescendo of ‘Apparition’ seeing serpent fall in love with his psyche. When I ask if this is reflective to where serpent is at in his life he tells me “absolutely”. “The pain I was experiencing in life, some of it was my own doing or that I allowed into my space like when I moved to LA I was convinced that I wasn’t going to write any more sad songs which was obviously so foolish [laughs]. A lot of things that began to vex me weren’t really problems of my own, and I think you can hear that within the EP as I make room for good things rather than harbouring onto problems that weren’t mine.”
With the idea of fate coming into play, serpentwithfeet tells me that “I believe things happened the way there were supposed to happen”. “I think it’s important to know what our boundaries are,” serpent tells me. “I’m really interested in walking to the edge of the cliff and not jumping just to know where that boundary is – ‘A Comma’ is definitely that edge.”
Turning away from what doesn’t make you feel good is perhaps the learning lesson for serpentwithfeet within ‘Apparition’. Explaining to me that cutting out certain things in his life – whether it be tv shows, behavioural patterns or people, seems simplified to the way he crafts the arc in his music that contains a multitude of genres and metaphors. Within that process, serpent tells me, “I worked with a brilliant producer, Wynne Bennett, who I structured and produced the songs with. It was a lot of fun working on this project and it exists because she and I are friends. We would put together cocktails, sit outside and make music – the freedom and the fun that went into making this EP was just how we would spend our weekends.
It’s clear to see and hear that serpentwithfeet is leaning more towards the calm and the mornings. There’s a certain kind of light and generosity that shines through brilliantly within his EP. When it comes to his visuals, serpent tells me, “I wanted things to be quiet – I wanted this particular cycle of songs to feel a lot more reflective as that where’s I am at in life.”
When it comes to the origins of serpentwithfeet, he tells me, “I just really love snakes [laughs]. I love King Cobras, specifically, because they do prefer to eat other snakes. I think the idea of eating things similar to you is cool [laughs].” When it comes where serpentwithfeet’s music rests, it exists within and without musical genres. Closely aligned to his love for Gospel and R&B – they can be found embedded within the classical DNA of his tracks, but you never really know what to expect. I guess that’s the beauty of serpentwithfeet.
If you haven’t already, immerse yourself in serpentwithfeet’s climatic EP ‘Apparition’ below.