Words by Jasmine Bourgeois
Banner photo by Kevin Blackistone
Wume is a project rooted in experimentation. Formed by Albert Schatz and April Camlin in 2010, it began as a low stakes exploratory project but later became a more defined drums and synth band. Wume has a genuinely unique sound. It’s cerebral, but soothingly rhythmic.
It wanders across a diverse sonic landscape, but ultimately is grounded in solid musical expertise and the kind of coordination that comes from years of playing together and fine-tuning to each other’s natural rhythms. Wume will be releasing their newest album Towards the Shadow on November 9th, and the first single off the album, “Shadow,” dropped on September 21. Tom Tom got a chance to talk to Al and April about their writing process, the Baltimore scene, and future plans.
TTM: Could you tell me more about how you met and how this project started?
Wume: We met in Baltimore, through the music scene, when Al was on tour with his band Bird Names. April moved to Chicago in 2009 and we started playing music together without any real aim other than to experiment with polyrhythms and practice our respective instruments (drums and synthesizer). In 2010, our friends Future Islands and Lower Dens invited us to open for them at the Hideout and we decided then that we were a band.
TTM: Individually, what are your backgrounds in music?
April: I played percussion in my middle school band. I played for four years in a Central Javanese gamelan in Chicago, and generally existed in the DIY music scene in Baltimore and Chicago.
Al: I also went through the school music program from 2nd grade to senior year of high school (trumpet) but didn’t find the real pleasure and creativity in music making until I started playing intuitively with self-taught musicians in the Chicago DIY music scene in the mid-2000s.
TTM: You guys make some really interesting music, and it’s impressive how the combination of synth and drums manages to fill so much musical space. I’m curious what your songwriting process is like — would you describe it as something purely experimental, or are there specific sounds and styles you set out to create?
Our songwriting process has evolved over the years but I feel like the foundation we started with still remains. Finding a groove or a loop, jam on it and see where it takes us. We really love grooves that are oblong and make you feel loose and cerebral. Zoned in and zoned out simultaneously.
TTM: Sonically, this new album creates an interesting landscape. You play with a lot of styles and cover a wide range, yet there’s still an identifiable “Wume” sound. What/who were some of your influences?
We’re fans of anything that makes you feel kind of strange and lucid. We experience that feeling from music found all over the world and throughout history. We could sit down and listen to Ravel, Sun Ra, Erkin Koray, Alice Coltrane, Francis Bebey, Cluster and Midori Takada and feel connected to their conversation.
TTM: What’s the electronic music scene in Baltimore like?
The electronic music scene in Baltimore is small but has a lot of depth in terms of styles (dance oriented/experimental/noise). Like most small scenes, it’s really supportive and nurturing. Although the music scene in general is still feeling the impact of the Ghost Ship fire, a lot of spaces have been shut down or aren’t running currently. But the drive to create is strong and folks are still generating powerful music.
TTM: What’s coming up for you in the next few months?
We’ll be releasing our new record, Towards the Shadow, in November on Northern Spy. In October we head to Europe to open for Beach House, and we’re putting together an east coast tour for the album release. We’re working, as always, to improve and merge our practice and recording setup, and working on new songs.
11/28/18: Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA
11/29/18: Mahalls – Cleveland, OH
12/02/18: Kaiju – Louisville, KY
12/03/18: Dirty Dungarees – Columbus, OH
12/05/18: Mothlight – Asheville, NC
12/06/18: Kings – Raleigh, NC
12/07/18: The Bridge PAI – Charlottesville, VA
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