In the Spotlight: Wild Cub

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Wild Cub, an up-and-coming indie rock band from Nashville, has been getting plenty of attention due to the Jan. 21 release of their debut LP, Youth, and their show at the Midland in Kansas City on Oct. 9. Keegan DeWitt, the lead singer of Wild Cub, discussed the mysterious and intriguing themes of Youth, the value of small moments and telling stories through music and the band’s love for Kansas City.

The singer says that the primary reason for Wild Cub’s formation was the shared desire to be in a band.

“[Jeremy Bullock, Dabney Morris, Harry West, Eric Wilson and I] had all kind of been floating around in Nashville, whether we were trying to be musicians, producers, or singer-songwriters,” DeWitt said. “Nashville’s a kind of weird inversion of the rest of the world in that mostly people here are just single players in a bunch of different bands or singer-songwriters. There’s not a lot of bands here. So I think that was one thing that kind of pulled us all together.”

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DeWitt said that the band was fascinated by the idea of creating an album that was shrouded in mystery.

“We were all attracted to the concept of not releasing records that were so centered around us, specifically. When you’re a singer-songwriter, the record cover is your face and it has your name in really big letters. There was something appealing about letting the record be a little more mysterious and a little more eclectic,” DeWitt said.

Elements such as perplexing lyrics make the music more intriguing in DeWitt’s mind because they engage the listeners.

“I always kind of invest in the fact that mystery or the lyrics being a little bit evasive engage people’s imaginations. [They] engage people’s personal history or their past relationships, and by engaging people you’re instantly going to arrive at something way more interesting than anything that you could literally hand them,” DeWitt said.

In addition to mystery, the singer views music as a means of storytelling. DeWitt formerly scored films and had hopes of becoming a film director, and it is evident that storytelling is a key component of Wild Cub’s music.

“I just feel like there’s a virtue in telling stories and there’s a long lineage of telling stories. For me, I was excited about telling the stories of moments. I was more excited about trying to shine a light on what the smaller, simpler resonant moments of your life are,” DeWitt said.

Like many songwriters, DeWitt has a specific way in which he composes music. He often begins the process with a simple melody.

“It’s very rare that I’ll write lyrics first. I’ll write melodies first. I mean a lot of times, the challenge is writing words that can fit into the melodic construct that I’ve already thought of on the demo where I’m just singing nonsense,” DeWitt said.

As a lyricist, DeWitt focuses on being enigmatic and puzzling.

“There’s kind of a deeper, lower gear of telling stories,” DeWitt said. “Like, meeting the girl of your dreams or the big kiss [would be the big moment], but instead it’s more about these smaller things. It’s about taking things that are literally happening and abstracting them through a prism, kind of slanting them so that it’s an impression of something.”

To contrast the cryptic air surrounding the lyrics, he allows the music to take care of the literal interpretation.

“There will be times when I cut out words and make the lyrics even more enigmatic or less literal because I’m trying to say the more literal thing with music or with sounds,” DeWitt said. “For me, I just feel like I can tell a more interesting story if I cut out 80 percent of the words, and just give hints and let people fill in the gaps.”

Additionally, he believes that how a vocalist performs can sometimes have a greater impact than the lyrics themselves.

“For me, I think that the intangible thing that can happen in the performance in a vocal can sometimes have more resonance than the words that you’re saying,” DeWitt said.

While the band is based in Nashville, DeWitt also recounts many positive experiences the band has had in Kansas City. For example, they have recently performed at a local concert with artists such as St. Lucia, Phantogram and Broken Bells.

“[In Kansas City], we get to be surrounded by all the amazing kinds of people at the radio station and be surrounded by all these other bands who are really incredible. We play a lot of shows where it’s just us and it’s the same club that kind of looks like the last club, and you’re in this city for a three-hour period,” DeWitt said. “I feel like the shows we play [in Kansas City] are really valuable because you get to be inspired by other bands and you get to meet the people at the radio station who are sticking their neck out and trying to help you reach people. It’s nice and we always look forward to these kinds of shows because we get to recharge our jets.”

In addition, the singer expresses his gratitude for local radio station, 96.5 the Buzz, because the radio station has shown support for them for a long time. He specifically noted one of the DJs, Jeriney.

“We met with Jeriney on our very first trip ever to Kansas City. We came in, she interviewed us and we played a couple of songs for her. That was the very first in-studio, radio performance we have ever done as a band, so it kind of holds a special place in our heart,” DeWitt said.

Their debut LP, Youth, is available on iTunes, Spotify and more. For more information on Wild Cub, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud.IMG_20141009_182550_446

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wildcubmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildcub

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wildcubmusic

 *interview was conducted prior to their show on October 9th in Kansas City