Some singers’ voices are so inherently laced with soul, they can dip in and out of any genre while somehow managing to bring it back to blues. Beyoncé can sing about her baby or being crazy in love and emotionally, we’re right there with her (despite being baby-less and bae-less); Chance the Rapper surprises us with upbeat raps infused with fits of beautiful, jazzy screams; Hozier pairs his blues-inspired vocals with poetic lyrics and some acoustic goodness. Newest to the game of genre-bending is Michigan-native Daniel Wilson. With his stunning androgynous rasp, he gives even the most dancable of beats some hard feelings—the good kind, of course.
Today we’re premiering his new EP, Boy Who Cried Thunder, one we’ve been anticipating like crazy since the release of his single “If You Went Away.” With more emotion packed into five songs than you thought was possible, Wilson’s EP is all about finding the beauty in heartbreak and extracting some empowerment from it all. Stream his new EP and our Q+A with the soulful singer below!
You’re being compared to everyone from Tracy Chapman to Sufjan Stevens (personally I’m hearing Luther Vandross/James Blake vibes)—who are some of your more unexpected musical influences?
Hmm...maybe Nina Simone, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Janis Joplin.
You sing so much about heartbreak, but in an uplifting manner. How do you view heartbreak in such a positive way?
Once you’ve been through several heartbreaks, you really have no choice but to learn from each experience and sort of enjoy it a little. It feels good to know that things can make you feel. Even the saddest movies are worth watching again—to me at least.
When and how did you decide to start seriously pursuing music?
I started using a demo music software and once the free trial was over, I had to keep going. I barely had any money, so after months of trying to find a job, I finally found one; kind of a magical situation. I upgraded on music software and equipment, spent more time learning how to record myself and giving my songs a bit more structure and I started working on them longer. When I started to like what I was hearing, I knew I had to keep going. When other people started to like what I was making, it sort of made the whole thing real for me.
You hit a pretty heavy emotional range in Boy Who Cried Thunder: we cry, we laugh, we dance for sure. How did you approach fitting so much into just five songs?
My experiences with what I thought was love have been all over the map; so many extremes in such a short amount of time. There wasn’t much time in-between writing those songs, so when it came time for me to think of my next music project, it became pretty clear I had a collection of songs all basically based on the same thing—guys who didn’t know how to love and how I contemplated spending the rest of my life with them assuming they had to be “the one.” Many of the songs I’ve written are about love, but those five were the closest to my recent reality of learning how to deal and let go.
I keep seeing pictures of you wearing these really groovy button-ups. How would you describe your personal style?
I usually try to go for sophisticated quirky guy...something flashy but classy...but flashy enough so that it’s noticeable. By no means have I mastered this look yet, but I’ll get there. I will find the promised land. I have also discovered recently that I really love wearing shorts. Pants usually make me feel terrible. Overall though, I love cardigans. It’s impossible to not feel sophisticated in one of those.
What is your next move musically? Can we get excited for an album in the future?
I hope to work on a new album soon! Something louder, MAYBE bolder. Maybe.