words by reese gorman
Wilmah; a band with a sound as deep as their lyrics. I sat down with them to talk about their upcoming EP release, how they started out, and the story and method behind this unique sound. Comprised of two passionate college students Matt Connolly and Will O’Connor, Wilmah is not your typical Indie-Pop band.
In a day and age filled with shallow lyrics and almost irritable beats, Wilmah looks to change the description of what it means to be an “Indie-Pop” band. Having released three singles as of now they are on the right track. The releases have a solid mix of dancing in your room all the way to wanting to cry in your room. Nothing to Say is a very introspective personal song, so much so that when I asked Matt if the song was about someone they both laughed and quickly said, “No comment.” Then you got Pretty Boys and Forever with equally as deep meanings but instead have the beat that makes you want to get up and dance.
In my brief time talking with Matt and Will one thing was very obvious to me, they love music. Music is an outlet for them, they turn their experiences, struggles and thoughts into lyrics in such a way where the listener can’t help but feel some sort of connection with them. That’s something so unique about them and their style is they don’t hold back. Their lyrics are filled with such raw emotion.
My favorite lyric of theirs is so simple yet so deep, in Nothing to Say Matt says, “If I didn’t love you, I would call you a bitch.” The depth in this verse leaves me in awe every time I hear it. The vulnerability it takes to admit you still love someone, so much so that you can’t say a single bad thing about them regardless of how much they hurt you, is astounding.
This is something they set out to do, this isn’t by accident. “I think a big part of it is I mean we’re still making pop music, but we want it to be sincere and genuine and have meaning,” Matt states. “I mean the songs have a deep meaning to me, and people tell us that our songs are helping them. So, I think if it’s something I’m feeling and someone else is feeling as well, that’s a big part of it.”
This is kind of a basic question, but how did y’all become a band and how’d you meet, what’s the story behind that?
Will: We went to middle school together, I was in 8th grade he was in 6th. I was already playing guitar, and then he started playing guitar too. So, we met each other there.
Matt: We played in like a middle school rock band put together by the band teacher. And that turned into a band in high school, and then Will and I started writing songs together.
Where did the name Wilmah come from?
Matt: Originally, we were called Call Waiting, and then one day my mom said we should call ourselves Wilma, like a combination of our names. But there was already a band called Wilma without the h, so we added an h at the end.
Who does most of the writing? Is it a collaboration between you guys?
Will: It honestly just depends, like if we come up with something good we turn it into a song. So whoever got whatever, is cool.
Matt: It’s mostly like we start out with a synth part or like a progression or a drum loop then we keep building the production. I’ll work on the words and put some melodies over it. It’s a very gradual thing.
I know you(Matt) were explaining to me how you use so many different objects in your music to make the sound, where did that idea come from?
Matt: It’s just different people that we like. Like Maggie Rogers uses a lot of cool sounds. It’s just like a lot of weird samples, for example I was on a plane the other day and I heard the airplane beep and I put it in one of our new songs. It’s just things that I hear and think ‘that would be cool in a song.’
Who are some of your inspirations in music?
Matt: We really look up to John Mayer, Michael Jackson, Maggie Rogers, Prince, BORNS, The 1975. Matty Healy is like Jesus Christ to me.
What was the first concert y’all both went to?
Matt: mine was John Mayer
Will: Mine was too
When you guys are writing, is there a certain setting you like to put yourselves in to get more inspiration?
Matt: It’s all done on the fly. My notes app on my iPhone is just a mess of random ideas an lyrics.
What’s the song you’re are most proud of that either you have released or haven’t?
Matt: We’re really proud of “Nothing to Say.” Also, as a pop song I really love “Forever.” Cause “Nothing to Say” is a pop song but it’s different. And the new stuff we’ve been working on is really good too. We’ve just been getting better and better at production, so I’m really excited for the future stuff too.
When did you record your first song?
Will: I think it was three summers ago, it was a terrible song. I had a job over the summer like three years ago, and this co-worker was like “you should write a song about a lawn chair” she was just making a joke. So, I took her up on it and made a song about it. Then we realized that we could make better music than this. So, during the winter of my freshman year of college I sent him(Matt) some work and it turned into this really cool song.
Matt: As Call Waiting we released two songs then we removed them, we’re eventually planning on re-releasing the one song. But that was the first legit song we did together.
Are y’all pumped for this EP release coming out?
Matt: We’re excited.
Will: We got really cool promotion stuff for it too which is even more exciting, I get really excited by that stuff.
Matt: The cover art is really dope.
Will: It’s just really fun to share our vision with everyone else.
Do you both do the cover art together?
Will: To be honest I’m not really involved, I give a little bit of input to Matt’s girlfriend and her brother. They’re really good at what they do.
Matt: They did the “Pretty Boys” cover. I did the “Forever” cover. The aesthetic of our band is just as important as our sound. We want to switch it up, obviously with the singles there’s this consistency, but with the EP it going to be something totally different.
Talking about “Pretty Boys” what’s the song about? Is it from a girl’s perspective?
Matt: I remember I was getting a piece of pizza and I was thinking about the song, and I had this lyric in my head ‘I just want all the pretty girls to like me’ and I thought no one wants to hear an asshole singing about wanting girls to like him. So, I switched it and it completely changed the meaning. The songs about insecurities and wanting to feel good enough for other people and yourself. And so, I think everyone wants the pretty boys to like them. No matter if you’re a girl or a guy so it took a deeper meaning when I changed it so I’m happy that I did.
Who would be your dream person/band to tour with?
Matt: LANY probably, they’re so much fun to see. There’s just something different about them.
When I listen to your music there’s a lot of similarities between you guys and LANY.
Matt: We really like them obviously. They try to do the same thing we’re doing. And we wanna be in that Alt-Pop scene but I think we have stuff to offer that other synth-pop bands aren’t necessarily doing.
What is the biggest thing you bring to the table that other bands don’t?
Matt: I think a big part of it is I mean we’re still making pop music but we want it to be sincere and genuine and have meaning. I mean the songs have a deep meaning to me, people tell us that our songs are helping them. So I think if it’s something I’m feeling and someone else is feeling as well that’s a big part of it. I think sonically we do a lot of things different than other bands, it still fits in the genre but there’s such diversity in our songs it has a little bit of everything, it has this nice mix.
Will: It’s so exciting cause y’all have no idea what we’re gonna be doing next, we don’t even know what we’re doing next.
Matt: There is a consistency with our sound but there isn’t at the same time, and bands like The 1975 do that very well. They sound like The 1975 but they do a lot of things on the same album and the same bodies of work and that’s what we wanna do. If someone were to say “y’all have to start just making songs like this” I don’t think we could do that. Because we have so many different inspirations and influences at the same time it just comes out differently in every song. And that’s what being a human being is like, it’s not a one way street.
How many performances have you done?
Matt: So, he(Will) goes to Loyola of Maryland and we performed at their music festival, Loylapalloza, and we opened for Sean Paul. And that was the first time we played for a bunch of people and they liked it a lot.
How do you go about PR?
Matt: I mean we wanna just keep making connections with our fans and also meeting people that can help us. Cause we’re literally doing this all independently. We’re releasing, doing the art it’s all through us. We recorded the EP in a bedroom of my house. So, I wanna keep that mentality but obviously grow it. I still think we’ll make the debut album in my parents’ house.
So, what are your long-term goals for this year after the EP release?
Matt: We would love for people to keep listening to us and for new people to discover us.
If you could perform at any festival or venue where would it be?
Matt: We want to sell out Terminal 5 within the next four years, by 2022. That’s our goal.