Thurs. Aug. 1
The Royal American
970 Morrison Drive
Jeffrey Wilson has been playing funk music for quite a while now, enough to be called a funk master. Headquartered in his home studio, complete with studio cats, we discussed the art of maintaining a busy schedule, Prince, and his upcoming project, Moontalkr. Our conversation opened a bit more awkwardly than expected after mistakenly calling his project "Moonraker," but Wilson laughed it off and recounted playing Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo 64 back in the day. This guy knows what's up.
Studying guitar at College of Charleston, Wilson honed his skills in improvisation and music theory. While studying, he was surrounded by tons of like-minded funk musicians who were primarily players and gigged around for monetary purposes; Wilson followed suit, "that's what I was doing full-time, for a long time — and that's how I was paying the bills." Though, he desired something a bit more expressive than his contemporaries. Inspired by Bon Iver's 22, A Million, Wilson began to dip his toes into music production. "It completely blew my mind, what he was doing with his vocals, and what he was doing with the production work and mixing. I started working at home and producing without knowing anything about it, so I guess I've come a long way in a relatively short period of time."
Wilson released those tracks under Get With It, the precursor to his new project. "The name was really indicative of that kind of swag, funk attitude," he says. "As I was working on the music more, I started drifting away from that and it became more sensitive and exploratory." Wilson thought the name Get With It might sound too abrasive, almost like he was talking shit to someone. In turn, the work began to shape itself into something else entirely while still embracing Wilson's roots. "Moontalkr came out of this really cosmic, spiritual sensitivity that the music has taken form — and it's more about the lyricism and the idea of transcendence as opposed to raw instrumental prowess."
Being able to navigate the production side of music allowed Wilson to really bring something more to the table. His spirituality could now be revealed in the music in ways that it couldn't before. Moontalkr's upcoming release, Blue Door LP contains the fruits of Wilson's labor. Mostly recorded at Rialto Row, Wolfgang Zimmerman co-produced the record and his unique sensibilities are present. Channeling heavy Prince and D'Angelo vibes, the grooves are deep and production is interstellar. The dual single release of "Blue Door" and "Ode" is set for July 4, and the tracks speak to the multiple personalities of the record. Blue Door is a slow, lo-fi ride that really demands attention to the various effects happening all at once. One can imagine scenes from Cowboy Bebop or Blade Runner when enjoying this one. "Ode," on the other hand, takes a more fundamentalist approach. The guitar and piano are the only instruments present; Wilson gently guides this track vocally, introducing a meditative side to the music. One track to look out for is "Omen." This "should-be single" leans on a more organic instrumentation, crashing drums, reverberating guitar, and piano outro. This track also features one of the more memorable melodies on the record, one you'll catch yourself humming. (Make this one a single, Jeff).
Looking past the singles, the full release has been pulled back a bit due to a new strategic approach by Wilson's new management team, Our Secret Handshake. Wilson finds himself honored to be working with this women-led organization in a male-dominated industry and sees a bright future ahead. "These folks are really going to help me dial in and really help me create and push out how I want the group to be perceived," he says. "I feel like my music is so sensitive and it's got this really effeminate — or gender neutral quality to it — I feel empowered by these women that I'm working with at Our Secret Handshake, because they represent exactly what the culture is trying to move toward."
Wilson maintains a consistent work flow creating his own music and helping other artists create theirs. However, it seems Moontalkr might stay a while, being a new sound on the scene. Wilson is looking forward to their show on Aug. 1 with Young Bull at the Royal American. "I'm still growing as an artist and a songwriter every day, even since the record, I feel like I have a whole different concept for what will be coming from me, going forward."