Making pop music is not easy; it’s an artful process that relies on the perfect union of right brain and left brain to make a great song. But often times, pop music is written pop as just that: another dumb pop song. But Canadian-born Renny Wilson has a different approach to pop. This young crooner hails from the same town as Mac DeMarco and Sean Nicholas Savage and plays with a similar sexual innocence and vigor. He just dropped his debut album, Sugarglider (Mint Records), so I decided to talk to Renny about lyrics, women, love, and Taylor Swift.
This is your debut record as a solo artist. How do you feel?
It’s a long time coming. I used to have a garage band called the Subatomics and this band called the Horses, which was a collaborative project that developed into just being a solo thing. So, you could say that what I am doing now is remnant of the Horses.
What is Sugarglider about?
Well, it’s corny, but the record is about struggling to make a record. There are few love related songs in there, but the rest of the songs are about how I couldn’t make a full record of love songs. Because, that was my initial plan: to make a great “love” record.
More specifically, it’s about needless procrastination. It pokes fun at how inhibited an artist gets when they are trying to make something they think is perfect—which is just laziness that’s filtered through emotions—and how precocious one thinks their art is.
That’s the mantra of our generation.
Exactly. I don’t know if [Sugarglider] comes off that way, but when I was writing it, I said to myself, “Man, I’m so upset with myself for not being able to write what I want. I’m so useless. I’m not an artist. I’m a procrastinator. I’ll be dead before I know it... cry, cry, cry.”
Relax, Drama Queen.
My next thought was how ridiculous I sounded. Then, that I should write songs about what a slog I am, but lightheartedly. I was writing from a paradoxical perspective. It came out easily.
There has been a resurgence of the pop-crooner solo man from your hometown of Edmonton, Alberta—you, Sean Savage, and Mac DeMarco. Why does Edmonton breed romantic men?
I’m not sure, actually. I can say that both Mac and Sean have had an influence on me. Maybe it’s because pop isn’t a cool thing to have a scene for—at least, not in Edmonton. I can’t imagine it being “cool” in the same way a punk scene is cool, and so if you want to do pop music, you don’t have to follow the waves of a scene. Edmonton is like a really big small town. Just artistic solitude, really. If you are doing pop, this is a good place, maybe?
How do you write lyrics? Are they important to you?
I’m not a lyric-centric person most of the time. I feel like the flow and cadence is the most important part, so as long as it sounds musical, really...
That’s funny, because I have had lots of my friends who are pop writers say that.
We’re all the same. I’m not surprised, really.
Do you have favorite records for your emotions? Like depression, extreme happiness, or being horny?
I always loved Betty Harris’ Soul Perfection Plus. Almost all her songs are about failed love, but I would hardly call it depressing. I don’t know what music makes me horny. All that sexual 80s reggae, but it’s more just hilarious. Sometimes, when I hear sentimental radio hits, like a slow ballad, I get sexual urges.
Speaking of sexual urges, are you gay or straight?
[Laughs] I’m straight.
Did you start writing pop songs to get the ladies or did you have purer motives?
Totally pure motives. I’m, for the most part, afraid of women on a romantic level.
I love women and to socialize with them and it’s not to say that I haven’t had girlfriends over the years, but sometimes when a girl is flirting with me at a show, I get uncomfortable and attempt retreat. I’m a total exhibitionist [on stage], but I’m hardly promiscuous. The idea of a nude beach is cool to me, but an orgy is, like, “What the fuck”?
[Laughs] What do you think of Taylor Swift? She’s been a hot topic on Noisey lately.
She looks exactly like a girl I used to be in love with, but I can’t name one of her songs.
When you see T. Swift does it bring up weird feelings?
Not at all. I don’t really think about Taylor Swift. I actually have another album in the pocket, not recorded. It’s called Goddess Fear and it’s partially about the Taylor Swift girl.
Goddess Fear is a great title. What was the break-up from the Swift look-a-like like?
Well, it’s a perfect reflection of what I said earlier about women. I really liked the idea of this girl, but as soon as I realized I liked her, it was a no-go. I often referred to her as “the Goddess” to my friends who didn't know her. She’s a friend of mine. There have never been hard feelings. Her name is Jenelle. You can publish that if you want. She is just one of the many goddesses in the godessphere. One of many, Goddess Fear.
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