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The Wayo's Charlotte Day Wilson Talks Hustling, "Smooth­-Ass R&B"

“I’m trying to do as much music stuff as possible with as many people as possible, and stimulate all the interests I have.”


Photo courtesy of The Super Maniak / RBMA

Toronto­-via-­Halifax quartet The Wayo bill themselves as “smooth­-ass R&B,” and music writing be damned—there’s simply no other way to put it.

While the pristine beats, suave guitars and suitably funky bass lines undeniably contribute to the group’s dulcet foundation, all of it is working to support the velvety, timeless voice of frontwoman Charlotte Day Wilson.

Hardly the stuff of rock legend, the group met through a book club while attending college in Halifax. The first time they played together, they were all in separate projects, competing against one another in a battle of the bands. Thankfully, they opted to work together instead.

Last year’s Wanderings EP is proof that The Wayo are onto something. While Wilson’s voice has the power to lull you into a dream world, she’s hardly a slacker. In addition to fronting The Wayo, she works as an intern at Arts & Crafts. She makes solo music as Day Wilson, and she’s working on another brand new project that’s yet to be titled. “I’m just hustling,” she says. “I’m trying to do as much music stuff as possible with as many people as possible, and stimulate all the interests I have.”

Wilson was recently invited to participate in the Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp in Montreal, an abbreviated version of the organization’s two-­week residency in Paris, happening later this year. Here, a hand­-picked selection of 20 up-­and-­coming Canadian producers and musicians collaborated, studied and effectively lived together for a full weekend. There were lectures from Jacques Greene, DJ Quik and Kevin Saunderson, as well as state­ of ­the ­art studios furnished with state ­of ­the ­art equipment and sound engineers.

On the first day, attendees sat around and shared tracks with one another. There was a wide spread of artists playing various styles, and at various stages in their career. Entered into the program as The Wayo, the alphabet dictated that Wilson was the last to share. “I was actually glad I was last,” she says. “When people first started going up, I was like 'oh my god, if I go up I think I might pass out from the nerves'. But it's so funny, as soon as you get up there, the whole room looks different. The light changes, there's some kind of spotlight.”

After telling the crowd that she’s obsessed with writing love songs, Wilson debuted a song from her third, yet ­to ­be ­titled project. Her voice melted hearts and shortened breaths, and she was a highly sought ­after vocal collaborator for the rest of the weekend.

“Last night I started getting wavy and recorded a really weird song, but I actually really like it,” she says. Still, it’s the new faces she’ll remember best from the weekend. “As lame as it sounds, I feel like I've made some new friends.”

Each of her three projects have new EPs in the works, not to mention anything she may have concocted at Bass Camp. Expect to hear plenty more from Charlotte Day Wilson in 2015.

Noisey: How did you first get into playing music?
Charlotte Day Wilson: I feel like I've always been playing music. I started taking piano lessons at a really early age. My parents put me up to it, and I wasn't allowed to stop until I left my house. I started writing my own music when I was in high school. And then when I got to university and had my heart broken for the first time, I actually put an EP together.

Has piano been your main instrument, then?
I would say that at this point my voice has been my main instrument, but piano's definitely been crucial to my music making process. Having keys involved in some capacity is how I contextualize everything that I do.

How did The Wayo come together?
We all met in Halifax. Because we all did a great books program in university. It's really lame [laughs]. We all played in separate bands in first year. Actually, all of us played in separate bands in a Battle of the Bands in the first year. Then, in the second year, we started a band. One of our friends was like, 'you all have similar tastes in music'. He kind of put us all together.

What kind of bands were you playing with in Halifax? Were you playing at The Khyber?
I feel like The Khyber was more rock­-oriented, although apparently it has a really cool hip-­hop history that I didn't really know about. We've played everywhere in Halifax. We played so many shows when we were in our prime there in Halifax. Just every week, playing two or three shows. Our mentality was not to say no to anything. Still to this day when we go back, we try to play with all different kinds of groups. We're playing with an all-girl punk band next week: Vulva Culture. They're awesome.

It seems like Halifax is that sort of small city mentality. Now that you’ve relocated to Toronto, what’s different?
In Toronto I feel like we're more selective in terms of the shows that we take, but we're also aware that we need to hustle and get our name out as much as possible. We're kind of trying to form a bit of a community or identity with other bands that are doing similar things in Toronto.

You’ve been recording vocals with a few different electronic artists this weekend. Is recording dance music totally foreign to you?
Not really... I do try to do everything. And I've definitely had people approach me to do this kind of music. It just doesn't always work out. Dance music is such a high tempo, and I’m used to writing to downtempo stuff. So what always ends up happening is I somehow turn a really fast song into a halftime groove with my vocals—a fast rhythm, and I'm doing soaring vocals and trying to bring it back down to what I'm used to, so it's fun.