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May 14th, 2014 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2014

10 local artists Portland’s music insiders say you must hear.

IMAGE: Lymay Iwasaki

9. WL


FORMED: 2011

SOUNDS LIKE: Waking up with a bad hangover before realizing your roommate has a plate of scrambled eggs and a cold compress for you.

Last summer, WL performed at a Red Bull-sponsored event at which the band was required to give the energy-drink company unlimited rights to one of its songs.

“They record it live at the show and then they can use it for whatever they want, anywhere in the universe, forever,” says guitarist Michael Yun. While some bands gifted a song from one of their albums, WL wrote a song specifically for Red Bull. Drummer Stevie Sparks chimes in: “The chorus line was, ‘Fuck all your bullshit,’ 20 times, over and over.”

“They kept saying, ‘What about this other one?’” adds vocalist Misty Mary. “But we just said, ‘No, we made this one for you.’”

That act of defiance says a lot about the band. While WL has frequently been referred to as “shoegaze,” due to the mellow, ambient sound of its debut album, last year’s Hold, the truth is that, underneath the slow tempos and atmospheric vocals, WL is a band with bite. For certain audiences, sometimes it bites too hard.

“We just played a show in L.A. where we were heavily pushed as a shoegaze band, and the audience was a bunch of kids crossed-armed wearing ‘Ride’ T-shirts and expecting something entirely different from the keyboard trio onstage,” Yun says. “In some senses, we embrace that, sure. If there’s an audience that wants to see a shoegaze band, come out and we’ll play for you.”

With its upcoming album, though, the band is looking to paint a more accurate depiction of itself. (The members confess they’re not even all that familiar with the shoegaze genre; Sparks is a metal fan, in fact.) They finished recording in January and have been carefully tweaking the record. Yun says the band is “getting pretty antsy” about moving on to its next project, but the members are  forcing themselves to reel in their impulse to jump ahead too fast. They believe they’re at the point where WL needs to garner more exposure for the next album, in order to develop its audience—the right audience.

“I am confident that when we release our next album, some of our shoegaze reputation will be shattered in a way that will help us connect more directly with people that will appreciate what we’re doing,” Yun says. “We’re working hard to create good music that we hope will enrich people’s lives.” LAURA HANSON.

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