18 Aug 2022
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WLF - Interview: Who is WLF?

09 May 2022 // An interview by Darryl Baser

In the very first issue of Muzic.net.nz's brand new interview series, Southern Sounds, Dunedin-based musician Darryl Baser talks to Aaron Hogg, the man behind WLF.

Who is WLF?

WLF (Wolf) is the banner I created to put all my weird explorations on home-studio recording under. The last collaborative band I was in was this stoner/sludge outfit called Thunderwülf so it sorta evolved from that as we were winding things down.”

How would you describe your music?

“Oh man, that’s so tough. Recently I watched this YouTube clip of 120 genres of EDM with examples & I got to the end & there were honestly none I felt WLF fitted within. I think partially that is a function of my relative inexperience in using the software but also because until recently I actually listened to very little electronica. This means I begin a piece aiming for something & often it meanders off on a tangent into something completely different to my initial intention. I guess it’s an odd Frankenstein mash of a bunch of the early influences I had from bands like Prodigy or Chemical Brothers & more recently discovered of IDM & industrial influences from artists like Max Cooper, Vegyn, Blanck Mass, Four Tet & Tobacco. It’s bass-heavy, dirty & glitchy & I always try to weave a melodic core into the songs that I guess can be traced back to my years playing in melodically driven, heavy bands. I still feel like I am only just beginning to find an identity within this realm of music.”

How did you come across those genres?

“I guess my earliest experiences electronic & synth driven music came as far back as listening to records of my fathers like Gary Numan & Tubeway Army & Vangelis. I lived through the 80's as well & was super into a bunch of new wave stuff from that era. Later, when I was active in bands during the 90's & 00's, when EDM & rave culture really began to take over I was into all the obligatory gateway acts rockers seemed to be into like The Prodigy, Ministry, & Future Sounds of London, Kasabian etc. More recently during the period of time I was still playing in Thunderwülf I discovered artists like Tobacco & Blanck Mass. Once I started playing round in Logic at home my interest widened into stuff as diverse as Flume, Jon Hopkins, Four Tet & even Billy Eilish, largely based on the techniques used by their producers but also because I am at my core a diehard fan of pop music”.

... And what inspires you to make music in this (these) style?

“I think it is a combination of the practicality of being able to take the kernel of an idea all the way through to a finished piece of music on my own, at home. But also the freedom to be able to create music with such an unimaginably deep palette of sounds & creative tools at your disposal. It’s actually almost a bit paralysing in the beginning, the options are so boundless you often stumble down these crazy rabbit holes that lead to nowhere but that capacity for discovery & invention I find incredibly appealing. I guess though the primary appeal remains the same as when I was making heavy music with mates in bands, to create art that can emotionally move the listener in any number of ways.”

Sometimes it can be hard to gain traction in the music industry, how are you finding it?

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging. It’s a very crowded marketplace & to do it properly I feel like you really need to be focused on it 100% which is obviously hard with a full time job & a mortgage etc. The social media aspect is difficult. I’m a particularly introverted person & I really struggle to not feel like a total twat making posts to get people to pay attention so often I spend all this time creating posts & then tossing them out because they feel fake & stupid. I’ve dealt with it mostly by just lowering my expectations to the point that if I can make some fun, interesting music & get 100 people listening to it I’ll be happy. I’m lucky enough to have already done years & years of touring, playing massive festivals & shows with local & international bands & there isn’t a ton of appeal in that lifestyle to me anymore. I’m definitely getting better at working out ways to be heard but I feel like I’m still in the early stages of developing a good strategy around this.”

Had any formal music training?

“I did the odd guitar lesson when I was younger & more recently I have started to try & learn some basic theory & a little bit of piano. My experience has been that too much music training can almost ruin original creativity. I often find that the deficiencies artists have in their technical knowledge are the things that drive their uniqueness & when you start smoothing that stuff out is when things begin to sound vanilla. Part of my ethos with WLF is to deliberately break a lot of the rules I encounter in relation to musical genres… Like I’ve gone down this rabbit hole recently watching Kenny Beats beat battles & exploring the whole Beatstars scenes, people like Nick Mira, Rio Levya & CXDY just grinding 24/7 making & selling beats & it’s just weird to me that there’s this formula they employ that is so incredibly rigid that despite them all being incredibly skilled as producers & musicians it all just starts blurring into one. Maybe I’m a contrarian but if someone tells me I should only use one layer of bass or only I should only use a certain beat I tend to want to do the exact opposite.”

What music have you released over how many years?

I was in Pumpkinhead & Slim (both Wildside signed bands) in the 90's & 00's we released the albums Sloth & Drive Thru respectively & my most recent band Thunderwülf released a bunch of self-funded singles & videos. WLF has two EPs up in all the normal places, Bandcamp, Spotify etc: Edgelord which I put out in 2021 & Kook in 2022.

What releases, projects and collaborations are you working, and when are they due?

I have two dark pop songs I collaborated on with local singer/songwriter Juana Kino I am in process of mixing & mastering. These should be out mid-year. I’m currently training in masters motion-graphics & animation & my goal for 2022 is to create 1-2 motion graphics pieces as videos to accompany new music I’m working on for WLF which I will release at the end of the year.

What's next for WLF?

My day job is as an art director, illustrator & designer for Kona Bicycles. The illustration & design skills I have developed working for Kona have been immensely helpful for music releases. I also manage the volunteer trail building initiative at the Christchurch Adventure Park & although not directly applicable to music I find the physical & mental health benefits I get from riding bikes & trail building are the perfect counter to a job & hobby that involve long hours sitting in front of a computer inside.

Simply put: WLF is Aaron Hogg.

 

About WLF

WLF (Wolf) is the solo project of Otautahi Christchurch, NZ musician Aaron Hogg.

With over 25 years as a vocalist, guitarist and bassist for bands such as Pumpkinhead, Slim and Thunderwülf, Aaron has amassed a wealth of experience both live and in the studio. During that time he has toured and played with an array of NZ and international acts including Shihad, HLAH, The Mint Chicks, Primus, Korn, Faith No More, Tool, Fugazi and The Misfits.

Although WLF began as a side project, documenting Aaron's discovery of 'in the box' production and a new found love for electronica, his self-described brand of 'electro-sludge' soon became his major musical focus. It is characterized by intricate, cascading arps, slabs of glitchy synth, underpinned by a heavy foundation of live bass. Irreverent, tongue in cheek flips add an often dark, human element and make for songs that bridge the gap between traditional EDM and more narrative-driven structures. Reminiscent in places of pioneering electronic artists like The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Future Sounds of London, WLF also evokes the sounds of modern forms of EDM like Jon Hopkins, Blanck Mass and Four Tet.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for WLF

Releases

Kook
Year: 2022
Type: EP
Edgelord
Year: 2021
Type: EP

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