wav on “Hollywood” & Staying True to Self (Interview)

Multi-talented musician wav grabs attention everywhere he goes. Today, he comes through to tell his story of overcoming adversity and finding self. As an artist and producer with a foundation in Hip-Hop and R&B, he grew to derive influence from a variety of musical styles, including Folk, Alternative and Electronic. Listeners will note a rawness to wav’s haunting and unique vocals, as a born outsider and natural eccentric, wav’s music is a uniquely cathartic experience.

wav recently relocated to Hollywood, CA along with his audio engineer, and he continues to take his career into his own hands independently – and has since released 2 EPs, and several self-produced singles. wav has collaborated with the rising artist Lil Xelly, and ATL-based producer After Dark, and both are featured on his popular track ‘trauma ties‘.

Born in the Bay Area to a single mother, and raised in his grandparents’ home, wav experienced a tough upbringing with his mother. Whilst she nurtured his capacity for learning, singing and dancing, they had a rocky relationship – and financial troubles also added to their struggles. His grandfather, a Canton-region immigrant and his grandmother, a native of Oakland Chinatown, stressed a traditional mentality of diligence, discipline and honor.

His self produced project, ‘antihero’, especially reflects the influences of his choice to use meditative instrumentation, Bruce-Lee inspired artistic fluidity and attention to detail. Perhaps most importantly, he believes this era of his life instilled the resilience he would require to not only go on living, but to become something great for a world of which he was prematurely aware would prove to be less than fair, cruel and unforgiving.

Putting every single dollar and every ounce of effort into his music career – wav sacrifices sleep, significant others, physical and mental health and well being in order to ensure that he reaches his goals. Along with his team, wav sleeps on the floor of an industry standard music studio that he built himself – and he’s incredibly serious about changing the world we live in, along with no naivety, he knows that you need power and influence to make people listen.

Rather than display his pain with a teardrop, wav lets the music tell all. Without a filter, wav’s music explores mental battles, his dealings with women, and the ones he’s loved and lost. His latest journey ‘Hollywood’ doesn’t stray from the path, creating emotion through sound rather than through technical wordplay and song structure.

Taking inspiration from a conversation with his former manager, wav felt that the they had completely destroyed the integrity of himself as an artist – and left him extremely paranoid for his safety. He then channelled all of his emotions into this gripping freestyle, which serves as a message to fellow upcoming artists that says “if you have a desire to craft your own sound, stay true to your morals and are self-aware, be careful because this is what it can feel like”.

As an artist who grew up on Hip Hop and R&B, who are some of you favorite artists and albums?

This is a hard question. I do not even listen to some of my favorite artists and albums any more. Of the sh*t that one can categorize as Hip Hop or R&B, a few artists/albums that hold a special place in my heart are: Jay-Z (Reasonable Doubt), Eminem (MMLP2), Frank Ocean (Nostalgia Ultra, Channel Orange) Kendrick Lamar (Section .80, GKMC), Future (DS2, HNDRXX).

Man, just way too many to name and to be honest, I consider myself still growing up now, like everyday. A lot of stuff that I found down the road that like, don’t even have lyrics and are not R&B or Hip Hop at all like, Explosions In The Sky (How Strange, Innocence) opened my eyes to the limitations that words, lyrics and wordplay can impose on the world of the listener.

Artists such as Dallas Green of City and Colour offered a gentleness/vulnerability and a sensitivity that was hard to find in my favorite rap songs in general. I felt like a lot of the emotions I thought men weren’t supposed to have let alone express were validated when I found these types of artists. 

Which one had the most impact on your life?

Y’all relentless man… I mean… all of these albums and artists were equally important at the relative times that each came into my life. I was a f*cked up, hurt and lonely lil’ kid. Like a destined drug addict type. Always looking for a way to escape my reality as long as far back as I can remember. Like my first memory is probably when I was 5 or some sh*t. First day we moved out of my grandparents crib.

First time my mom had her own room separate from me and my lil’ bruh. I remember thinking, “damn I know men have this role in women lives- and my mom don’t got no one like that.” I knew it was a role I couldn’t fill too. I remember thinking that bad things happen to good people and certainly there was no great reason or rhyme for all this sh*t that happens in this world.

My bad I be rambling. Gun to head, I would say Kendrick had the biggest impact in that he made me realize music can be more than a selfish means of escape or a cool talent- even if you’re just one person- if you work hard and your sound is really hard like that, you can affect change. You can move peoples hearts. 

wav on “Hollywood” & Staying True to Self (Interview)

You also draw influence from a wide variety of styles, like Folk, Alternative and Electronic. How did you upbringing contribute to your eclectic taste?

My mom just like loved f*ckin Tina Turner and had me dancing and singing that shit when I could barely walk. My mother is a very musical woman with a diverse taste and a good a** voice. The neighbor kids in my complex put me on the Rap and the Hip Hop.

When I got old enough we used my auntie address to get admitted and my mom put us in the better school district which is where I got exposed to new types of music I had never really heard before like Rock, Alternative Rock and Metal. I was hella late to computers because we couldn’t really afford one ’til I was like a teenager. One of my friends showed me music pirating and it was over. I would download like any artist whose name I didn’t know. 

Aside from writing and performing, you also produced several of your singles. Why did you decide to go this route instead of getting beats from another producer?

The production sh*t is pretty recent actually. To be honest the reason I started was because MFs not original. I do not want no “type beat”. I don’t wanna just redo sh*t that’s already been done. And the other part of it is my attention span. My engineer hates me because especially with other people’s production, if I do not get a clean freestyle the first or second take, it probably isn’t happening. I lose all interest and all the purity of the first emotional response if I keep running people’s instrumentals back. I feel with my own sounds, drums and production I can channel my vision and my energy with a lot more authenticity. 

What would you say is the hardest part of being an independent artist?

It’s so much shit that’s hard about being an independent artist. I can’t even say one thing is the hardest. Self-motivation. Self-regulation. Team mentality and having solid people behind your vision who respect you as a human and as an artist. It’s like snake and rat behavior is correlated with careers in the art industry. Moving smart, not doing illegal sh*t is hard for a lot of people who fund their own sh*t. And not folding to the culture of today’s playlist/make-what-people-already-want-to-hear industry.

Also like I’m not just an independent artist, I’m an independent person. I never had no real support from anyone. I am a f*cking mixed race Asian/Native/European/African freak mutt with a shattered identity that I’ve pieced together for the most part alone. Lol, sounds dramatic but for real! There’s no lane for me. In life or in music. 

There just ain’t no shortcuts in this sh*t. Especially if you’re really self made.

So, you’re originally from the Bay Area, but have recently relocated to Hollywood. What sparked the move?

The move was sparked by a falling out with my old management. Also, I do not like hate The Bay or nothing, but in my personal experience it ain’t the accepting, loving, forward thinking place that it is known for. As long as I remember I been got shit on for either my race, my background, my financial status, my interests or my masculinity/femininity. Everything. 

What opportunities have presented themselves to you since you’ve been out here?

I started off LA around South Central/Downtown outskirts in a small one room apartment with my audio engineer. I would just go out with my engineer or go to work and me and him kinda stand out. I am like 6’1 and he is like 6’6 and were both a hella weird mix so on weekends drunk ppl would just like say what up and ask what I do. I worked at a gym on skid row where I would meet other artists grinding as well. Designers. Whatever.

When I stacked up enough we relocated to Hollywood and I built out a quality studio. As you know, artists are always traveling here. Lil Xelly came here to do a show and my engineer just hit him like, “wanna come thru to the studio and work with wav?” and we made “trauma ties” right there. Same with BIGBABYGUCCI when he came out a couple times to work and promo in Hollywood. We tapped in and just like recorded some shit. He’s a nice dude. I respect his art. Here, I’ve been able to be a full-time artist. Here people aren’t so quick to kick people into a certain genre and even if they do, I do not get nearly as much negative bias here as in the Bay and I love that. 

wav hollywood artwork

Speaking of “Hollywood”, your new single gets very transparent, as you draw on a conversation with your former manager. Why did it leave you feeling like you destroyed the integrity of yourself as an artist?

I made a lot of sh*tty music that people wanted me to make and did a lot of sh*tty things to be accepted with my old group. I wasn’t respected as an artist or a human being and I could tell I was a cash grab for them at best because they saw me as someone :easily marketable” if i agreed to do shit within their mould. I do not really like speaking about people when they ain’t around though. One day I will address it more out in the open but right now is not the time. I do not like even remembering those times. The game gets dirty is all I will say. And no one gives a f*ck about you. 

From money to sleep and your mental health, you’ve sacrificed a lot for your vision. What keeps you going in the face of challenges?

I hate a lot of sh*t about myself. But one thing I love is that I just f*ckin’ grind. I am pragmatic, calculated and driven. If I give a f*ck about something nothing can break me until I know I have done everything in my power to achieve it. I’ve also always believed this world is sh*tty and people by nature unfortunately only listen to those with influence. Those with power.

I want the power to alter peoples beliefs, and I know I have good, helpful beliefs. With music you can make your voice audible. It’s weird, I hate people. But I pity people and I want to save people. When I feel especially weak, like this one week I spent homeless walking around downtown LA with my mic in the flight box and my clothes, I remember I would think about how unbelievably hard the lives of my grandparents and mother who raised me were and I know I can do anything. Nothing is too hard.

I want the power to alter peoples beliefs, and I know I have good, helpful beliefs.

How has music been a refuge for you?

During my childhood  music was the only quiet, safe place in my household. Music reassured me that I could be good no matter what bad/evils were done to me because even in pain I could hear so much goodness, so much beauty and so much hope in the artists who saved me from my upbringing.

wav in orange camo shirt

How do you plan on making this year better than your last?

I’ve been in 2021. I’ve been doing everything I can and within our power and no longer walking out my moral comfort zone to get to my goals. There just ain’t no shortcuts in this sh*t. Especially if you’re really self made.

Anything else your supporters should know?

Dropping tons of music. I got like 200 songs ready to mix and master. Lots of visuals, an album. Everything made in house. My production. My studio. The collabs with BIGBABYGUCCI is insane… yeah. Just waiting for the right time on those. And just know I am grateful. Your messages, your love, all of it keeps me strong when this is all too heavy and too much. 

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