CHRISTINA WHEELER ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM SONGS OF S + D, DUE OUT MARCH 25, 2022
Today, Berlin/Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, and multimedia artist, Christina Wheeler, announces her hypnotic and intimate new LP, Songs of S + D, due out March 25, 2022, along with thrilling single, “Asleep at the Wheel,” along with an official music video. After releasing an enchanting and intimate EP, That Was Then, This is Now in November 2021 that served as a prelude for what’s to come, Wheeler now introduces a deeper dive into vulnerability with her signature blend of soul and shoe-gaze (or “soul-gaze”) sound culminating in a raw, electro-acoustic peak into the human experience.
Christina Wheeler is widely known for her iconic performances with David Byrne from his tour throughout the U.S., Europe and South America in 1997 and 1998, which brought her to The Late Night Show with David Letterman, where she made her television debut with Byrne. In addition to her appearance with Byrne on PBS’ Sessions at West 54th, Wheeler has recorded and played with countless musicians like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Chaka Khan, Vernon Reid, and more.
As a solo artist, Wheeler manages to brilliantly merge the worlds of electronic and acoustic with analog and digital electronic processing. Picking up where That Was Then, This Is Now left off, Wheeler continues to peel back layers of her conscience on Songs of S + D. Through twelve tracks, Wheeler illustrates the multifaceted human experience with profound exploration of love, heartbreak, growth, grief, and the fragility of life and its cycle.
“Asleep at the Wheel” opens the record capturing Wheeler’s signature soul-gazer sound. Over sped-up sounds woven into New Orleans backbeats, a shifting blues progression cradles lyrics that swiftly puncture the surface. Wheeler’s soulful vocals kick in with, “So, I try to stand here awake / Solitary, flawed, and still / But the lure still tempts me / To close my eyes, and / Dream my dreams / Asleep at the Wheel…”
Throughout much of her work, Wheeler explores the porous, delicate lines between universal dichotomies such as good and evil, life and loss, and elation and devastation. Speaking about the single, Wheeler says the track, “reveals the lures of living a full-throttle life to the point of destruction and the challenge of choosing to step away for grounded clarity, only to fight the temptation to return to thrilling yet ultimately dangerous downward spirals.”
The LP distinctively asks what it might sound like to fuse the sounds that surrounded Wheeler in her childhood, from soul, R&B, funk, disco and shoe-gaze. The album’s recording process took place between Red Bull Studios in both Berlin and New York City, as well as Berlin’s Vox-Ton Studio. Wheeler expanded the record’s scope and quality with several collaborators including Melvin Gibbs, (electric bass) Marque Gilmore (drums, programmer) and Marika Hughes (cellist). Additionally, Joe McGinty and Kelvin Sholar added synths and synth bass lines, while Christian Prommer, Antonio Pulli, Simon Goff, Chris Tabron, and Evan Sutton engineered the recording. Veteran engineer Scotty Hard mixed the album, and Michael Fossenkemper mastered the digital version.
Describing the meaning behind her LP, Wheeler says, “It’s a deeply personal album long time in the making. Inspired by my experience of having lived through 9/11 in New York City and the subsequent attempt to negotiate the aftermath of that time once I moved to Berlin, I began to write a series of songs addressing the larger human experience of life, loss, joy, ecstasy, sadness, and the connecting, universal condition, framed through the context of vivid, intimate vignettes.
With a unique vocal, musical and technological ability, Wheeler ultimately aims to connect listeners through finding common ground in the collective lived human experience. Wheeler explains, “While technology continues to evolve, the human voice remains constant in the singing of songs. With this project, I hope to share modern music with the world that speaks to our universal experiences and connect us through the simple, evocative themes in the narrative and emotional content of my songs.”
Wheeler’s expansive career includes work as a soloist, band mate, featured artist, and even an immersive experience performer. As a soloist, Wheeler has composed and performed her own pieces for Free Rotation Festival and New York’s Experimental Intermedia, Issue Project Room, and Bang on a Can. Fact Magazine reported on her performance of one of her solo pieces called “Surrender to the Totality of Blackness,” which she presented at this year’s CTM Festival. Her journey also led her to collaborate on several band projects, including Wiremouth, Floating People, and BlowOut, in addition to her time with David Byrne.
Wrestling with existential questions and universal struggles matched with expertly crafted and unparalleled instrumentation, Christina Wheeler continues to blaze a path all her own. Songs of S + D is out March 25, 2022 and now available topre-save. The first single, “Asleep at the Wheel” is out everywhere now. Stay tuned for more from Christina Wheeler.
ABOUT CHRISTINA WHEELER:
Processing life-altering events isn’t always instant: Sometimes it can take years. For Christina Wheeler, the experience of having lived in New York City through 9/11 and its aftermath stayed with her. But it was only when she relocated to Berlin that she truly began to unpack it.
As a composer, vocalist, multi-instrumental electronic musician, and multimedia artist, Wheeler is always experimenting with music and form — and her latest work is no different. With her new album Songs of S+D, Wheeler has crafted a deeply vulnerable project that not only peels back the layers of her own personal experience but examines the universal emotions of life, loss, joy, ecstasy, and sadness through poignant storytelling.
Within Songs of S+D is a mélange of genres — an homage to her wide-ranging musical upbringing of soul R&B, funk, and disco. But with her work, the musician, songwriter, and composer adds her own flourishes, pairing shoegazer tones with funkier beats. The rich blend of the two became Wheeler’s own perfectly defined genre: “soulgazer” music.
Recording between New York and Berlin, Wheeler compiled what would become Songs of S+D a few years ago. But the pandemic stalled its release. During the COVID lockdown, Wheeler decided to start her own label and release the recordings herself.
Wheeler’s background blending the acoustic and electronic worlds together became the foundation for her latest effort. The result is a twist on electro-acoustic instrumentation, which she interpolates with analog and digital electronic processing to contemporize them. By creating these hybridized sounds, Songs of S+D emerges as a truly singular work, brimming with everything from the metal tines of the African kalimba to the strings of the autoharp.
Still, no matter how much Wheeler alchemizes modern technology on the 12-track album, it’s the humanity of her voice that carries the record home. Opening with New Orleans backbeats, Wheeler encapsulates the “soulgazer” sound, oscillating between living on the edge and choosing a life more grounded on “Asleep at The Wheel:” “So, I try to stand here awake/Solitary, flawed, and still/But the lure still tempts me/To close my eyes.” What follows is deep introspection on the push-and-pull of emotion. The raucous drum-flanked “Into the Sun” tackles the Icarus myth — a moment of incendiary joy at its peak — while the mid-tempo soul number “Shadowlands” meditates on burnout and the heartbreak experienced from not a person, but a city. “So Close to You” and “Some Boys” transition to actual love, but tackle the allure and danger of trying to love a toxic person. The QChord-flanked “Alone” explores the loneliness that can come after the ecstasy of carnal communion. Alternatively, “This Time” focuses on living in the moment when it comes to romance. “This is all the time we’ve got/Trickling away like grains of sand,” Wheeler sings with a wistful lilt.
Inspired by Ringo Starr’s “Octopus’ Garden” and Shakespeare’s Prospero sonnet fromThe Tempest, the psych-rock “In the Sea” tells a tale that reimagines a father and daughter’s fraught relationship that is transformed by a magical kingdom deep in the ocean. There’s a sweet sadness to Wheeler’s songs about death: “Where Did You Go?” turns the confusion and grief over where to find those who have passed into wonder. Rounding out the record is the album’s closer “My Lullaby,” which illustrates the ultimate connection and circularity in life and death: “Close your eyes/Rest your head/In this soft space/Now’s the time/To let yourself go/Let yourself go.”
But before she sharesSongs of S+D, Wheeler plans to release her six-song EPThat Was Then, This Is Now to introduce her latest era, tackling universal issues and existential questions that plague so many of us: separation and the human connection (“One” and “Open”); being present (“Never Know” and “Right Here, Right Now”); taking action to make a tangible change (“What Will You Do?” and “Calling You”). All recorded in one take with Wheeler playing all the instruments, designing the processing, and singing simultaneously, That Was Then, This Is Now features direct lyrics with no auto-tune and embraces the quirks of self-expression. Though it’s a prelude to Songs of S+D, the EP serves as an epilogue to what Wheeler envisions as a three-part body of work where the past refers to the future, the future refers to the past, and present contains all time.
Blending everything from processed vocals to the autoharp and the electric mbira to the theremin, Wheeler is an expert polymath who has had an expansive career in the music industry. She has performed onstage with David Byrne on tour throughout the U.S., Europe and South America. Additionally she has recorded and played with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Chaka Khan, Vernon Reid, John Cale, Jamie Lidell and more. Her work with David Byrne has led her to share the stage with him during several international tours, The Late Show with David Letterman, and PBS’s Sessions at West 54th Street. Additionally, Wheeler has also performed at New York’s Lincoln Center and Berlin’s Philharmonic.
The range of experiences on her rich, varied creative path have led her to where she is now — and propel her to where she’s headed next. Look out for the follow up to these recordings in her next song album, How Do We Get to Where We Want to Be?