Canadian duo Wotts embark down a new path with charming indie pop track ‘Wheel’

''We're having a lot of fun with exploring new sounds and really trying to build an atmosphere with our music.’’
30 March 2023

Wheel is the latest release from Canadian indie pop act Wotts, a two-man band that has been making and releasing music together since 2021. Wheel marks the duo’s first release of 2023, and also a noticeable departure from their usual back-to-the-80s style. Still retaining a retro charm, the song seems to have its roots planted more in the present, drawing inspiration from more contemporary indie artists like Dayglow and Djo.

On switching up their sound with this latest single, bassist and guitarist Ricky 100 explained, ‘’Indie Pop is our genre, but I think we’re having a lot of fun with exploring new sounds and really trying to build an atmosphere with our music.’’

Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jayem elaborates, ‘’Dayglow and Djo have been huge influences of ours. I love that some of their music takes on this modern Beatles-like sound. Old mixed with new, at times maximalist, but if you broke it down to just piano and vocal, it would sound just as good. That’s what we were aiming for here.’’

Straying from your comfort zone is not easy, and managing to retain your core signature sound while still keeping it fresh is what longevity as an artist is all about – and Wotts seem to have this part down pat.

The track itself has an uplifting, sunshiney feel to it that makes it the perfect song to start the summer with. The twinkling, charming melody is brightened with string and horn instruments and then contrasted with the deep, gravelly vocals provided by Jayem, who produced the track himself, as well as providing the vocals. 

“We’ve been completely DIY since we started,’’ Jayem says. ‘’But there was something telling us that we needed to use real horns and strings this time around. We still wrote all the parts, but we brought in other musicians to help give it an orchestral vibe. Ultimately we wanted everything sounding super natural.”

The choice to bring in those brassy horns and airy strings paid off big time – these components breathe life into what would already be a decent song, and help to create that tangibly warm atmosphere that leaves the song playing in your head long after it’s ended.

When asked about the meaning of the song, the guys say it’s about ‘’surrendering to what you can’t control and acknowledging and accepting mortality.’’ Having such a serious message delivered in such a light and breezy manner is the stuff that good, quintessential pop is made from, and a testament to the duo’s obvious talent.

There is even more than meets the eye with Wheel – instead of being just a stand-alone single, the track is part one of a trilogy of songs that will build an overarching narrative. ‘’We’ve been experimenting a lot, only dropping singles, and it’s been great, but we liked the idea of creating a small story. I think this approach is a good first step for us to get the confidence we need to make a record,’’ says Ricky 100.

With their wheels now turning down a new avenue of musical style and aesthetic, and a trilogy that is yet to be completed, there is a lot to look forward to from Wotts, and plenty of past material to catch up on if this is your first time hearing about them. Check out Wheel, along with all of their other stuff, on your favourite streaming platform, and keep an eye on their socials for the news on the next instalment of the trilogy.