Interview: Wanderer Shares Electro-Pop Goodness on New EP
Adam Simons might be based in Phoenix but he’s bursting with LA energy. You know what we mean — he’s got that buzzy sort of vibrancy you’ll usually find in the heart of Los Angeles’ bustling music scene. As a touring member of legendary alt-rock band The Maine, Simons is a chameleon, adept at mixing influences and molding modern elements into a cohesive sound entirely his own. That’s why his solo project, Wanderer, seems to adopt the kind of electro-pop tendencies you might be more likely to hear under the bright lights of LA nights or at an 80s skating rink. On his new EP, Skyline, he offers four neon tracks from a one-man boy band — smooth, catchy pop romps by a real heartbreaker.
Skyline opens with “Who’s Gonna Love You,” our first real taste of Simons’ talent at combining whole eras. Here we get the contemplative wail of guitar and jangly rhythm lines you might find in your favorite 70s songs, but it’s all coated in these synth splashes and distant blooms of electric layers that make more sense in today’s sonic landscape. Next comes “Miss You More At Night,” an outright example of an electro-pop earworm you’ll be humming for weeks. Slaps of percussion, synth sparkles in the background, and silky smooth vocals make up the arrangement, each element sharing the space and making room for each other. There’s a great unity to this track — the melody line gets its spotlight, the rhythm section isn’t too crowded, and Simons’ vocals lay nicely on a bed of tender alt-pop instrumentation.
“California Looks Good On You” opens with the buzzing bloom of synth before a sweet strum comes in followed by the quick slap of a drum pad accompaniment. The tempo is pretty upbeat, but you can tell — specifically because of Simons’ aching falsetto — that the track is more of a hearty ballad than a carefree dancealong. The arrangement isn’t as complex as it is across the rest of the EP, but there are moments where the melody swells with emotion and great bursts of dazzling rhythmic beats. Skyline ends with a cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” transformed into a lush soundscape of electro-pop instrumentation brewed low and slow. The integrity of the original — its dynamic 80s treatment full of color and energy — remains in Simons’ rendition, but it’s also got that Wanderer sparkle, full of percussive slaps and warbling melody (plus it’s worth a mention that his vocals are definitely at their best here). As Wanderer, Adam Simons builds colorful arrangements jampacked with electric flavor and major hook appeal.
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
Wanderer: Yes! My name is Adam Simons — I’m a singer-songwriter from Phoenix, AZ — and I go under the name Wanderer for my solo project. I’ve been playing guitar and singing for many years, have played in several bands, and been touring for a while now.
TMM: What is the music scene like where you’re based in Arizona and how has it influenced your work at all?
Wanderer: It’s been a big influence for sure. Growing up in Tucson and then moving to Tempe for school had me listening to a lot of artists from here. Getting to play with and open for some of my favorite local artists has been a huge thing for me, and touring with the guys in The Maine have been some of the best times in my life.
TMM: Can you talk a little about the production process behind your new EP, Skyline?
Wanderer: I wrote and arranged everything myself. At home I tend to write out the whole song with every part in the demo. Drums, keys, samples, etc… I arrange all of that while writing. I took my demos to Matt Keller, a good friend and producer here in Phoenix. He really helped me shape and tighten up the songs and added a bit of magic to them that I think they were needing. “Miss You More At Night” was one demo that I took to Nashville and recorded with my friend Chase. His producing style and ideas for the arrangement made a big difference. Even little tweaks can change a song for me so much.
TMM: What’s the songwriting process typically like for you? Are there are any themes or structures you tend to employ?
Wanderer: No set structure per se, but I definitely have my style and my way of writing songs. I’m huge on melody and having a good chorus and hook that is memorable. Lyrics come after that, and I like to have a lot of imagery and personal details where the song permits.
TMM: Which song off Skyline do you feel closest to and why?
Wanderer: That’s hard to say. Sonically, “Who’s Gonna Love You” is my favorite. To me it feels like a Fleetwood Mac song mixed with something made today. Lyrically, “California Looks Good On You” is one of my most specific and personal songs. That one takes me back to a very literal time and place, and has a lot of memories associated with it.
TMM: How has your work evolved at all since releasing your debut EP, C I T Y, a few years ago?
Wanderer: I think it has definitely grown. Both in my vocal ability, songwriting, and even in lyrics and musical style. I like to think of this second EP as a refined and more forward continuation of that era.
TMM: In what ways has social media enhanced (or hindered) your work as an independent musician?
Wanderer: I’d say it has totally helped. A ton of fans that I’ve kept in touch with for years and years I’ve never met personally, but through social media, I’m able to communicate and build relationships with so many people that I wouldn’t get to otherwise. It’s a pretty cool thing when you think about it.
TMM: What has been your most memorable music moment so far?
Wanderer: I just got home from playing the final Vans Warped Tour, playing guitar and keys with my friends in The Maine. Those shows were insane and it was the best summer of my life. Aside from that, traveling to the Philippines for a show was a really special thing, and doing my own headline shows with my songs as Wanderer, with a full band behind me, is always a really wild experience.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for Wanderer?
Wanderer: Shows, videos, and more music. It won’t be long before I’m releasing more songs. xo