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A Musician’s Moment: With Azure Wolf

by Andy Reed

Out of the female-fronted bands in the DMV, Azure Wolf is one to give your undivided attention. With stomping grounds centered around Winchester, VA, the band began as a solo folk project and quickly expanded into the four-piece lineup that stands today. Azure Wolf’s ethereal brand of spacerock carries dreamlike qualities, with haunting vocals and an arrangement that’s sonically rich in time, timbre and rhythmic manipulation. Listeners of the band will feel real, defined emotions, as the band continues to write and produce new music that is sure to delight the ears and the brains in the space between. 

Luckily enough, I was able to catch up with Azure Wolf after our last interview to see how things were going, and to get a deeper look at the band structure and inner workings of their musical process. Listen to their latest single, “Black Fur” while we dive in with the band –  

This song and other great music featured on our site can be found on the
Alchemical Weekly Spotify Playlist 

A: You’ve been in the studio working on new material. How was the recording process different from previous studio sessions in the past? 

Victoria Backle (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar): We’ve recently started recording at our lead guitarist, Isaac Foltz’s, home studio.  This has given us the freedom to expand on our sound and take our time while working through the production side of things.  Our release, “Black Fur”, was recorded in a professional studio along with the rest of the album that will be releasing in the fall, so it was a drastically different experience than what we have now.  We were on a tight time crunch to get down ten songs; it was challenging, but we’re very proud of the end product.  After recording and trying out a few different producers, we finally sent “Black Fur” to a London label, The Animal Farm, and they’re the ones that really helped us figure out how to make the song perfect. 

Isaac Foltz (Vocals/Lead Guitar): Our studio process is becoming an extension of our writing process. Since we have an abundance of time, we are able to think more critically about our song structure, sonic space and instrumentation. Studio sessions, sometimes, can be very stressful because of the cost per hour. Luckily, we have our own space and gear to track everything on our own and make song writing decisions in the later stages of production. 

Tommy Moore (Drums):  We did it the old school Beatles kind of way where the band gets in the studio and jams it out live and the engineer records it. We are a live band at heart so we wanted to try and capture the live energy on record; I think we got pretty close. For me it was the first time in a professional studio and it felt like it. As a drummer, the studio is intense because you have two hours of crazy pressure to get a couple tracks perfect and then about eight hours of no action at all while everyone does their overdubs and experiments with their parts. Luckily our studio had a pool table which kept us busy in between takes – the wine helped too. 

Sean Spencer (Bass/Synth): Our latest studio endeavors have been increasingly independent. Isaac has worked incredibly hard to become proficient in working as our engineer so that we can try to make the most honest, unfiltered version of our vision as possible, and that pursuit has defined our latest studio sessions. 

How has COVID-19 influenced you as a band?

Victoria: We were birthed out of COVID, so it’s honestly been the most influential thing we’ve had to deal with thus far. Our very first show together was one day before everything shut down last March, so you can imagine we were pretty discouraged by that. However, we’ve utilized this last year to our full advantage. We’ve been writing constantly, we recorded our first album, filmed our first music video, honed our sound and strengthened our live performances via live streaming. Despite the setbacks, we’ve been incredibly productive and the experiences have grown an inseparable bond between the four of us.

Sean: It has provided plenty of time for us to find our blend of rock, that’s for sure. We are extremely close friends, and limiting our social experiences to mostly seeing each other has been a great way to grow that closeness. But I think I can safely say we are ready to take some stages by storm!

Tommy: A ton! The COVID stuff has allowed us to shape our sound without the pressure of touring or other distractions. We’ve been able to throw ourselves completely into the creative process and I think it’ll come out on this record.

What does your songwriting process look like?

Sean: If we are not building off a song idea that someone has brought, it starts with chance exploration. More than once, the basis for new song exploration has come from trying to write parts for something that is already in the works, realizing that the riffs or grooves we’re coming up with is great but maybe not the perfect fit, so we shelve it for use in another song. The lynch pin in the whole thing is keeping in touch with the vibe of what we’re working on, and trying to manifest that continually as we finish out songs.

Tommy: There are really two ways we write a song. The original way is that V would bring a song to the table already written with vocals and guitar and we would jam it out to get our parts down. Recently though, Sean and Isaac have been coming up with riffs that we jam on and if the song is good V will write lyrics right there on the spot.

Your newest single “Black Fur,” an ethereal groove with haunting vocals, colorful guitars and a driving rhythm section, was just released April 9. What was the inspiration behind the lyrics? 
Victoria: The song’s lyrics were inspired by personal experiences I had during a dark time in my life.  The “black fur” represents a duality between what we are and what we project to the world, and ultimately about disassociating from traumatic experiences. “I’ll find my self-assure when I put on my black fur” is about allowing the alter ego to take over and becoming whatever is needed to get through the moment. 

After “Black Fur” what’s next for you? 
Victoria: “Black Fur” is the first of four singles we’ll be releasing this summer.  You’ll see two music videos coming out this summer too, so we can show you who we are and what we’re about.  Our first full length album will be released in the fall of 2021 and we’re planning on as many socially-distanced and live streamed shows as we can fit this summer! Thank you all for the support and love you’ve been giving us, we hope we keep releasing songs that make you move, groove and cry. 
Sean: Hopefully, continued lyrical exploration of the things that we continue to carry with us. Hopes, dreams, fears, traumas… I think these are what we pour into our music, and I have a feeling that the inspiration there is going to be vastly influential for a long time. And then, fate willing, a tour! 

In addition to “Black Fur” The band recently recorded a double-sided single out in a cabin in the woods and produced two songs, “Pieces” and “Both Hands” which became available on all major platforms on February 1. Or you can check out Azure Wolf’s quarantine-composed hit, “19.″ For more details, visit the Azure Wolf website. 

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Andy Reed

When he isn’t playing guitar, producing music or interviewing bands for Alchemical Records, Reed enjoys spending time with his family, his girlfriend Megan and two dogs Beau and Daisy. You can find him on Instagram at @andy.reed15

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