Spree Wilson‘s story is delectable tele-movie fodder: young musician moves to New York with naught but one bag, one guitar and, just like thousands of others who flood the city, a naive and perilous amount of ambition. The singer-songwriter sleeps in train stations and couch surfs courtesy of the kindness of others before (here’s the climax) receiving a call from Q-Tip about his self-produced acoustic R&B-pop songs. “A mutual friend passed my music to him, and he [said that he] heard something really special in it,” Wilson recounts. The phone call proved terribly fortuitous and eventually traced a path to Jive, the major label to which the Nashville native is now signed.
Accumulating kudos from credible sources including the Roots, Wilson is stepping out next week via a 14-track collection of songs. The Never Ending Now is a life thus-far memoir chronicling “moments that we wish could last forever,” he says. “For good or bad, these moments have shaped me into who I am today.” The release contains massive breakout hooks on par with the stickiness of a B.o.B./Bruno Mars’ “Nothin’ On You,” but Wilson’s vocals that alternate between rap and song are less polished and, dare we say (for fear of sounding tele-movie), more real.
Download our exclusive track, Wilson’s reinterpretation of the White Stripes’ “Bound To Pack It Up,” here, and stream it below.
You’re pitted as a R&B/hip-hop artist, yet from the looks of things (i.e. your top 10 album list of 2010) what you listen to skews heavily toward indie rock. How does this feed into your own music and your take on R&B and hip-hop?
It serves more as resource material, as well as any other genre of music, to be able to experiment. I consider myself, more than anything, a collage artist. I’ve always wanted to be to the music world what people like Felipe Jesus Consalvos or even Picasso are to the art world. Taking little pieces from everything that inspires me in some form and putting it together to tell a story, because at the end of the day that’s all we as artist really are—storytellers.
Being signed to a major, what’s your opinion on the commercial R&B/hip-hop scene right now? Where do you see yourself fitting in?
Commercial hip-hop/R&B as a whole hasn’t been the greatest for sometime now. Of course you have a few highlights here and there, but as a whole it’s a little mundane these days. The number of artists who are making an impact have dropped significantly in the last few years. It’s a bit disheartening. I’ve never made music to fit in. If anything I hope to stand out. I’ve been an outsider all my life. I just create what feels right to me, with the idea that there are people out there just like me who can relate to what I do.
Your major at university was film. How does this inform your approach to music, if at all?
Film has always been a major part of my life, just as much as music. There are times, just for fun, I put a film on mute and compose my own score to it. I’ve done one to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and one to Dr. Strangelove. Those are usually mini-projects that take me away from the stress of doing my own solo stuff and just allows me to have fun being an artist and musician. I really would like to score films in the future. I’ve always loved someone like Jon Brion’s approach to film scoring. He’s always been one of my heroes.
Before settling in New York, you moved to Atlanta from Nashville for school. What did you learn and take with you from the artists within the scene down there?
Nashville, similar to New York, has been a place many have come to follow a dream. I used to hear as a kid of people taking the Greyhound, with just a duffel bag and a guitar to Nashville in hopes of being the next big thing to play at the Grand Ole Opry. There’s a certain kind of strength it takes for a person to leave everything they’ve known to follow what they believe in their heart to be their destiny. I’ve always found that to be very brave. Maybe that’s what subconsciously encouraged me to do the same years later. Atlanta is just the mecca for the most creative, expressive and most fearless artist ever! There is truly a scene for everyone in Atlanta.