Today, Berlin/Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist and multimedia artist Christina Wheeler shares her poignant album, Songs of S+D, out everywhere now. Over the course of twelve tracks, Wheeler personalizes the full spectrum of universal emotions, examines human experience, and ponders existential questions by blending vulnerable, honest songwriting with his own distinct “soul-gaze” sound – a combination of soul and shoe-gaze. .
Although constructed from personal experience, Songs of S+D allows Wheeler to observe the human condition through a lens of necessary discernment. With a deep knowledge of instrument and composition, Wheeler fuses genres in a unique way, moving beyond a conventional understanding of sound as she uses everything from electro-acoustic instrumentation, which she interpolates with analog electronic processing and digital, with the metal teeth of the African kalimba on the autoharp.
In much of her work, Wheeler explores the porous and delicate lines between universal dichotomies such as good and evil, life and loss, exaltation and devastation.
S+D’s songs distinctly ask what it might be like to merge the sounds that surrounded Wheeler as a child, from soul and R&B to funk and disco, with a shoe-like look. The recording process for the album took place between the Red Bull studios in Berlin and New York, as well as the Vox-Ton studio in Berlin.
Wheeler expanded the scope and quality of the record 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 recording.
Describing the significance of his LP, Wheeler says, “This is a deeply personal album that has been in the works for a long time. Inspired by my experience of living through 9/11 in New York and the subsequent attempt to negotiate the aftermath of that era once that I moved to Berlin I started writing a series of songs dealing with the larger human experience of life, loss, joy, ecstasy, sadness and condition universal connection, framed in the context of vivid and intimate vignettes.
With a unique vocal, musical and technological ability, Wheeler ultimately aims to connect listeners by finding common ground in the collectively lived human experience. Wheeler explains, “As technology continues to evolve, the human voice remains constant in the singing of songs. With this project, I hope to share with the world modern music that speaks to our universal experiences and connects us through the simple and evocative themes of the narrative and emotional content of my songs.”
Wheeler’s extensive career includes work as a soloist, band member, featured artist and even immersive multimedia performer. As a soloist, Wheeler has composed and performed his own pieces for the Free Rotation Festival and Experimental Intermedia, the Issue Project Room and the Bang on a Can Festival in New York. Fact Magazine reported on her performance of one of her solo pieces titled “Surrender to the Totality of Blackness”, which she presented at this year’s CTM Festival. Her journey has also seen her collaborate and lead several band projects including Wiremouth, Floating People and BlowOut, in addition to her time with David Byrne as he tours across the US, Europe and Australia. South America, as well as on The Late Night. Show with David Letterman, where she made her television debut with Byrne.
In addition to appearing with Byrne on PBS’ Sessions at West 54th, Wheeler has recorded and performed with countless musicians like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Chaka Khan, Vernon Reid, and more. Most recently, Wheeler performed at her official showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX on March 18 at the Hideout Theater, and shortly before that she supported Jaimie Branch at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right on March 16.
Christina Wheeler’s latest collection, Songs of S+D, intimately examines the human condition with intricate instrumentation and moving lyricism. The full LP is out everywhere now, with the full track listing below. Find more from Christina Wheeler on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bandcamp.
Listen to the new album here: