Interview: Woodes – “Music Has Always Been My Form Of Processing”
Australian singer-songwriter Woodes is set to captivate audiences once again with her newly released EP, Kingdom Come, out today (June 9th, 2023), via Nettwerk. Ahead of the release date, Woodes sat down with Recordspin to discuss her creative process, personal growth, and the enchanting musical journey that awaits listeners.
Woodes, artist name for Elle Graham, creates captivating songs that accompany you on your journey. With her alternative pop soundscapes, she weaves together emotions of nostalgia, longing, and hope, crafting dynamic and dreamy anthems. With millions of streams and recognition from acclaimed publications like NME and Complex, Woodes‘ cinematic approach shines on her latest EP, Kingdom Come.
Her musical career began with the self-titled debut EP, Woodes, in 2016, followed by collaborations such as the platinum-certified smash hit “I Belong Here” with Set Mo. The Golden Hour EP in 2018, featuring tracks like “Dots” and “Run For It,” dominated Australia’s Triple J charts. In 2020, Woodes reached new heights with the release of “Crystal Ball,” which earned critical acclaim and chart success. Her powerful performances have graced festivals like Splendour in the Grass and SXSW, and she has toured with artists such as Thelma Plum, Asgier, and Sylvan Esso.
During the pandemic, Woodes underwent personal transformations, including the end of a long-term relationship. Relocating from Melbourne to Brisbane, she collaborated with friend Danny Harley, better known as The Kite String Tangle. This period resulted in a raw and independent version of Woodes, channeling her experiences into the creation of the Kingdom Come EP.
Within the EP, listeners will be enveloped in introspective tracks such as “Forever After,” which has received praise for its delicate and contemplative nature, and the title track “Kingdom Come,” where Woodes skillfully combines dynamic vocals, gentle piano melodies, and captivating electronic elements. With heartfelt lyrics, she delves into the complexities of a fractured relationship and the rise and fall of metaphorical realms. These profoundly personal compositions showcase Woodes‘ vulnerability and illustrate her personal growth as an artist.
Woodes‘ ethereal vocals beautifully carry the enchanting essence of “Magic,” a deeply introspective song that explores the delicate interplay of love’s beauty and melancholy. The EP culminates with “Rescue,” where her voice effortlessly melds with icy electronic textures, leading to a cathartic chorus that resonates profoundly. Each track holds a unique significance, with “Rescue” evoking nostalgic childhood memories and symbolizing the importance of a bridge traversed daily during the recording process.
Ahead of the Kingdom Come release, Recordspin caught up with Woodes via email to talk about the record. Here’s what she had to say.
Hey Elle, thanks for spending the time to talk to us today. How are you doing?
Of course, thanks for having me! I’m going really well, so excited to be finally about to release new music. I love releasing full bundles of songs. It’s great to be sharing an EP again.
With your EP out on June 9th, what can listeners expect in terms of its sound and themes?
This EP is really some personal unfolding and processing. It’s some of my most personal stuff as Elle, maybe more so than Woodes? They really blended in here, and that felt sustainable for me, to let my fans into my own world. I’ve let it be quite raw and simple in the arrangements as it was all about me finding power within myself after a breakup and moving interstate. I was leaving a relationship that I thought I’d be in forever, which was the first time really going through something of that nature. Kingdom Come is about building a castle with someone and realizing that it was falling brick, by brick. A lot of it is written real-time, as music has always been my form of processing.
Watch Woodes’ “Forever After” music video below
How did your personal experiences and emotions influence the songwriting process for this EP?
A big thing that I was focused on was not overworking it. I was going through a heavy time in my personal life and I wanted to create music to help process it. “Kingdom Come” was the first song I wrote – it was originally called “Undone”. I was in a place of disbelief that the world around me and my relationship had collapsed. I moved interstate and really went into my own personal healing. I worked with my therapist, I sought support from my friends and my family, and ended up having a beautiful year of memories and experiences that were more about the community around me… rather than trying to problem solve a relationship. It was an important time of self-healing & recognizing my worth in my community. All of that went into the music.
For the record, we read about how you worked with Danny Harley (The Kite String Tangle). How do you feel he influenced the recording process compared to your previous works?
Danny and I can be brave with our musician choices because we have made so much music together. I feel like we have this invisible language in the studio and can be rather independent in our processes, then link up the lyrics/melody/instrumentation or beats together when it feels right. He’ll be tinkering at the sound design and I’ll be humming things into my phone at the back of the room, we might swap and be at the piano or synth. We don’t need to feel awkward or whatever – we just move around the space and start on what we hear. It works well, because it’s like the ideas circle each other and then collide and the song feels… done? It always surprises us, even after all these years.
Due to this music being so personal to me, it felt important for me to work with a close friend and collaborator. He is a great sounding board because I trust that he knows what’s good. But he’ll also pull vulnerability out, because of that trust. It was beautiful having his partner and baby in the process with us at the start, they came up to Sunshine Coast with us when the EP started. We would play board games and spend time together looking after his son. It was just before Bowie had started walking. Lots of group reflection and joy.
Watch Woodes’ “Magic” music video below
From the songs you’ve released already or those yet to be shared from the upcoming EP, are there any tracks on the EP that hold special significance to you, and if so, could you share the stories behind them?
There’s a song on the EP called “The Girl” and it was the hardest one to write. It’s essentially about realizing that potentially by breaking up with someone – you’re allowing them to find the space to meet their dream girl. I’m singing about all the positive qualities she’ll have and lamenting about how hard I tried to meet those traits.
Your three singles (Magic, Lifetime, Forever After) all feature these visually stunning music videos, mostly shot across Australian National Parks, how do you feel they have enhanced the overall listening experience and what was the rationale around those location shoots?
I wanted to create music videos with my friends around Victoria in Australia where every song had a hike. I hope it inspires my fans and community to go out into nature and see what’s in your own back yard. I wanted to create music videos that were sustainable & about friends exploring in the wild.
As we eagerly await the release of this EP, what lies next in store for you? New record, tour dates, etc.?
I’m working on lots of new things. Some tour dates ahead… new music ahead, new collaborations. I’ve been building away in the shadows.
And, to close, what song/EP/album have you been playing on repeat recently?