Wax Charmer is a ripe refreshment to the LA music scene. Mixing genres that feel nostalgic as a childhood car ride with the oomph of seasoned musical virtuosos, the threesome stands out amongst tried and true genre-centric identifiers. And it clearly works. They already have an ambitious self-released and delightfully palatable EP to their name this month and an exciting debut with LA’s own Baby Collective at South By South West next month. Brimming with curiosity, I had the opportunity to ask the band a bit more ahead of their show this weekend at The Resident in Downtown Los Angeles.
LA CANVAS: Hey guys! Thanks for taking the time! Looks like you have a lot of excitement coming. How are you feeling leading up to the release show on the 27th?
WAX CHARMER: We’re keeping very busy over here, not only self-releasing and promoting this current EP, but simultaneously recording a follow-up. There’s so much to anticipate not only with this show, producing together, and designing a whole new round of merch sooner than we thought, but now that we got into SXSW as official artists, our next few weeks just suddenly became a bigger deal than we anticipated. So much to do, so little time as they say…
LAC: How did y’all come together?
WC: We were all introduced to each other through mutual friends at one point. Henry and Jordan went to the same college and formed a band called Jubilo Drive, which later reformulated to include Jacob on drums, and we’ve been playing together ever since.
LAC: There are so many interesting elements to your songs, what influences did you individually bring to the table when forming Wax Charmer?
WC: Each of us grew up with different musical experiences and on different instruments, which shaped how we approach playing and songwriting.
But what’s interesting to find is as you get older and your music tastes expand from the comfort of adolescence — say, just listening to “rock” music — you may tend to write more toward your current listening selection, even if that style or genre is distant from what you grew up listening to… when you try to emulate your current inspiration using the “moves” you learned growing up, and finding that the fusion of those things becomes your style.
And we have to shout out our great friend and producer/engineer Aaron Shadrow, who we write and record with, and whose bass playing and synths are all over this record.
LAC: You’ve released “Downstairs” and “Emblem” as singles ahead of “Suburban Replay” – what was some of the inspiration for these tracks?
WC: Without giving away too much, they are reflections on our modern times.
LAC: Are you LA-natives? How did you find yourselves on the scene out here?
WC: [Jordan] I was born and raised in The Valley, but I love this whole city so much.
When Henry and I were in college, there was a pretty sub-par weekend scene aside from wall-to-wall house parties. After trying our hand in Orange County for a bit, we tried to start playing weekends up in Los Angeles, we’d play any show we could land.
A few years after putting in some work, I met Kevin Bronson, of Buzzbands.LA. The spirit he has for music is inspiring; I believe he’s one of the city’s greatest music champions. I started to work for him helping with Buzzbands’ social media and I started meeting all the bands in the Echo Park scene. I’d cover them on Instagram and get to know the ones whose music I dug. Pretty soon, we were playing at the venues I was going to five nights a week for about a year until I learned felt embedded in the scene.
In early 2018, we linked up with Jacob to resume our project Jubilo Drive, which had been on hold for about a year. From then on we pushed deeper into the scene and in October 2019 retired Jubilo Drive and founded Wax Charmer.
Though they’ve lived in Los Angeles for a few years, Jacob and Henry are both from the Bay Area, though they didn’t know each other before linking up down here.
LAC: What’s your approach in songwriting?
WC: Songwriting with us is always mixed. We sometimes bring nearly partial or nearly finished ideas to each other and we each add some flavor to them. One of the hardest things to accept, but also important to remind yourself is that the finished product will never be exactly how you imagine it the first time in your head.
LAC: What have you been listening to and reading lately?
WC: [JORDAN] I’ve been revisiting the Ramones, diving deeper into L.A. locals Draag, and exploring ‘90s Psy-Trance (which is super left-field for me, but it’s one of those weeks, y’know?). I mostly read the news, and it’s… not so great..
[JACOB] I’ve been listening to a lot of hardcore punk lately, while also trying to really invest in and support the other bands in our scene. I mostly stick to fiction and poetry on the reading side.
[HENRY] It’s all over the place, but Perry Farrell’s 2001 solo album “Song Yet to Be Sung” and the Uncut Gems soundtrack. I just finished reading Flea’s “Acid for the Children” and it was excellent.
LAC: What do y’all like to do when you’re not working on your music?
WC: [JACOB] Snowboarding, hitting the gym, making cocktails or probably working on other music.
[HENRY] Graphic design, the beach, going on a drive through the hills, food & beverage.
[JORDAN] Listen to hot jazz with my cool dog.
LAC: Any other exciting surprises for your release at The Resident?
WC: We just announced a giveaway where you can enter for a chance to win a shirt and swag from our latest merch collection when you buy a ticket to the show!
LAC: 2020’s gearing up to be a big year for y’all, with varying shows around the state and country – what are y’all most looking forward to this year?
WC: A nice trip to the desert at the end of it… Get well, stay well, pard’ner.