Sometimes when everything seems too overwhelming or confusing, there is a side of us with faith, telling ourselves everything is going to be alright in the end. In 2017, Benjamin Dunn of The Wild Wild continues forming this belief with the single “Alright,” a synth-pop sound for enjoyment and nostalgia. With a new partnership with Descendant Records, The Wild Wild emerged a few years ago, a different sound from Dunn’s other project, Animal Orchestra. Dunn hopes The Wild Wild becomes a signal for listeners to enjoy themselves.
“I take inspiration from musicians and artists everywhere, and when you listen, you can hear that,” he says. “I think there is something for everyone in my music.”
Inspiration is an experience musicians funnel through, crafting other experiences and memories for a listener. So, if C.S. Lewis could imagine a simple wardrobe beyond its wood to an entire universe, then a musician does likewise, turning other things or experiences into potential song ideas without picking or choosing.
“[I’m inspired by] everything and anything. I’m inspired by a lot of books I read. I’m a big fan of C.S. Lewis,” Dunn says. “I’m inspired by the people I meet, places I go, friends and family, other musicians. I take inspiration from life.”
In 2016, The Wild Wild signed with Descendant Records and Sony Entertainment, releasing the extended play Kids. The major release set the stage for a pad of modern and retro sound. It’s appropriate and appealing for long drives and opportunities for self-exploration, or something bigger. The Wild Wild’s Benjamin Dunn says his self-exploration in lyric-writing was a sudden one, looking to fictional heroes.
“I have been writing songs since I can remember. I think the first song I wrote was when I was a young boy. It was about Superman—or maybe Superwoman, actually,” he says. When asked on the benefits of songwriting alone or with others, Dunn speaks highly of it. “It’s a great creative outlet to put down what you’re feeling or thinking into a song,” he says. “Collaborating with people is icing on the cake. It’s great to work together and jam and create a piece of magic.”
I take inspiration from musicians and artists everywhere, and when you listen, you can hear that.
Song creation for The Wild Wild is as spontaneous as the name. “I sing it, grab the closest instrument, and start to play the melodies that I’m hearing in my head and work through it,” Dunn explains. The closest instruments are ideally ones Dunn can work with, such as the guitar, ukulele, banjo, any string instrument, and the reliable piano. Moving the rough draft to that special gem requires additional work, but it’s a time for Dunn’s own self-exploration into the song itself and the tools he’ll use during a recording session. “[It’s usually] me alone, late at night, surrounded by the synths and just getting lost and putting in the work,” he says.
The Wild Wild opened 2017 with the single “Alright,” which Dunn created to be more than just a song, but a lyrical hero for the soul, with lyrics: “Let me take the world off your shoulders, let me take the weight off your chest / You know when I’m around, everything’s gonna be alright.”
“I think I wrote it as some sort of folk hero anthem to myself,” he admits. “It’s a common theme that everyone has in his or her heart—the ability to put one foot in front of the other and to keep going, just knowing that everything will be okay.”
He hopes the song serves as a reminder to keep on going no matter how crazy the world seems to get. “You can walk away from the song with a happy vibe,” he says. “It’s a nice feeling. I think with everything going on right now in today’s current climate, it’s a great reminder to keep going and that there will be a silver lining.”
With The Wild Wild, new listeners can expect more music, more releases, and its frontman to keep going with an additional goal of his own: no more smoking.
The Wild Wild Talks Inspiration & His Single, “Alright.” Photographed by Katie Ulrich.