HI-FI First Friday November feat. JJ Wilde
Dogfish Head Presents: HI-FI First Fridays
About JJ Wilde
When someone asked JJ Wilde to choose between music and a relationship, there’s only ever been one answer: music. Music has permeated every part of JJ Wilde’s life since childhood, and it’s something she’s held closely: an unwavering connection she’s fought to foster.
But in 2018, Wilde came to a crossroads. At 26, she was working three jobs and had resigned to the idea that music might not work out for her, but she continued writing because that’s what she was born to do. By then, she amassed over 500 songs, some of which became the basis for her debut EP, Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands.
Wilde may not have had a clear vision of what exactly Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands would look like, but she knew how she wanted it to feel.
“Before the writing trip I had thought about what I had to say, what my message was and that was to give an unfiltered, unapologetic point of view on my personal experiences, and really anything. I just wanted it to be raw,” says Wilde.
In just eight days, Wilde compiled the EP in what she recalls as an “intense experience.” Those eight days, she had essentially been preparing for her whole life. Wilde wrote songs because it was something she felt she had to do, but she didn’t realize what the songs could become until she started creating Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands. In the beginning of the process, Wilde wrote two to three songs per day. “It’s like all the writing I had done before, all my experiences both musically and personally had lead me to this point where I could say it all,” she says. Recording the EP was also the first time Wilde had been as hands on with writing the instrumentation as well, which she did for guitars, drums, bass and keys alongside producer Frederik Thaae.
Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands is, in fact, a raw, unapologetic view of the world through the eyes of a 26- year-old woman. With her debut single “Wired,” there’s an urgency in Wilde’s gritty vocals as she mulls over her own mundane routine wishing for a life she doesn’t have. Wilde’s brooding ode to doing what’s wrong, even though it feels right. “The rush, the lust, you can’t trust,” Wilde wails. Heartbreak is laced through the EP’s six songs as Wilde recounts pouring her soul into a relationship instead of herself on “Gave It All,” and recalling an ultimatum she got from an ex about her dedication to her career. But Wilde finds hope on the Springsteen-tinged anthem “State of Mind,” “seeing hope through a broken lens.”
Wilde Eyes and Steady Hands is a culmination of Wilde’s journey: raw, rough and full of brutal honesty. “I wanted to tell people who I am, so they could enjoy it…or not.”
Irreplaceable chemistry transpires between four musicians. The tried-and-true configuration of a four-piece rock band unlocks an endless array of possibilities. Nashville-based Betcha not only recognizes such limitlessness, but they also leverage it. Ultimately, the quartet—Charlie Greene [vocals, guitar], Ben Booth [lead guitar], Taylor Dubray [bass, keys], and Chase Wofford [drums]—breathe new life into this traditional ideal. On their 2019 debut for Atlantic Records, expansive vibes encompass sweetly stoned rock, electronic-backed alternative, and punchy pop anthems, evoking the power of four.
“It’s such a staple to be a four-piece rock band,” exclaims Charlie. “You can literally name dozens and dozens of groups with this setup. Individually, it was something we all aspired to. It was our dream. We grew up loving these kinds of guitar-driven acts. It took a while, but we ended up with the right combination together.”
“The best case scenario for us was to build a four piece band that all had the same sense of music and style,” adds Taylor. “Somehow, we made it happen.”
It began in a bell tower at Belmont University…
As freshmen in 2015, Charlie and Ben started jamming together, writing songs, and filming acoustic videos. Both avowed Kings of Leon fans, the boys cold-emailed one of those D.I.Y. videos to GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Jacquire King [Kaleo, James Bay]. Impressed even at this early stage, Jacquire encouraged them to “keep going, get a band together, and send more music.” Throughout the summer of 2016, Charlie and Ben welcomed Taylor—who transitioned from guitar to bass in order to join—and Chase. Stirring up a buzz on the college circuit, they won a Belmont University “Battle of the Bands” and performed anywhere and everywhere under the name Wilder. Eventually, the guys found themselves in the studio recording with Jacquire King behind the board. Building a profile, a deal with Atlantic Records followed a standout 2017 gig at The End in Nashville. They went on to attract a growing fan base on national tours alongside Kaleo, Moon Taxi, NEEDTOBREATHE and more.
Rechristened in 2018 as Betcha—a combination of the first letters of their names (Ben, Taylor, Charlie, and Chase)—the members moved into a shared house and continued to evolve.
“We used to practice in a cold garage, plug in, and play,” recalls Ben. “Now, we try to switch up our creative process, so it’s not just bass, guitar, drums, and electric instruments. We’re incorporating more electronic-based ethereal elements. We’re grinding to make the best music possible no matter what is. It’s all under the umbrella of who we are.”
The band teased this next chapter with an acoustic take on the fan favorite “Losing My Mind” before dropping the 2019 single “Coincidental.” Powered by delicate picking, dreamy instrumentation, and bluesy crooning.
“Betcha is something you can listen to in any type of mood,” Charlie leaves off. “If you’re getting ready to hit the highway and need to fucking jam out, you can blast Betcha. If you’re feeling down and need something to vibe out to in your room, you can blast Betcha. We’re never going to limit ourselves. That’s our mindset, and it takes all of us to achieve it.”