Premiere: Blue Wilson Shares New Album ‘Future Street’ – Steam It Below

Premiere: Blue Wilson Shares New Album ‘Future Street’ – Steam It Below

Future Street Is Out on April 1st via Acrophase

Mar 31, 2022

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Blue Wilson is the new project from LA-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Michael Stevenson. After quietly releasing home recordings ever since his teenage years, Stevenson paired with his college classmate Rounak Maiti, exploring the worlds of nostalgic ‘70s AM pop and psych with his band Small Forward. Small Forward debuted in 2016 and released their first full-length record in 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning.

Fortunately, the time and space of pandemic-era isolation offered Stevenson the chance to craft his most personal work yet with his new record, Future Street. The full album is out tomorrow, April 1st, but you can get an early listen to the record below, premiering with Under the Radar.

Sonically, Blue Wilson occupies much the same lane as Small Forward or fellow contemporaries like Foxygen or Lemon Twigs. Yet, each emotive pop gem darts in subtly different directions, putting fresh and distinct spins on well-worn sounds. Opener “Underwater Dance” acts as a dreamy merger of hazy pop forms with kaleidoscopic psych melodies, backed by gorgeous string arrangements. Similarly, “Come Back Soon” marries breezy sun-lit melodies with a yearning underlying melancholy, only to give way to a warm psych folk sing-along with “The Wringer.” Meanwhile, tracks like “American Cement” or “Everybody Goes Their Own Way” make full use of the studio, crafting truly expansive highlights. With Future Street Blue Wilson captures the intimacy, beauty, and ambition of his influences and reframes them within thoughtful and personal confessions.

As Stevenson explains, “Future Street is where I wrote the record – perched up in a tiny treehouse studio apartment in Los Angeles. I live alone and have found a lot of comfort in my reclusivity. This record is my attempt to parse out the contradiction of enjoying that isolation while needing meaningful human connection – a sentiment I encounter daily. Having self-produced all my own music in the past, I was hesitant to approach an outside producer, however working with Ben Lumsdaine was a profoundly wonderful experience. His spirit and musicianship is all over this record and I think the joy we had in the studio comes across in the music. It’s my first album outside of my Small Forward project and I wanted to approach it with a lot of care and focus. I wanted to take Blue Wilson out of the ‘bedroom recording project’ and try something on a bigger scale sonically.”

Check out the full album below. You can also read our Q&A with Stevenson where he explores his thoughts on the record.

1. This is your first full-length album as Blue Wilson. Going into the record, what was your vision for the project?

I knew I wanted to take my time writing this record. There are about 15 demo versions of each song, all with different ideas and instrumentations. I wanted the lyrics to be personal and true and thought out. In the past, either with Small Forward or Blue Wilson I always felt I was working under the pressure of schedules or some urge to put out as much music as possible. With the pandemic, I had the luxury of time and I wanted to utilize that to create something cohesive and deliberate. I also wanted the songs to feel different from one another, somewhat genreless sounding. That was a point I made to Ben when we first discussed him producing the record. I love the contrast between songs like “American Cement” and “The Wringer”.

2. What do you feel sets Blue Wilson apart from your other main project, Small Forward?

Blue Wilson is an umbrella for all the music I write independently. While collaboration in the writing process is a treasure in its own right, creating something solely from your own mind lends itself to a certain vulnerability of which I enjoy. I wanted this record to harness that sentiment. It is unabashedly me, for better or worse. Musically, I think Small Forward and Blue Wilson lay in similar veins, and obviously having another songwriter/singer in Rounak Maiti creates a lot of beautiful contrast in the Small Forward releases.

5. Musically, Future Street shows a lot of influence from psych rock, classic ‘70s pop ballads, folk, etc. What artists were you listening to and drawing from when creating the album?

A few of the artists that inspired me while making this record: Carole King, Delicate Steve, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Glen Campbell, Durand Jones, Sharon Van Etten, Helado Negro, Cass McCombs. Truthfully, I like to keep the writing and recording process isolated from outside music. I don’t think Ben (producer) or I listened to anything in the studio while making this record, but undoubtedly the artists mentioned above played a role in one way or another.

4. You said that you were initially apprehensive about working with an outside producer. How did working with Ben Lumsdaine change the record?

I’ve always produced my own music, both as Blue Wilson and Small Forward, so I figured this time would be no different. In fact, I already had a lot of the songs recorded and was prepared to release them as the album. Something flipped in my mind when I first met Ben at his studio. He’s an engineering wizard with the kindest soul; a musical genius on every instrument. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with him. He’s all over the record both as a musician and producer– his drumming took the music to another level, such incredible feel. It was a joy to work with someone who was as invested in my songs as I was, and for that I am extremely thankful.

5. As you’ve described, a lot of the record explores the tension between isolation and companionship. Do you find that tension extends to your music? Is it difficult to invite people into your creative process?

As I get older, bringing people into my creative process, or life for that matter, has become a lot easier. With age comes perspective and as cliche as it sounds, enjoying the process of making something far outweighs whatever feeling you have towards the end result. A younger me wanted all the control over whatever I was creating (some pseudo-unhealthy perfectionist tendencies). Now I am prioritizing the process a lot more, enjoying the journey and wanting to create art with others. I think making this record changed a lot of things for me. Both literally, branching out of my bedroom recording setup to work with Ben in a studio, and lyrically – sorting through that very theme of isolation vs. companionship.

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