“Breaking off toxic relations from people are always bound to be difficult.”
Chicago-based synth-pop/darkwave Wingtips is the duo of Vincent Segretario and Hannah Avalon. Hannah, who was previously involved with Wingtips as live support, joined the band as a full member on their first EP Greyarea, and the duo continues their seamless collaboration on their debut album Exposure Therapy out tomorrow, August 23rd on Artoffact Records.
In anticipation of the release, we are excited to be able to bring to you early exclusive streaming access to what has been for us here at Obscura Undead one of the best synth-driven releases of 2019. What we know about Wingtips’ sound is that it’s always been pretty firmly established\as steeped in a retro-aesthetic channeling “Disintegration” era The Cure and Thompson Twins. With their debut however, Vincent and Hannah immediately come out swinging with EBM/synth-pop colored “Deaf Pursuit”, showing exactly what they are capable of together.
According to Vincent, “Not only is “Deaf Pursuit” the lead single but it’s also the song which sparked the writing process for the rest of the album. In terms of style and emotional intent, everything fell into place after “Deaf Pursuit”. The song came to us at a time we were both expelling a shared toxic energy present in our lives – one that lived in people we were close to. One of the most dominant themes on the album is renewal, so I felt it proper to begin the album’s course by quite literally stating ‘you’re dead to me.’ I feel as though I’m speaking to that which I’m moving on from in my life. You can’t get more to the point than that! Haha!”
Intense, synth-driven, and deeply emotive, this track sets the tone through the first half of the album. “Accidental Effigies” and “After the Storm” are just as catchy and tense with a sound reminiscent of early Ministry. Exposure Therapy climaxes in “The Eye That Follows Suit” and “Sentinel” which are the perfect blend of Wingtips’ new intensity and classic sounds. After these, the album slides into a cathartic relief and renewal of self on “Here and Now”, “Relativity”, and “Innocent Blood” which feature synths that are far more open and light than how the album raged into life. Perfectly closing on the words “Renewed again, this time for life”, fading synths, and eventually a moment of beautiful retrospective silence.
We have a lot more to say about Exposure Therapy and Wingtips’ previous work, and if you want to hear more, check out the extend full video review at the end of this article. In anticipation of Absolution Fest here in Tampa where we’re based, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Vincent and Hannah and talk about their process writing Exposure Therapy.
Hey Vincent and Hannah! Thanks for taking time with us. Congratulations on your debut album “Exposure Therapy”!
Thank you for having us!
The title of the album refers to a psychological technique where exposure to a source of extreme anxiety eventually numbs the patient to those emotions. You mentioned that the album is about your personal experiences of renewal and expelling toxicity. How does this tie in with Exposure Therapy?
HANNAH: This album captures a collection of our own personal experiences of love and loss of all kinds. Breaking off toxic relations from people are always bound to be difficult. With jagged edges and a pathway to uncertainty, the only way to continue on is to exercise the fear of feeling that specific pain again by placing yourself back in those situations.
There’s a wide range of very raw and powerful emotions individually encapsulated in the instrumental and lyrical composition of each song. You range from loss and uncertainty on Here and Now to cold anger on “Deaf Pursuit” to extreme calm on Innocent Blood. Given this range of emotion, have any of the songs been difficult to perform live?
VINCENT: Not particularly, at least not yet…
HANNAH: When we play shows there is always room and opportunity for certain emotions to come up that hadn’t before. But when we’re on stage, we feel very much in control of the ritual. Instead of the songs being portrayed as an episode of onstage catharsis, we strive to
work in tandem with the phantom feelings to present a product of personal growth. Wingtips has become such a collaborative process, in which we sometimes end up telling each other’s stories.
Generally speaking, when you begin to write a song, what elements tend to come first? Can you tell us a little bit about your process?
VINCENT: We tend to prioritize the music and song arrangement first, then we’ll add lyrics at the end. To us, the instrumentation gives the song it’s deepest groundings, emotionally & dynamically, and then the words reflectively fall into line. We’re also a very melodically-driven project by design and naturally, tend to gravitate towards expressing that range by way of our non-vocal instruments foremost. When I first started experimenting with the project solo,
most of the music that influenced me to do so was largely, if not entirely instrumental. So I got really well-rooted in that department, writing music that was self-sufficient as instrumental
tracks. For the longest time, I didn’t really know how to engage vocals within our music beyond simply being an atmospheric element.
The Eye That Follows Suit and Sentinel seem to be the dividing tracks on the album between the more aggressive and claustrophobic synth-driven songs of the first half and the airy openness of the second half. The album begins with a wall of sound and ends with silence. Even in your album promo art, your outfits set two disparate scenes. What inspired you to divide the album into such night and day halves?
VINCENT: I think the album’s track sequencing unintentionally best tells the story of our own experience. It speaks to the natural progression of our lives during the writing process; it starts out turbulent and winds up in a new space, renewed for the better from where it began. Our promotional art was another thing that subconsciously mirrored our overall intent, which we didn’t start truly discovering and analyzing until the end of the whole process. The idea for the cover art was finalized in the attraction of pushing the limits of texture through a sense of subtle discomfort.
Speaking of the stylistic shift, the more aggressive and forefronted synths were very different than what we were expecting based on your previous releases. We really got to hear your range and versatility. Deaf Pursuit even sounds like it could have could have come off the Stranger Things soundtrack. Can we expect more of this mixed style
VINCENT: We as artists are always trying to convey a slew of different ideas, and invoke different atmospheres based on the range of our emotional workings when we write. Because of this, I think a steady variation of style overall can always be expected.
You’re well known for putting out your singles as music videos, and they are always set in locations that live solidly in the memories of our youth: the roller rink of Wading, a house party in Last Minute, and most recently the dead mall in Deaf Pursuit. Why do you choose
these very grounded locations, even if what takes place in them is often so surreal?
HANNAH: We both love storytelling in all forms, and feel as though a solid location can be open to endless possibilities, perhaps telling a story on its own. Choosing the location of our videos has depended on what we aesthetically associate with the music and accessibility.
Though on certain occasions we’ve run into the “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” scenario, as most of our videos have been DIY projects with a couple close friends. Our music was once categorized for “post-millennial end times”, and I think that definitely extends through our past music video settings. We shot one location for Deaf Pursuit in Vincent’s home town mall the day before it closed down. So I’m sure it was somewhat surreal for him in more ways than ominously stalking a childhood friend while another films.
You’re no stranger to playing in Orlando, although this will be your first time performing in Tampa/Ybor City at Absolution Fest this October. Is there anything on your bucket list to do while you’re in town?
VINCENT: Well, coincidentally I am a Florida native. I was born near Orlando, and lived in a suburb of the city until I was 12 years old. My family recently relocated back to the area where I grew up, and I have visited often. During my visits, I thought I’d become acquainted with the local scene which is how Hannah & I have both met many nice people and made lots of great connections. Our graphic designer, Nick Mariano, is also an Orlando-native and was the first person I met in the area. As far as bucket list activities, Hannah & I are very thrilled to finally meet Chance the Snapper at his new home in St. Augustine, FL. He is an alligator who was found swimming in the lagoon at Humboldt Park in Chicago earlier this summer, released into
the waters by an unknown person. He caused quite a stir in the city, and became a local celebrity. A true Chicagoan in Florida!
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