“A sense of mystery and majesty.” –No Depression
From the front-lines at Standing Rock to the archaic streets of Jerusalem, the Sahel Desert to Carnegie Hall, music has been the source of strength for Billy Wylder. The band features Avi Salloway (Bombino/Hey Mama/Avi & Celia) joined by an inspired cast of singular artists who have performed across five continents including concerts at Coachella, Newport Folk Festival, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center.
The music weaves together American folk and rock with sensibilities from the Sahara Desert, exploring new musical space akin to Devendra Banhart, Beck, and Tinariwen. The tracks evoke musical evolutions built on grooves informed by ancient African rhythms, art-rock textures, expansive guitars, violins, synths, and drum machines. Salloway’s lyrics flow with inspiration from mythical songwriting hero Leonard Cohen, while threading together more abstract imagery reminiscent of Thom Yorke.
The past several years have brought us face to face with dangers of a political, spiritual, and even existential nature. The Coronavirus reminds us that we are all inextricably connected and we have the power to pass on both life and death, love and hatred. The band’s latest EP, Whatcha Looking For, calls attention to where our attention lies, looking at what stories, perspectives, histories, and media we choose and do not choose to inform our consciousness and direction. Billy Wylder calls us back to the practice of our creativity as a primary means of connecting our shared humanity, and providing a way for us to envision a future we want to live in together. Whatcha Looking For embodies fierce courage and asks the listener the question directly while offering a sense of hope and possibility.
On the new recording, Billy Wylder grapples with some of the most critical questions of our time. What is freedom? Has the American dream died? What is truth and what is truly important to us? Are we closer to the source of our problems than we realize? What are we looking for? The band knows that it takes courage to follow your dreams, to create your own sense of purpose and meaning while living in a society where the media and politics relentlessly project fear, hatred, division, and consumerism. Adventurous arrangements take the listener on an experiential journey, while Salloway’s earnest and soulful baritone draws you into the storylines.
The band is named after Salloway’s grandmother, Wilma “Billie” Hotaling.” She was a prolific painter, author, musician, and educator. Billie wrote Count the Stars Through the Cracks, a harrowing historical fiction novel about a young brother and sister’s escape from the Antebellum South along the Underground Railroad. Billie’s writing was raw and fearless and her book delivered a powerful narrative about America’s hard truths and the long journey to freedom. “My grandma Billie led by example, showing me what creativity looks like and how critical art can be as a form of love and resistance. She is part of me and part of the Wylder family,” Salloway reflects. .
“Songs that sound impossibly up-to-minute while remaining steeped in tradition.” –PopMatters