serpentwithfeet is an avant-garde vocalist and performance artist whose growing body of work is rooted in dueling obsessions with the ephemeral and the everlasting - key components of his artistic journey from a childhood stint as a choirboy in Baltimore through his time at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance before relocating to New York City. His forthcoming debut full-length album soil is a return to the sensibilities and wide-eyed curiosity of his musical youth before symmetry and sterile soundscapes ruled the roost. With the release of soil the chameleonic serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise) rediscovers and ultimately returns to the unhinged version of himself he was sure he had outgrown.
With this album I gave myself permission to let the leaves grow, let the flowers bloom, let myself be hairy and let my sound be hairy. I'm excited about the way things naturally come out of my body. I am always going to embrace discipline and streamlining. But I’m in a space at the moment where I don't need or desire the corset. It's time for expansiveness.
blisters is the critically acclaimed debut EP by serpentwithfeet, and his first release on Tri Angle Records. Given that he credits both Brandy and Bjork as inspirations, it's not surprising that serpentwithfeet treads a fine line between emotive gospel and more left-of-centre stylings. With his own gloriously outrÃ© personal style and penchant for the dramatic, it also makes sense that the music Wise makes would be so remarkably unclassifiable. "It feels very free because I also feel very free," he says. Making music has always been about making a space for myself in the world. My theory has always been that if you walk into a room and say, 'This is my room'—it’s your room. The End."Tracks like 'penance' and 'redemption' vacillate between hushed intimacy and huge emotional swells. On the EP's title track, Wise's multi-tracked voice plays against gently-plucked harp and syncopated handclaps, the record’s gospel affectations and slinky R&B tropes fusing into something unique, exotic, and strangely beautiful. Meanwhile, surrounded by strings, subtle electronics and Wise's restrained piano playing the EP's first single, 'flickering,' is the perfect showcase for Wise's powerhouse voice. "I'm starting to feel the cord connecting us two is made of gossamer," he sings. "I'm starting to feel there's no cord between us two / are we made of gossamer?" The track unspools with a kind of hushed intimacy, the tone and tenor of Wise's voice rising and falling like a breath until the song itself crests and flutters before disappearing completely.