Frustrated with a heightened focus solely on her guitarwork, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner distanced herself from six-strings in 2014. The result was Shriek, Wye Oak’s fourth album and their first sans-guitar. A divisive record among critics, it marked not only a creative rejuvenation for Wasner, but opened up the bi-coastal duo to a new sense of limitless possibilities.
Finding comfort in bass and synth, Shriek showcased both Wasner and bandmate Andy Stack’s natural instincts as multi-instrumentalists and producers. Simultaneously, Wasner was laying the groundwork for 2016’s If You See Me Say Yes, her first solo effort under the Flock of Dimes moniker. As FOD, Wasner continues to explore her left-of-center recording techniques and instrumentation.
Shedding the weight of expectation, Wasner seems to have activated new creative muscles, with both projects now producing their most fully realized work to date. We caught up with Wasner at home in North Carolina to talk gear, how effects inform her songwriting process, and the dreaded pedal malfunction during a live set.
Which pedal in your setup do you rely on the most?
Well, on one hand there’s one that’s just on all the time—that’s the Prelude reverb, which I’ve starting using in place of my built-in amp reverb. (For WO I play through a Fender Twin and for FOD I play a Vox AC15.)
But as far as one that I use more actively, that’s probably the good old DD-6. Just your basic digital delay pedal, but I know it so well at this point that I barely have to think about it. I do a lot of super present, timed compositional delays with this (meaning that the part was actually written around the delay being as loud as the original signal—so it would be half a part without it).
I’m also really loving my new Moog MF Drive distortion pedal. I used it a ton in-studio for a lot of the guitar solos on the new record. It’s got an EQ filter in addition to a basic tone knob, so the control over boosting/cutting specific frequencies is like nothing I’ve ever used before. It’s so incredible sounding and versatile.