Interview with Wynton Existing
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I am the youngest child of 2 older siblings who at a certain age both got piano lessons. When it came to my turn, my parents separated and I never got lessons but had always wanted to, and would play a few notes when nobody else was around.
My musical exposure as a child varied between boy bands and 90s radio. It wasn't until I discovered a Linkin Park CD in my sisters room that I realized music can express negative emotions, and it was very powerful to me, as was discovering Nirvana shortly after that made me feel like 'hey I can do this too!' I can let out my negative emotions in a healthy and positive way. My mother gifted me a fender squire on my 14th birthday, and here we are.
If I wasn't a musician I would definitely be some type of artist, most likely a painter or graphic designer, I used to make comic books in middle school and sell them as a side hustle. I've also always been heavily drawn towards acting.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I try to travel as much as I can, it is my favorite thing to do. Being out in nature, going on hikes, going to the gym, cooking meals for friends, meeting new people, socializing, networking, etc. And when I need to unwind, I will absolutely indulge in the occasional video game, which I find can be an enriching and unique experience on its own (depending what you're playing!).
I want to try just about everything once, and I gain a lot of musical inspiration from general life experiences. If I ever have trouble finishing a song, to me, it means I just haven't lived it yet. The longest time it's taken me to finish writing a song was 14 years, which was a song I just finished the month prior.
How long has music been your career?
I’ve been playing out since I was 16. As far as it being a career, I founded a band in 2012 that did very well on the east coast, by 2017 we were touring frequently and we hardly had time to work side jobs. Before Covid 19, I worked as a Banquet Server for 15 hours a week, the rest of my income was money made off of shows. Once Covid 19 hit, I parted ways with that band, moved from Pennsylvania to Tennessee a year ago, and started over the whole musical process for my new project, Wynton Existing.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I'm based out of Lancaster, PA, Amish paradise! I feel it's worth mentioning that I'm half Indian and half Mennonite. I grew up going to a Mennonite church, and they were surprisingly open minded and didn't have a problem with me questioning the legitimacy of the bible and if God is even real. I always deeply respected them for that. Having a safe space for questioning everything I think paved the way for a lot of my songwriting.
Being half Indian and having been in India a number of times, that played a big role on my musical stylings and I got sitar lessons to expand my musical horizons.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Ooooooh, both are tough to sum up. The best shows are the many east coast festivals I have played, I have to give a shoutout to Beardfest (NJ) and Peace of Mind (PA), which were some of the most enriching and powerful show experiences I have ever had. Also worth mentioning was opening for Godsmack at Musikfest in Bethlehem PA, which was one of the first times a band I was in had our own rider, as well as my first stadium gig.
For the most part, every performance of mine I am stone cold sober. I want to give it my best and be present in the moment. But, it wasn't always like that. The WORST show was at this DIY venue in Lancaster called WLAN that had all sorts of crazy parties. I've had some great shows there too, but there was one show in particular where I drank a lot before our set, smoked a joint, and got generally pretty inebriated. I had a really bad cotton mouth when I hit the stage, all I had to drink was beer, which did not help. During the first song of the set, someone kicked my beer over and I was standing in a beer puddle, while being heavily shocked by the microphone every time I sang, while trying to keep balance because of how drunk I was. It was just not a good time. Doing drugs and drinking before my set made my set not a good time. Getting on stage should be one of the greatest feelings in the world for an artist, and all the inebriation prevented that, so I prefer being sober while I express myself.
Another worthy mention was this strange neighborhood in Brunswick, GA. I believe the venue was called HBGB. It was rough, there was absolutely nobody there, and anybody we did see in the neighborhood looked ready to rob us or do some harm. There was a guy outside trying to rummage through our van and we had to keep our eye on him through the window while we played. The only solace we had was a puppy that ran into the venue, I held the puppy and smiled, the owner of the venue came up to me and told me that the puppy was from a house 2 blocks down where a family was recently stabbed to death. Safe to say, the vibes were not there, bro.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Harrisburg PA has two fantastic Venues I always love performing at, Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center and XL Live. HMAC is personable, friendly, loves the owner and the stages ooze with history. I always have a great time at HMAC. XL Live is a fantastic production and incredible hospitality. They really make you feel like a famous musician.
Red Rocks is a pretty cliché bucket list venue, but I'm going to go with Red Rocks. And maybe just a little more realistic, I will go with Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Queens of the Stone Age & Osees.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Go to shows! Make friends! Support your homies. Go out and seek your inspiration, and when the time comes to start playing out, don't expect people to come to shows if you never show up for theirs. Don't worry what people are going to think, you are up there to shine.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
If someone in your project isn't going to help push the ball, then they're only slowing you down. Don't share the stage with people who are threatened by your confident expression and do not let them damper your shine, you have everything you need within yourself.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Right now I would have to go with my 15 minute epic called 'The Trial'. I wrote it with the help of my drummer, Gavin Gates. It's about the lowest period of my life, reflecting on it, and learning to accept it and trying my best to come out on top. It reminds me of Achilles Last Stand by Led Zeppelin. To me, that song sounds like perseverance despite all odds, which is what The Trial means to me. I was born to live through it. We are planning to record The Trial and put it on the next album.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Right now my favorite song to play live is Tom Tom Song, which has a crazy noise middle section where the drummer and I have a drum off while I beat on my Floor tom like a caveman, crazy psychedelic noises droning in the background, it's a great show ender and probably our most requested song. That will be on the upcoming release.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
The songwriting process is very inconsistent and varies a lot, which is how I like it. Sometimes it's me coming up with a song and telling the band exactly what I want, sometimes I'll let the band dissect the song and Frankenstein it into a new beast, sometimes it's a jam we have that we craft into a song, sometimes I'll sit down and collaborate a concept with my drummer, he even helps write some lyrics.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I like to let people know that, good thoughts, bad thoughts, horrible thoughts, obscure thoughts, scary thoughts, you are not alone in thinking them. I've always felt like an alien; an outsider looking in, and I think a lot of people feel that way. I just like to remind people you are not alone. A lot of the music I grew up listening to made me feel heard and understood, without me having to say a word. I like to pass that message along.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
In Wynton Existing, I have the final say and I think it's best somebody does. In my previous band, trying to find a compromise would take weeks of time to find a solution that satisfied all, and there were times we missed crucial opportunities because of that.
With that said, it is very important to me that every band member I work with feels validated and heard, so if someone disagrees, I will do whatever I can to actively find a compromise that satisfies all. Sometimes it can lead down a much more cool route than initially planned. At the end of the day, we are all servants for the song and need to do what's best for it. It's not about me, it's not about giving the drummer enough fills so he's not bored, it's not about adding a sitar and putting it in reverse, it's about doing what's best for the song.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are releasing an album titled 'Sexual Death' early into the new year, we're getting ready to order vinyl now and have our first single 'Juicy Prevalence' coming out October 7th. We hope to hit the road on tour Spring 2023.