The TV-watching world (you know who you are) is already familiar with Wild Child, a quirky folk-pop band out of Austin. Last year, they supplied a song for a Purina Cat Chow commercial (the one that goes "You know you mean the world to me ..."). So in a manner of speaking, Wild Child is the Stopover band that's been heard by the most people.
This really tickles singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson, whose voice is prominent on the cutesy kitty-food spot. “It funded most of our album,” she chuckles.
“We don’t ever play it live, but we might have to ‘cause it’s unfortunately now our second best seller. We might have to buckle down and actually do it. Just suck it up.”
Serendipity has played a large part in this band’s evolution. Wilson, a classical and bluegrass violinist who’d never written a song or sung a note in public, met ukulele player Alexander Beggins when they were both hired for the same sideman gig in a touring group.
“When I met Alex, we came to find out that I can do what he can’t do, and he can do what I can’t do,” says Wilson. “So we were able to actually create something.”
Left brain, meet right brain.
They wrote a bunch of songs together, and recorded an acoustic album, Pillow Talk.
Live shows, at first, were difficult propositions. “Just now it’s getting to the point where we’ll break off and sing alone,” she says. “I have to sing alone a lot of the times now. But it’s OK because we can just look at each other, drink some whiskey and push out my fears of people staring at us.”
“That was another thing we really helped each other with, ‘cause if we were both singing at the same time, it was only half as scary.”
Adding more instruments made it easier. Wild Child now includes bass and drums, keyboard, and cello.
“We knew wanted it to be quite a bit bigger,” explains Wilson. “When we first started writing, we were just writing songs for a ukulele, a violin and two vocals. But the songs just kept getting bigger as we wrote them.
“Once we started touring together, playing bigger and bigger shows, and rowdy shows in loud, disgusting bars for really drunk college kids, you can’t play twee, beautiful ukulele string music in a bar.
“So we just started making them louder and louder, faster and faster. Just started plugging in and turning everything up a little bit more. And the songs got bigger, and by the time we were writing for the second album, we had all of that in mind.”
Reaction to The Runaround, the second album, was swift and glowing. The Austin Chronicle named Wild Child the Best indie band AND the Best Folk Band of the 2013 SXSW conference.
The uber-competitive Austin music scene, explains Wilson, probably made Wild Child try harder. “We’re ridiculously lucky, because everyone here is in a good band,” she says. “And most of them are better than whatever band you’re in. You can go to any coffee shop, any day of the week, and see the most incredible musicians you’ve ever seen in your life. And then feel terrible about yourself!
“But then, it’s the most motivating thing in the world. It’s like, ‘We gotta practice. A dude is playing for tips at King Fu Coffee, and he’s better than all of us put together.’”
The band’s organic, pop-infused string band music is catchy and instantly likeable. This is a band you want to bring home and introduce to someone you love.
Just don’t call it sweet. “I don’t want to make sweet music any more,” Wilson says. “I mean, we still want the sweet songs, because we love playing them, and they come so easy to us. But I want to be able to actually grab someone’s attention and be loud.”’
Wild Child plays at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 8 in the Moon River Beer Garden.