Goth Boi Clique founder Adam McIlwee's one-man project Wicca Phase Springs Eternal defies easy classification. Is it rap? R&B? Emo? Goth? Darkwave? Regardless of what box — if any — you decide to put Wicca in, what cannot be denied is the genuine feeling of the project's output. Dark, depressed, desolate, yet instilled with a quiet, windswept spirit of perseverance. McIlwee's journey continues with Wicca's forthcoming second full-length, Suffer On, due February 15th (check out the LP's lead single "Just One Thing"), which he'll support on the road with Angel Du$t on a headlining tour that kicks off later that same month (see dates here).
Ahead of all that, we asked McIlwee to participate in our "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, in which artists share some of the music that has helped them through dark times. Below is what he offered up.
I think most of the emotionally charged music I listen to is driven by heartbreak and relationship issues, but the emotion in this song comes from a domestic, mundane depression that I don't hear many artists write about. When Wilson opens the song singing about feeling tired, hungry and restless, I feel like I'm listening to a more relatable depiction of depression. What's also different about this song is that Wilson provides an answer to depression — meditation, hypnosis, religion — and while those might not necessarily work for everyone, it's a relief to hear someone come to terms with their emotional restlessness and suggest possible ways out.
I first heard this song around the time I started writing music, and I remember being hung up on trying to write chord progressions that reflected the kind of lyrics I wanted to write. "Disintegration" was one of the first songs that helped me understand that emotion alone can carry a song, and this song still sounds like pure emotion to me. Smith is bellowing here, and for the first time I felt like I was hearing an honest depiction of depression. I don't know how healthy it is to treat emotional heaviness with more emotional heaviness, but this is still a song I play when feeling that heaviness, and for eight minutes I'm able to listen to a reflection of what I'm feeling that I'm not able to convey myself.
There's times when it feels like that emotional weight exists entirely inside until the effects start to become reflected in relationships and day-to-day activities. I always heard "Troublesome Houses" as a song about the consequences of our actions, and I use this song as a cautionary tale that encourages dealing with depression in a positive way before it dissolves meaningful relationships. There's something about the harmonies in this song that hit me particularly hard, but like depression and hopelessness, that feeling is also indescribable and powerful in a frustrating, undefined way.
I remember døves sending me beats a few years ago and immediately trying to find more of his music, because each instrumental captured emotion — heartbreak, depression, frustration — in such a concentrated and concise way. "woke" was one of the first songs I found that had døves' vocals on it, and I felt like I was hearing the exact music I was trying to make. It's so focused, and over two short verses he is able to paint a picture of depression and an attempt to escape it that hit so close to me that I felt like it was actually coming from me. I think there's something really powerful about being able to successfully balance such heavy, draining lyrics over a major chord progression, but when it's done right — as it is in this song — it can portray depression in a less heavy-handed light that I haven't heard many other artists pull off.
In high school, I would burn CDs from my friend's brother's computer, trying to find music that spoke to that confusing, nameless depression that I was feeling as a teenager. While Bright Eyes was one of the first artists I heard that was able to capture the unsettling qualities of depression, Jamie Stewart conveyed the entire spectrum of what I was feeling in his vocal delivery. His anxious, unsteady vocal delivery was real and honest, and I felt that I had finally found an artist that was consistently existing in the indescribable headspace in which I found myself around the time I heard this song.
Every day in America, 121 people die by suicide. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of resources.