Premiere: Welcome Center Debuts with the Luminous, Contemplative Single “Withoxt Yxu”

Welcome Center © 2017

Jesse Smith and Aaron Sternick have been on a long journey – a 12 year long journey, to be exact. They’ve dabbled in a plethora of music production experiences ranging from folk to french-house to electronic. Now they’ve joined together to create Welcome Center, a chillwave electronic project. Hailing from Dallas and Philadelphia, Smith and Sternick come together as friends, colleagues, and fellow artists to create raw, unfiltered music for themselves and others. Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the debut single for Welcome Center titled “Withoxt Yxu,” a drifting ballad filled with contemplation and light.

Floating by, paralyzed
Your good graces keep me in this light
Have I been drowning without you?
I am drowning without you
Listen: “Withoxt Yxu” – Welcome Center

Welcome Center utilizes water imagery to portray feelings of haziness and numbness; it’s unequivocally fitting to sound and overall atmosphere of the track. While listening, I found myself involuntarily letting the music wash over me and the vocals surround me like liquid. It’s similar to how people float along in life after certain traumatic moments such as a break-up or losing a job. “Withoxt Yxu” communicates these feelings of loss, numbness, and pain through a musical compilation that feels almost tactile; they weave differing sensory strings into a fluorescent blanket of melody.

Withoxt Yxu - Welcome Center

Withoxt Yxu – Welcome Center

And I know that you know
And you still let it go
Dissatisfied with or without you

Smith gives his thoughts on the story, “Lyrically, I wanted to write a definitive break-up track — something simple that captured the contradictory emotions that come along when a long relationship that needs to end finally ends. On one hand it’s devastating that someone you loved and trusted is gone, but on the other hand, when you’re being honest with yourself, you also know that you weren’t really satisfied being with that person either. ‘Withoxt Yxu’ is about holding those two contradictory emotions in each hand and allowing yourself to feel both of them and to be okay with that.”

If it’s any consolation for Smith, I believe Welcome Center achieved their goal. The pain of this song is hidden beneath whistling-symphonic sounds. The beauty of the harmony contradicts the aching emptiness of the lyrics – similar to the post-breakup experience Smith describes above. People may hide the dissatisfaction, frustration, and regret beneath a synthy-faux happy exterior. The emotive energy of the song echoes throughout, even if the listener may have to dig a bit for deeper meaning.

Amnesiac, erasing proof
It disappears, but it’s not removed
Have I been drowning without you?
I am drowning without you
Welcome Center © 2017

Welcome Center © 2017

With the words above, Welcome Center pokes at a modern day experience of breakups: erasing photos, deleting social media, and attempting to make the memories disappear without success. Even as the material objects leave the physical space, you can still feel the emotions. We live in a materialistic and documented world, but there’s still room for the abstract and philosophical.

In regards to the production of “Withoxt Yxu,” Jesse Smith explains, “Originally it was just my vocals, a synth-bass line and a simple drum machine beat. One week later, Sternick sent it back to me as this almost fully fleshed-out, beautiful lo-fi 80s synth-pop track. What started out as a cathartic release for me ended up turning into this charming, lo-fi track that re-ignited our musical partnership, which has spanned on and off for over 12 years now.”

Even though the vocals and bass-line began as the seed, the most catching moments of the song lie within the flourishing synths and wavy, fluorescent keyboard notes.

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:: purchase/stream “Withoxt Yxu” here ::

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Withoxt Yxu - Welcome Center

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Baylee is an aspiring music journalist who currently contributes to Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, and the I Love Memphis Blog. A native (and proud) Memphian, she spends most of her time waiting for the next Bonnaroo, quoting School of Rock, and late night ordering Domino's cheesy bread. Follow me on Twitter for comments on the juiciest releases, climate change, and general revelry.