wilter’s Will Durkee dives inside his achingly intimate and ethereal debut EP ‘all this leaving,’ a fragile, tender, and stunningly vulnerable indie folk reckoning dwelling in the haunting depths of depression.
for fans of Bon Iver, elkyn, McCall, Phoebe Bridgers
“not looking out the window anymore” – wilter
Breaking glass while in bare feet I’m terrified of all this leaving…
Achingly intimate and ethereal, wilter’s debut EP is a stunning coming-of-age reckoning dwelling in the haunting depths of depression.
A fragile, tender record born of emotional turbulence and inner turmoil, all this leaving dives headfirst into the darkness, exploring themes of grief, loss, change, and growth a the artist searches for purpose and his place in this often isolating, unforgiving world.
And I’m not looking out the window anymore
You drove me to the ER
Cause I had trouble breathing in the morning
And we spent our last night up above the clouds
The fireplace was too hot
We couldn’t find a way to put it out
On the way down
The car was swallowed by the fog
Your hands white gripping the steering wheel
But you wouldn’t pull off
All the buildings getting closer
I never liked sunday mornings
All the buildings getting taller
In these walls I’m feeling smaller
– “not looking out the window anymore,” wilter
From mourning innocence lost to struggling with happiness in the moment, all this leaving is a stirring, all-consuming experience. Organic acoustic and electronic instrumentation melt into one as LA-based songwriter and producer Will Durkee, the mastermind behind wilter, paints wondrous tapestries that feel at once vast, yet deeply insular. Calling to mind the likes of Irish artist EDEN and Toronto’s Mappe Of, wilter’s art is a beautiful, singular entity unto itself: Delicate and disruptive, his songs are invariably melancholy, wistful, poetic, and deeply introspective.
“I think it’s a common trope for musicians to feel like certain lines, melodies, and songs drop into their lap out of the ether and treat it as if it’s just luck or a random event,” Will Durkee tells Atwood Magazine. “I certainly feel like this much more often than I feel like I am some creative vessel connecting to a spiritual force and my deepest unconscious desires and hopes. So I think this analytical jadedness made me ignore what this EP meant to me as a coherent project and see it solely as a collection of the best songs I had written and produced up to that point in my life. Not until I released ‘all this leaving’ and took a trip out to Joshua Tree the following weekend (to see Big Thief under a lunar eclipse) did I finally start to connect some of the dots on what might have been behind some of the creative decisions I made.”
“Every song on all this leaving was written in and plotted the depths of the worst period of depression and realignment in my life,” he adds. “Each song was a milestone and a marker on the spectrum of different feelings and ways I was coping. The idea that this EP mapped my descent and ascent out of a period of depression seems so obvious now but while it was being made I was drowning too deep to recognize it. Each song was a message in a bottle sent to my later self. Maybe they were calls for help. Maybe it was just pure catharsis. But now I’m on the beach picking them up and uncorking what they truly represent, kind of in awe of it all.”
“I’m really proud how the songs on this project are all very different from each other yet still all come together coherently on this project. ‘solo/solong’ is synth based, haven’t been is based around crazy chopped up vocal samples, coming home is a super traditional and mostly minimal folk song… but in context it still all works. I feel like my whole mantra as a producer is to push songwriter music as far as I can take it and I’m proud of my first effort.”
Perspective plays a large role in wilter’s music, starting with the EP’s title itself.
“I read once that depression is a mindset off loss,” Durkee says. “When you graduate from school it’s not about looking forward to the endless possibilities; it’s a funeral for the way things were and how they might never be as good or the same again. So ‘all this leaving’ is a phrase pulled from a lyric of ‘not looking out the window anymore’ that represents everything (or myself) in a state of perpetual leaving.”
Solo haven’t been in so long
Ceilings that I don’t know
Should’ve called your home phone months ago
Solo can you leave the door closed
Always time to go
Haven’t been in so long, it’s so long
Window seat, row 25
Done this trip so many times
It feels different, it feels different, it feels different
Feels so surreal
And I’m hoping, I’m hoping, this plane never lands
And it’s never real
– “solo/solong,” wilter
That state of perpetual leaving begins with the EP’s atmospheric opener, “solo/solong,” a captivating immersion of moody contemplation that marries the tranquilizing with the unsettling. wilter explores the emotional roller-coaster of grief we experience following a big loss – ride that often runs from pure numbness to utter radiance. “Even though you are sad, it’s hard not to feel really alive,” Durkee explains. “It’s beautiful, uncomfortable yet comforting at the same time, and in some ways kind of addicting. Sometimes it feels good to be really sad.”
It is with this mindset that all this leaving opens up further, with the aching confessional “haven’t been” proving a particularly intimate invitation to slip away: To leave this world behind and sink into ourselves, letting go into a pool of ambient emotion and an endless void of relaxed existence. wilter beckons his audience to draw intimately close as he spills his soul out in sound in moving lyrics and equally affecting sound:
Sunrise it shines right into my eyes through your window
You had me hanging off of every last one of your words
Timeless the numbers don’t mean a thing anymore
Starlight it falls over our foreheads into the dirt
Isn’t it too nice, isn’t it too nice
For the both of us
I’ve tried, I’ve tried and I’ve tried again I’ve tried to grow up
I’d dive away from my thoughts and right back into your touch
Long drives don’t feel the need to fill up silence anymore
Twilight will everything seem different alone at dusk
For all his unavoidable melancholy, wilter’s music is an undeniable beacon of cathartic light.
It’s hard not to fall for songs like the lilting, beautifully tender “floating-testing” (which explores “the void in depression – lonely listless doldrums”) and the tempered, visceral “not looking out the window anymore,” both of which shine with a cloudy, hazy, yet nevertheless stirring radiance. By the time the gentle “coming home” brings our feet back down to the ground, all we want to do is dive back into wilter’s world once more. Music born of such deep depression is hardly easy, but there’s a warm weight and catharsis to these songs that help wilter stand out from his peers in the contemporary alternative and indie folk worlds.
Floating now, trash in the waves
Bags in your hands, bags on my face
I’d go if you go
In LA now, seasons still change
Can’t feel my hands, the blood’s all in my face
Thinking less and less, probably for the best
Testing now, float me out
Testing now, just tell me… you see the shore
Spilling truths I’m spilling over wine
Take these thoughts I’m falling over mine
Always trouble on the other side
Calm my fears they’re gonna kill my high
Hold me down I’ve gone, hold me down I’ve gone
Hold me down I’m going over and over and over
– “floating-testing,” wilter
As for his own favorites, Durkee is quick to name “haven’t been” as a personal highlight. “I’ll always love ‘haven’t been’ for being the first song I produced that felt like a real artistic statement,” he says. “It was a musical epiphany that convinced me I could be an artist if I set myself to it. It will always have a special place in my heart because of it. To me, “haven’t been” is its own world, and I want listeners to be able to interact with it and transpose it onto their own world.”
Durkee doesn’t consider himself a lyrically forward artist; in fact, he jokingly calls himself a “lyrics last” artist, but he admits to feeling good about the lyrics on these songs. “There are a few lyrics that I love that bring me to such a visceral space and feeling,” he smiles. “In ‘solo,’ I really love “ceilings that I don’t know.” In ‘floating,’ “I’d go if you go” is just so, so raw. In ‘not looking out the window anymore,’ it’s the pre-outro lines about “all the buildings getting closer.. all the buildings getting taller.” I love the rising tension those lines create as the outro approaches.”
Each song was a message in a bottle sent to my later self. Maybe they were calls for help. Maybe it was just pure catharsis. But now I’m on the beach picking them up and uncorking what they truly represent, kind of in awe of it all.
wilter considers himself an artist that lives in the in-betweens: “In between places, conversations, relationships, thoughts, dreams. The moments that leave an imprint on our lives whether we decide to pay attention or not.” all this leaving unapologetically exists in this ether and at this inflection point, dwelling in a deeply vulnerable and raw space of fragility, grief, and depression.
At the expense of sounding cliché, this music truly hurts in the best ways. In channeling his own depression into art, wilter provides a heartwarming vessel for his audience to feel seen, heard, and understood. It’s deeply comforting to know we’re not alone in our experience, and all this leaving is an ever-present reminder that what we are going through is not ours alone to bear; that it is human, that it is natural, and that we will be okay.
“It has been super fulfilling to create this melancholic, eerie, yet soothing world with the wilter project, and I hope that people connect with these songs in their own ways,” Durkee shares. “Mostly I have just been reassured of why I do this and how important it is for me to create. I can’t wait to make more and make better.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside wilter’s all this leaving EP with Atwood Magazine as Will Durkee goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his debut EP!
Stream: ‘all this leaving’ – wilter
:: Inside all this leaving ::
This song is about grief and specifically the melancholic few days after a big loss in your life. You might be laughing one second and crying a few moments later. Even though you are sad it’s hard not to feel really alive. It’s beautiful, uncomfortable yet comforting at the same time, and in some ways kind of addicting. Sometimes it feels good to be really sad.
This one is about holding on and not being able to enjoy the present when things are good or seem like they are at their best. It’s grasping to those good moments a little too hard. It’s hard to be your full present self when you always feel like things will go downhill at every corner.
The void in depression. The lonely listless doldrums of depression. Feeling like you have no power over the currents that move you around. Grasping on to anything within arms reach to help you for the moment.
not looking out the window anymore
When everything comes crashing down at once. Where the title ‘all this leaving’ comes from. The steep cliff into a depressive episode.
The opposite of leaving (not an intentional title pun on the EP name lol). Bob Dylan always described songwriting as “finding his way back home.” This song is me doing that and grounding myself.
— — — —
📸 © 2022
:: Stream wilter ::