So much to try, so little time: A conversation with Still Woozy
We all have our influences: people or ideas that we look towards for guidance and inspiration on where next to proceed with our lives. For Still Woozy, having influences has helped him discover where he wants to go with his career in music by allowing him to experiment with different aesthetics and ideas in an effort to find what is truly authentic to him
On August 18, 2021, KRNL had the incredible opportunity to attend a press conference hosted by º1824, an organization that aims to connect artists with fans and storytellers in order to promote content creation and collaboration, featuring Sven Gamsky - professionally known as Still Woozy - to talk about his debut album “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is.” KRNL was joined by a number of other publications across the country, which allowed for a great discussion with Gamsky where we got to learn more about his creative process while making the album, as well as his experiences so far in the music industry.
“If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is,” released on August 13, is the debut album of Portland-based alternative artist Still Woozy, who is relatively newer to the world of alt-pop music but has proved that he has something innovative and exciting to offer to today’s music scene, as shown in his rise in popularity since the release of his first single in 2017. Gamsky describes his music as “enveloping,” according to a press release, an effect that was inspired by a lot of the music he enjoys listening to the most.
“When you're walking with your headphones on, I want you to feel like the music is a part of everything, like the trees to your left and right," he says in the press release, provided by º1824. "That's the shit that I love.”
During the press conference, Gamsky said that his debut album represents a lot of his musical ambitions for the future, and considers it a stepping stone in the right direction towards everything else that he plans on doing with his music.
“I feel like [the album] represents the spectrum of the stuff that I want to pursue more… it’s like dipping your toes in,” said Gamsky. “There’s just so many things that I want to try, and there’s just not enough time.”
Gamsky said he used this album as an opportunity to explore a variety of different genres that he was interested in, such as rock-and-roll sounds and acoustics, as well as a mix of heavier and lighter-sounding tones.
“I don’t want to be put in a box,” he said. “There’s too many influences out in the world for me to just make one kind of music.”
Gamsky found most of his inspiration to start being more productive in the creation of his album during lockdown, as he found himself to be less distracted by touring and other things that were hindering his productivity.
“In the past, it’s taken me months and months to release songs, and during this quarantine, I was kind of forced to relook at why it’s taken me so long and to work through a lot of barriers,” Gamsky said. “Also, it gave me the time that I needed, because it’s so hard to be productive while on tour; it’s really exhausting, and you get home and you have like two days off and you just want to sleep and lay still… it’s not the best environment to be making music, so having no touring really lit the fire under my ass.”
The album is unique to Gamsky’s other work in that it was written in collaboration with Lars Stalfors, a producer, writer and mixer known for his work with St. Vincent, Lil Peep and The Neighbourhood, and who Gamsky described as the “drill sergeant” during the production of “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is.”
“My brain is not very organized, so it can be hard for me to get stuff done… [Stalfors] kept me on task and kept me organized, which is something I didn’t even know I needed,” said Gamsky. “That was the biggest difference [between this album and his past work], just having him… When you’re alone, you’re just in this fishbowl… It’s so important to process with people.”
In addition to his debut album, Gamsky also announced his return to live music with his upcoming tour of North America and Europe set to begin this fall. He expressed his excitement in performing live soon and being able to share and enjoy his music with his fans in person, something that he had been looking forward to for a long time.
“These songs that were hatched away from everyone, by myself, I’m looking forward to bringing them to people to see how they react to it. I’m curious to see the songs and the moments in the songs that people respond to the most, because you write it and people interpret it in these other ways, so when you see it live you can see that in some moments, for some reason, people have responded. I’m excited to see that.”
Ultimately, Still Woozy’s goal is to create music that feels true to himself and his life experiences.
“Everything has to pass a litmus test of feeling like it’s a representation of myself,” Gamsky said. “Like if you’re getting dressed and you put on an outfit, and you’re like, ‘This isn’t me,’ that’s your own litmus test for assessing who you are; it’s kind of the same with music. It has to pass a litmus test of whether it resonates with me.”
Gamsky has focused on mental health as a theme throughout his career with music, drawing from his own experiences both in and out of quarantine to gain inspiration for his work. Stress, trauma and his “rapidly-deteriorating mental health,” as he puts it, allowed Gamsky to “look more inward than outward” as a means of drawing influence for what to write about, allowing him to change gears and write more - and discover more - about himself.
“Some of the best lyrics are the most honest, and they’re not trying to be super eloquent or verbose; it’s just straight to the point, and I feel like that’s what [Stalfors and I] hoped to have done with the stuff that’s out there now on the album,” said Gamsky.
Giving his thoughts a voice through his music, Still Woozy channels every possible side to himself in “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is” and ventures into a new era in his musical career. Every song explores a new genre or idea, allowing the artist to discover where it is he wants his path to take him. We at KRNL are excited to see what Still Woozy is able to accomplish in the future as he grows into his full potential as an artist.
Q&A Speed Round
KRNL and the other publications were given the opportunity to ask a variety of great questions, so this section of the story is where we list some of the interesting responses we got to hear from Still Woozy! Special thanks to º1824 for having us and to the number of other publications in attendance who provided some excellent questions.
Q: What is your favorite song on the album?
SW: I go back and forth because I have three of them; I think “These Days” is one of my favorite songs on the album. I remember writing it, and I wrote the guitar part and played it on repeat just listening to it, and I think I was stressed out or upset, and it just helped me out so much just to relax. Just writing it and recording it and playing it back, it’s like my own therapy, kind of.
Q: Who inspired you to start making music?
SW: I’ve been making music since I was 11 or 12; the people that inspired me back then were probably… I listened to Jack Johnson… Sublime, John Mayer… I think what inspired the Still Woozy project was probably more like D’Angelo and Steve Lacy. A little bit different.
Q: Do you have a staple wardrobe piece/good-luck charm that you bring on stage with you?
SW: No, but I usually try to wear something purple; at least every second or third show will have some purple shirt or purple pants or something… it feels important for me.
Q: If you could write a song that an artist has already written, which song would it be?
SW: There’s too many… I mean, “Slide” by Calvin Harris; I just think it’s really funky and good. Maybe “How Does It Feel” by D’Angelo, but I wouldn’t wanna write that ‘cause I could never have written that… it’s just that the energy is so on-point and just amazing. Just so original.
Q: What is your dream city/venue to perform in?
SW: I mean Red Rocks (Morrison, Colorado) would be so cool. I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen- I’ve heard every artist who goes through there says it’s like one of their favorite places to play. Red Rocks would definitely be a dream venue.
Q: What is your advice to new artists who are struggling with finding their own sound?
SW: I feel like what I am, more than anything, is a curator of sounds I like. I think just getting in-tune with what makes you feel good instead of maybe trying to copy other people. Focus more on yourself than on trying to replicate the top hits or whatever. Also, just work hard, you know? And take feedback, ‘cause a lot of people just have people that are around them that are just like “Oh, yeah, it’s good, it’s good,” and nobody really wants to be honest. The whole time, I’ve always wanted to know how people felt around me, so I would always play it for people and want to hear the bad stuff too.