Written and photographed by Kat Kuo
If blue was a sound, it would sound like New York-based musician Warren Wolfe. Radiantly soothing, Wolfe’s music brings his listeners along with him on the quest for his own grounding self-discovery. His recent single “Namesake” is a beam of light through the gloom, a clear hallmark in a new era of melancholic sound. After years of making music with his friends and fellow musicians, including a rap/hip-hop collaboration with Orrin on “Rip Q”, Warren has come into his own as a producer, complete with his uniquely wholesome aesthetic.
Even when dealing with autobiographical topics, Warren’s music is uncompromising in its scope—as he put it, everyone needs a little emotional comfort. We had a chance to sit down with the musician and get to know a little bit more about his burgeoning career.
DRØME: Where did you grow up and what brought you to New York?
Warren Wolfe: I grew up in the suburbs in Pennsylvania, but always had this romanticized image of New York from going to Broadway shows with my mom. I ended up choosing to go to school here because I didn't see myself fitting in anywhere else.
D: Was there a group of people in New York that you were bonding with creatively that made you stay in New York?
WW: Definitely, I was really lucky to meet the people that I met at the beginning of college because they all inspired me to start making my own music. I depend on them as friends and collaborators, so yeah they are a huge reason why I decided to stay here after school.
D: When you first started music, you were classically trained. How did your training help you transition into the music that you’re producing right now?
WW: Without me even realizing it at the time, my entire childhood and teenage life of studying classical piano and voice gave me a foundation to express myself as an artist today. More importantly, I think learning the piano and the classical repertoire that I engaged with as a kid has helped me to approach music with a lot of sincerity and respect for the art of composing a track and arranging all elements of a song.
D: What other kinds of music you’ve experimented with?
WW: I definitely am trying to make as many different kinds of music as possible. Some of the first things I began producing were beats for my friend Orrin. I love bringing my own unique musical background to the table when I'm working with him on our material. I also had a phase of making mostly ambient music back in 2015 when I was in London and unable to record. I definitely see myself moving more towards the realm of composing, working with strings and choirs in the future.
D: Can you tell me where ‘Namesake’ came from? Was it a therapeutic process or more of a method to deal with personal upheaval for you?
WW: I wrote Namesake after the loss of my grandfather. The process of making the song was really challenging because I not only wanted to use the music as a means to cope, but also to reflect on his life and express how influential he was to me. In some sense he was the musical heartbeat of our family, and a massive reason why my mom got into singing, and therefore myself.
D: What would you say is the running theme throughout your music?
WW: A lot of my early music has been extremely autobiographical. I am still trying to develop as a songwriter and constantly grapple with what I have to say as an individual. I think identity has become a recurring theme in the newer material I've been working on—I am always considering the impact of what I say when classifying myself while also trying to provoke listeners on an emotional level.
D: What are you up to now?
WW: At the moment I am in New York, working in order to stay here and continue to be inspired by the people and the surroundings. I am beginning to finalize a collection of songs for a project, and will be performing as much as I can in the fall.
In the making of DRØME we hope to showcase a community of doers and nourish an attitude of empathy in a world that teaches us to pass judgment rather than practice kindness. The stories, images, and people shared in this magazine are an amalgamation of perspectives often overlooked or explicitly excluded from art and media worlds. The dearth of diverse identities and viewpoints within the arts is harrowing, especially for a young generation that is fighting its hardest to overcome conservative notions of order ultimately practiced as acts of discrimination against the very people and things we find most inspiring. In DRØME, the featured creators and creations encourage us to never shy away from who we are and what we want. Each artist, in sharing their story, embodies their own definition of agency. Against a mainstream ideology that indoctrinates patriarchal, capitalist, and hateful theories turned into policy, the artists in our first issue represent the ways in which art can take power back from society's denigrating control.