If 60s baroque pop is your thing, but you want to hear something fresh and new from that genre, look no further than Cherry Parke, a music project by New Jersey based musician and artist Will Wiggins. On Groundhog Day, which was earlier this month, he released his debut single, “Captain Bullseye” b/w “All Around The Moon”, recorded with Kevin Basko of Foxygen and Rubber Band Gun. Two of Will Wiggins’ inspirations are ELO and Van Dyke Parks. You can stream the single below on Spotify.
We’re lucky to have Will on the blog for an interview, so if you want to learn more about him and his music, keep on reading.
Angie: Why the name Cherry Parke?
Will: I live in New Jersey near a place called Cherry Hill. I saw “Cherry Parke” on a sign for a condo development. I liked the sound of it, and I liked how it was spelled with an “E” at the end. It gave it kind of an “old-timey” flavour which related to some of my lyrics.
Angie: How did you get started playing music?
Will: I’ve been playing music since grade school with my brother, Andy. He is a songwriter/guitarist and I am primarily a drummer. So, I’ve been playing drums for 15+ years. However, Cherry Parke is my first attempt at writing my own original songs and playing keys. I took some piano lessons as a kid so I had a little bit of a foundation.
Angie: I saw on your Instagram that you mentioned you’re a lifelong drummer who writes their songs at the keyboard, how was the transition between the two instruments?
Will: It’s very different! I took piano lessons as a kid, so I had a little bit of a basic foundation. I started out hearing parts in my head and then trying to play them out at the keyboard. I’ve gotten more confident playing, but I’m still learning!
Angie: How did you get into classic rock?
Will: I think I can credit my dad with getting me into 1960s music. He turned me onto 60s pop like the Beatles and the Monkees at a very young age, so I’ve been listening to old music as long as I can remember.
Angie: What do you like best about vinyl?
Will: Vinyl has its advantages as far as sound quality is concerned. But, I also just enjoy collecting music in a physical format. I am a graphic designer, so I love to have the record sleeves/album art in my collection. I collect a lot of records from the 1960s, so I see them as artefacts from another era. It’s a bit like time travelling when I am playing great records from a bygone time.
Angie: Who are your favourite keyboard players?
Will: Some of my favourite singer/songwriters who play keys are Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and Van Dyke Parks.
Angie: What inspires your songwriting?
Will: I felt inspired by a lot of 1960s baroque pop stuff… The Zombies, Nilsson, The Kinks, The Left Banke. I like the decorative arrangements and the playful lyrics. I am also interested in older, pre-rock styles of music. I like the style and camp of old show tunes and early 20th century vaudeville music. I love the sound of a harpsichord, whether it be in pop music or in baroque classical music.
Angie: What do “Captain Bullseye” and “Around the Moon” mean?
Will: Lyrically, I was thinking about a lot of imagery from the late 19th- and early 20th- century. “Captain Bullseye” is about a sea captain. It references the ship from “H.M.S. Pinafore”, which is a 1878 comic opera by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. My brother Andy and I were in a youth opera company as kids, and we were in a production of H.M.S. Pinafore.
“All Around the Moon” comes from the title of a Jules Verne story. It also comes from the 1870’s and was an early science fiction story about space travel. I was also reading about a ride at Coney Island called “A Trip to the Moon” which opened in 1903, and simulated space travel.
Angie: What was it like recording the songs?
Will: We recorded these songs to tape with Kevin Basko at at his ‘Historic NJ’ studio. Working with Kevin is great because he likes to work quickly. There isn’t time to second guess and do things over and over. It’s more about trying to capture an authentic performance. Andy, Kevin and I all played on the tracks.
Angie: I saw that the single was produced by Kevin Basko of Foxygen, how did you get in contact with him and what was it like working with him?
Will: Kevin is great to work with. Andy knew of him from his work with Foxygen and also his project, Rubber Band Gun. We were interested in working with him and we found out he was also living in New Jersey! We reached out via email and arranged to work together. Kevin records everything to tape, so we were able to capture some of that analog sound quality you hear on records from the 60s and 70s. Kevin is also a great arranger and performer. He played drums, guitar, and some additional keys on the tracks.
Angie: What are your goals for the year?
Will: My brother Andy has songs, and we have a few we are writing together as well. So we want to join forces and put out a longer EP or short album later this year. We are looking forward to working with Kevin Basko again in a few months to start working on new material.
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