Perth’s Charlie Wilde is the brainchild of Aidan Ziccone, a Byronesque (the poet not the town) 23-year old who is as serious as he is seriously good at creating music. If debut single, ‘Low Fidelity’ is anything to go by, Charlie Wilde and Ziccone are hot properties on the Australian music scene that you need to immediately know about.
Based on this first release, Ziccone is a major talent in the making.
“The song is very much a reflective piece,” Ziccone told Around The Sound. “I’ve had this thought for a long time that, if I was going to have a debut single, if I was going to make it even this far, it needed to be something that was going to help me move forward, a cathartic experience. I felt like I needed to right a couple of wrongs that I’d transgressed in this life.”
The multiple ‘ifs’ in that comment are a reminder of the savage self doubt that is at the core of every artist’s existence. It’s a triumph that Ziccone has managed to release his first single, but what makes this release so remarkable is the quality of the music.
Building from innocent and unadorned single guitar notes to a lushly textured soundscape, ‘Low Fidelity’ is three verses of heart pouring from an artist who’s looking to make amends in the #metoo era. We don’t know exactly what wrongs Ziccone is trying to put right in this song, we didn’t feel it was right to ask and Ziccone didn’t quite offer up an explanation, but we know that, based on the music alone, whatever he thinks he’s done, he deserves forgiveness. And, maybe that’s the point. Forgiveness is in short supply these days.
Digging deeper into the narrative of the lyric, Ziccone said, “The first thing that a human loses when they’re in pain is empathy. It’s pretty much all about that and I designed the song to be littered with double entendres. On first listening, the protagonist, in this case me, is a very sympathetic character and you think, ‘He’s gone through some pain here.’ It’s only on the second, third, fourth, fifth listening that you think, ‘No, this guy’s in the wrong, he shouldn’t have done those things.”
‘Low Fidelity’ ends with Charlie Wilde telling the world, I am a demon / I am a demon / leave me / with no mercy at all. It would be harrowing stuff, maybe even unlistenable/unbelievable in different hands, but, as Charlie Wilde, Ziccone manages to harness emotion in a way that few others can, except those who are the best in the business.
“It’s purely life experience,” Ziccone continued, almost blithely, his insight belying his youth. “When you go through these cataclysmic events, especially when you’re a teenager, everything is just so strong, things can feel like the end of the world. And you’re also hungry for any other emotional experience that’s going to fill what you feel is a void. I think, in the moment, you don’t realise the damage you’re doing, you don’t realise you’re responsible for other people’s emotions as much as you are your own.”
Here is a song writer and singer who’s continuing a line, creating poetic music that springs directly from his heart and experiences, but at the same time is able to touch on universal truths about existence that reach far beyond his years.
In his song writing and delivery as Charlie Wilde, Ziccone is part Romantic poet, part method actor. It’s all about the feels.
“As soon as I’m not feeling a song any more, that’s when it’s time to move on. Sometimes, I’ll close my eyes before I play a song to get myself back in the moment and what I was feeling when I wrote the song. For those three or four minutes, I kind of just become that person again.
“I’ve got a three-song series about my performance anxiety. Funnily enough, because that’s always there, they’re the easiest songs in my set to perform.”
Live performances are relatively rare for Charlie Wilde, as his performance anxiety makes getting up on stage a difficult proposition. For the moment, Ziccone is concentrating on building his presence and engagement online, but we for one hope that he will return to live performance at some stage. Doing what Charlie Wilde does in a room full of people is a transcendent experience that we believe artists should be willing to sacrifice themselves for to satisfy the lust of the people for their art. It’s a delicious tension between the artist exercising self preservation and giving the people what they want. Let’s hope that Ziccone can get the balance right, for our sake as well as his.
One of the features of ‘Low Fidelity’ is Ziccone’s distinctive voice and vocal delivery. When we first heard the opening bars, we thought he’d roped in a woman to sing the track for him and, when we put it to Ziccone he told us, “I’m more than happy to be perceived as androgynous. I think for this story gender’s not really important. Charlie Wilde is not my true singing voice, but it’s the one I feel most comfortable telling my stories with. The way my voice is shaped, it’s something that happens when you’re in the moment.”
Around The Sound’s take on the flavour of Charlie Wilde’s voice is Brian Moklo with hints of Michael Stipe, both references that Ziccone was only vaguely aware of. (Ah, age!) But it did lead us to muse on influences for Charlie Wilde, to which, Ziccone said, “There’s no such thing as true originality. All of, whether it’s a conscious thing, or a subconscious thing, take a little something from each person we really admire. For me it’s Keith Henson, Bon Iver, Patrick Watson, there’s even a little bit of Tom Odell in that track. Those are artists that also feel that emotion is such an important thing.”
So what’s next for this extraordinary new talent? There are new recordings afoot that will be released in due course. Ziccone’s own take on it is that, “Charlie Wilde is a megaphone blast in the dark corner of my psyche, something that needs to be said.” Knowing that, we should be able to expect more output from this project, because Ziccone won’t be able to help himself.
But, “I’ve been working with a couple of other musicians,” Ziccone told us. “It’s very early days, so we don’t even have a name or anything. It’s very exciting times.”
Exciting is a good way to put it. Based on this first release, Ziccone is a major talent in the making. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.