The Northern Light: An Interview with Gabriel Wolfchild and the Northern Light

Photo courtesy of Michael Porter
Sometimes, a story needs to be told through a third party. There is always someone out there who can take the littlest detail of someone's life and turn it into a work of art. Other times, the one meant to create the work of art is too inspired by the story. In the case of Gabriel Wolfchild, his storytelling is so dazzling to read that leaving out a single sentence could misinterpret the story completely. This is his story, in his own words:

I was around music often, being raised in household that often held shows and harbored passing musicians. However, my creative outlets originally took shape in the visual arts realm. I predominantly identified as a painter and sketch artist until much later in life. It wasn't until my time studying in figurative sculpture at art school in San Francisco that I even entertained the idea of making music my profession. Gestural figure sculpture was the first art medium that got me in touch with the subtleties of the human experience and emotion. It allowed me to clearly see the core of what I wanted to create with my art. Ultimately I have found that all artists alike share a deep desire to connect. We strive to achieve that connection by creating something that evokes emotion within the viewer. During my breaks at the studio, I would play guitar in the stairwell. Soon I discovered that, for me, music was a more direct way to create that emphatic connection. And soon music became my sole focus. I allowed myself to be fully immersed into music after transferring to Evergreen State College.

After the release of my first solo record "A Cry To The Moon" in 2012, I traveled either alone or with my brother Elion, who played drums, mandolin, and sang backup vocals. Together we toured the US as well as parts of Europe. It was a much more simple time of playing music. At some point we began to hunger for new textures and sounds, so we began working with other musicians. One of these people was Maesyn. She was a wandering gypsy violinist who ended up helping me compose the music for my solo album.

I was a contestant on The Voice in 2015. That experience helped me to become really clear on what my message was and what I wanted to create. I got back in touch with myself in a beautiful way, but it also became apparent that I couldn't create what I wanted to alone.

With all the interviews and camera time, the reality of thousands of people watching the show can create a lot of pressure. That forced me to really reconcile with myself and get clear on what I want to stand for. All those loosely sketched dreams of creating connection between people with my work suddenly felt concrete and within reach. I left with a clear vision and renewed ethos that I could carry into my work. Once I found that core, the people that were also aligned with this vision found me.

After the show I returned to Seattle and began seeking collaborators to make a new record. Through that process, the members of "The Northern Light" revealed themselves.

Meeting Eric [Lilavois, producer of Mornings Like These EP] was an act of universal alignment. We knew of each other through mutual acquaintances, but once we finally did meet and he toured us through London Bridge Studios, it felt so right. Somehow, I knew we were going to make something incredible together. Now that the record is done and about to be carved into vinyl, I know I was right.

Even now, Eric is still an incredible ally and friend. Whether our band is going through conflict or just needs someone to bounce ideas off of, he is always there for us. He has come through for us in ways well above and beyond anything we could have asked for. Eric Lilavois is truly an incredible human.

Many of these songs came about during a time when both my partner and I were changing an immense amount. It was poetry and music brought us together in the first place. As we started to push and pull in different directions, they became the threads that would stop us from drifting apart completely. It was our way to get past the chitter chatter of our minds and get to the core of what we were feeling. There were many things we needed to communicate that neither of us knew how to say with words alone. Poetry and dance became her method to communicate, and music became mine.

The title track "Mornings Like These" is one of our more avant-garde songs on the EP. It is an epic [story] that travels through all the different seasons and sensations of love. It is an appreciation of those soft, still moments we get to share with the people we love…even as fleeting as they can be.

"Runaways" came from a realization that no matter how separate we may appear from one another we still can affect each other in meaningful ways. This is especially true when it comes to romantic encounters. When we get hurt, it can be so hard to understand how someone we loved so dearly could do such a thing. Yet more often than not, it won't take long for us to find ourselves in the same situation… just on the other side of the story. At some point we have to decide if we will continue the pattern of pain and act as we have been treated or act as we would like to be treated. The is also true with feelings of love; it's way easier to act out of love when we are treated with love. Our goal was to create a physical representation of this pattern by starting a hug train that traveled all over the city of Seattle. We involved as many friends as we could as well as many strangers passing by who wanted to participate. We had so much fun and we made a lot of new friends!

I want to send a message of love and togetherness. Even when it’s difficult to see, there is beauty in every shade of darkness as well as every ray of light that life shines our way. Maybe there is no such thing as ‘strangers’…and we are all just a little ‘strange’.