Giselle Mapp is the lead-singer of Toronto based band WILDE. The band were all working on independent music projects until they met and felt an instant connection. Giselle's ethereal vocals work beautifully along the other-wordly production from Olotubi "Nyra" Akinwumi and Brandon Merenick, her fellow bandmates. We caught up with Giselle in Berlin ahead of the release of WILDE's debut EP "Flashlight".
COZY MAG: Hey Giselle! How are you?
Giselle: Hey! I’m good. Wow! It’s been a while talking and now finally getting a chance to see you in person. How have you been?
CM: Good. A little tired, but good. I met one of your friends the other day when she came out to Berlin.
G: It was that Carnival in Berlin recently, right? I can’t believe that I missed that. I really like that event, but I’ll be back in August, so I’ll just go another time I guess.
CM: Why do you like it so much?
G: It’s just fun, chill, you can walk around and have a coconut or whatever...
CM: ...Typical Berlin stuff.
G: (Laughs) Exactly, yeah. I’ll see it next time. But it sometimes can get pretty annoying and claustrophobic- but then I’ll just stroll off into one of the side streets and chill, grab one of those watered down drinks that they sell but you don’t care. At least when you had three or four and it’s all good at the end. I’m going to miss that.
CM: First of all, I think it’s great what you guys do. I feel that despite not really knowing each other for that long, we all share this common mindset. It’s like a community of people that’s all about creating something together. I know that’s how your project WILDE came about...
G: That’s true. If you wait, it’s just a waste of time. A lot of times it’s all about just reaching out to people. It was nice to know that we’re into the same things, just through mutual friends and even Instagram. I’ve made a lot of friends through Instagram.
You can find people with a similar mindest about what we want and we want to connect. If you find somebody really talented, or someone that has a vision that you like, you can build a relationship based on that. I feel like that’s how it works now. For instance, there’s this producer called Lapien I was working with when I was living in Berlin and we actually met through Couch Surfing!
CM: That’s crazy!
G: Yeah! And it’s not even like he was crashing at my place and I was crashing at his place. It was literally thorugh the Couch Surfing website where I found this page about music producers and I was looking for an artist to collaborate with while I was in Berlin and we just started messaging each other.
He asked me if I’d be interested in working with him on a track, but I wanted to meet up anyways. You never know if you might enjoy working together or not. It takes some time to figure that out. So we did and we eventully worked on a few tracks. One of the tracks called "My Obsession“ we worked on is on a Fred P compilation. I mean it didn't go anywhere huge, but it's just a great thing that it was completed and it built this relationship that we have now. We will work together in the future for sure.
CM: Linking up on Couch Surfing for a collab is random, indeed.
G: Yeah, that was really random. I think I’ve always been interested in that kind of communication with people. I’m willing to take that chance since I’ve never been afraid of just connecting with people, not only on a person to person level.
You know, my mom was really cool with people coming to our house. When I was 17/18, I couldn’t travel. My mom basically said that since I couldn't travel, myself, I should bring the travellers to me. That’s why I always wanted to have couch surfers.
CM: And I guess that’s how you ended up in Berlin?
G: Yeah, that’s also why I went to Berlin. I have a few friends that have stayed with me that I’m still in touch with. They urged me to come to Europe as soon as I’d graduated school. So I did that exact thing after I graduated in 2011. When I got to Berlin, I realized that the city is just me, that it really reflects my personality. I just knew I had to live there.
CM: Is that when you started working on your WILDE project?
G: Yes. That was around the same time.
CM: Is there a reason you started something new at that specific point in your life?
G: Before WILDE, I'd been in a folk band and I’d also been working with some other producers as well. Funny enough, when I was around 17 I was part of this music program in Toronto called Remix and the producer that was mentoring me happened to be Noah 40 Shebib, who later became Drake’s producer, but we never finished the EP we were working on because he basically told me one day: "Sorry Giselle, I have to go to ATL with this guy named Drake to work on his stuff"
CM: Really? So he basically dumped you for Drake?
G: But I remember Drake even from before that. If you’re in Toronto your bound to meet people once or twice. I met him through mutual friends and he used to send me song ideas before I even new he and 40 were creating something so big. And the sound then was really raw, it was just becoming what everyone knows of Drake. I thought nothing of it then, but now I wish I had kept all of those...
CM: That’s kind of funny – Drake before the fame!
G: Degrassi, The Next Generation: That was his major thing in Toronto before his rise. He was always kind of popular, but this definitely became his true element. When they went to ATL I realized I had my own true elements to figure out. I decided to study Film and Television Production and get a higher education while I figured out music, and where I fit into it, while still staying in a creative field.
CM: Let’s go back for a second and talk a little about when you started doing music and WILDE, which is the group you’ve been in now for a bit. How did you start getting into music?
G: I started writing music when I was 13, 14 and I’ve been part of various programs and projects ever since then. I was also in a folk band for a short time after I left college, and did background vocals for and artist named Zaki Ibrahim when she opened up for Erykah Badu at Massey Hall.
She was and is pretty big in Toronto and South Africa, and while I was doing backup vocals for her I think that's when I wanted to take my own music further. My manager first met me at one of my performances with the old folk band I was in, and approached me. He felt like I should meet a producer and close friend of his – Brandon - which we did and we just clicked, and then Tobi Nyra came on as well. That was basically the beginning of WILDE.
CM: So you already started working on it before you decided that you wanted to leave Toronto?
G: Yeah, I started working on WILDE before I went to Berlin. We had already finished a few tracks. The guys kept on working on the songs while I was out there and eventually hit me up and told me that things were really happening and that I’d need to get home to work on our songs.
When we first started recording, I didn’t really know where the whole thing was going, but I knew it was fun, and that I was really enjoying it. It was the first time I was working with producers that I felt I’d continue to work with together, but I also just had to leave Toronto.
CM: So the guys kept working on while you were gone?
G: I booked my ticket and left, but the guys kept on working on mixing and mastering the songs, and we stayed in touch and thought about ideas and how to make the songs more creative. When I came back, I wanted to see if we could create something that would allow us to showcase our music even outside of North America, or America.
We started shopping our stuff for more advice and help- and we actually did get an offer from a record label. It was really interesting to see that we were actually going somewhere with our project. But ultimately we didn't go through with it. We already had our set up for recording and studio time which is a blessing, and we didn't want to compromise our music and creativity for anyone or label, so it was just the best decision for us at that time.
It also allowed us to not wait have to wait for permission. We just put out the video and the single for "Flashlights" our first single, and our first video. We also just did three shows, which were the first three shows we've ever put on for any audiences. Not long ago we opened up for Soulection in Toronto, for the Hennessy Artistry of Blending project, and it was pure bliss getting to perform after such a long time!
CM: So when is the next release coming?
G: Our EP is coming out soon. There's also going to be a whole bunch of remixes of Flashlight from a whole bunch of people, like Esta from Soulection and the Nick Catchdubs remix just dropped! ,