Scranton emo rapper/ex-Tigers Jaw vocalist releases new Wicca Phase Springs Eternal collab ‘This Moment I Miss’
From a press release:
Through an extensive catalog of collaborations, singles, EPs, 2016’s “Secret Boy” LP, and his critically acclaimed Run for Cover debut last year, “Suffer On,” Wicca Phase Springs Eternal has become a celebrated pioneer in a vital new direction of underground music.
Wicca Phase is the creative persona of Scranton singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Adam McIlwee, whose innate gift with words can be traced back to his time in indie rock band Tigers Jaw, the widely influential band he fronted before walking away in 2013 to start an ambitious new chapter. He would refine Wicca Phase’s unmistakable sound with each release, blending the incisive wit of songwriters like Nick Cave with heart-on-sleeve earnestness and fearless experimentation with modern hip-hop production, unique combinations of dark electronics, trap rhythms, and alternative music.
“I wanted to work with Darcy because he’s a complete songwriter,” McIlwee said.
“What I love most about ‘This Moment I Miss’ is that we were able to mix classic-sounding Wicca Phase songs with some full-band songs, and that’s not something I’ve done on a proper Wicca Phase release yet.”
Anchored by McIlwee’s inimitable vocals, Baylis’ production moves seamlessly around sampled hi-hats, 808s, live drums, and guitar, resulting in five songs that feel true to Wicca Phase canon while adding new colors to McIlwee’s palette.
“Pull It Forward” opens the release with a pulsating beat, shimmering guitar lines, and McIlwee’s signature longing, while “Hardcore” finds Baylis mixing programmed rhythms with some of the most heavily distorted guitars to ever appear on a Wicca Phase song. Other songs like “Obsessed” and “Painkiller” include prominent organic instruments (with the latter featuring Baylis’ affecting vocals on the chorus), and “I Want to Go Out Tonight” highlights McIlwee’s ability to communicate unbridled longing through club-ready lyrics.
Baylis and McIlwee’s team-up on “This Moment I Miss” captures the spark that makes both artists so captivating and makes for another impressive entry into Wicca Phase’s already sprawling catalog, which resonates with a generation raised amidst the frenzied collage of modern digital expression.
Wicca Phase first materialized a decade ago in 2010. After receiving the name suggestion in an email from a friend on Tumblr, McIlwee began writing and recording under the moniker.
“Once I heard the name, it felt perfect,” he explained. Evoking mystical, occult resonances, the name serves as a passageway to explore the parallels between the material world and that of mystery.
“My music is very representative of what I’m doing in the moment,” he continued. “The influence of the name seeps in and lets everyone know they’re getting into something deeper.”
During high school, McIlwee and Ben Walsh formed Tigers Jaw in 2005 and released their first album, “Belongs to the Dead,” in 2006.
“I was super active on Tumblr at the time and came across all of this early Internet rap. It was inspiring.” He sought more fervently the immediacy of writing, recording, and releasing songs instantly, releasing music from his bedroom with no consideration for the industries standard protocol.
As he continued to evolve in his new artistic endeavors, he ultimately linked up with like-minded creatives by way of Twitter DMs. Together, he and his newfound collaborators built a network of creators across the country and, in 2015, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal co-founded Gothboiclique (GBC). Comprised of 10 artists, including Cold Hart, Horse Head, Lil Tracy, and eventually the late Lil Peep, the Internet collective began creating a palpable buzz and accordingly influencing a growing wave of artists and musicians.
“GBC is really rooted in the spirit of loner culture and heartbreak culture,” he elaborated. “There’s this dark element that’s always been a part of American gothic music, the aesthetic, and the subculture.”
With GBC’s growing notoriety, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal simultaneously established himself as a singular voice, adeptly combining his natural songwriting instincts with the digital culture enveloping his world. In 2019, he released his debut on Run for Cover Records, “Suffer On,” produced by Døves, Will Yip, and McIlwee with cover artwork by current Tigers Jaw vocalist/keyboardist Brianna Collins.
“Suffer On” is an exploration of familiar forms through the lens of something new and extraordinary. It is the first Wicca Phase record fully written by McIlwee, utilizing guitars and keyboards to create each song’s core and building upwards from there.
“It’s so much easier to write more impactful songs when you’re doing it from scratch,” he explained. “You create the journey for listeners as opposed to getting a map from a producer and trying to fit what you’re saying onto it. It’s all coming from me.”
On the first single, “Just One Thing,” fearless percussion reconditions his vulnerable and vital delivery. He croons, “To think that I’m alone is like my worst fear / I want you right here.”
Themes of longing, entrapment, and sacrifice permeate the album – the notion of wanting more and not getting it. Production and lyrics are both intentionally sparse and bleak, reinforcing such feelings and allowing room for the weighty moods to fill the sonic void.
Lush acoustic guitar underscores the heavy emotionality of “Crushed” as he dissects a “natural anxiety about everything.” Then, there’s “Put Me in Graves.” Ethereal synths shimmer above double-time drums as his cadence wavers between frenetic and danceable.
“Suffer On’s” title track encapsulates the delicate sorrow at the record’s heart over a haunting timbre.
“It’s about making a deal with the devil,” he said. “It’s saying I can pursue this artistic thing as a career, but the consequence is I’m going to put myself out there in an emotional state for everybody to consume.”
But it was never really a choice which path to follow – like all great songwriters, McIlwee is driven by the innate urge to express himself through song. And in the end, “Suffer On” emanates its own magic stemming from its creator.
While not performing in the area often, Wicca Phase teamed up with another local rock-singer-turned-hip-hop-artist, Glitterer (Title Fight bassist/vocalist Ned Russin), last December for a show at Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre.