Interview – WTF’s Warren Thomas Fenzi

Rebecca Marx, Artwork Warren Thomas Fenzi

Since my recent infatuation with WTF’s single “We Were Never Meant To Stay The Same” doesn’t seem to be waning in the least, I thought that it was time to have a conversation with WTF’s frontman Warren Thomas Fenzi. He clued me in on a few things, including how collaboration keeps him humble.

The single “We Were Never Meant To Stay The Same” that was released in January has stayed with me since I first heard it. Beyond catchy, it delivers a kind of honest tough love message that manages to be very upbeat at the same time. Seems as if there could be a bit of personal knowledge that informed the concept of the song, is there a story behind it?

I wrote “We Were Never Meant To Stay The Same” on an airplane heading back from Belize. In hindsight, it’s clear for me to see the sun and warm weather of Central America in the fibers of that song. Overall I think it’s a calling and reminder to myself that growth and honesty with oneself is mandatory not just to live but to thrive and be happy as a human being. I’m someone who gets very comfortable in a routine and I get scared when that routine that has been “working” for a while, isn’t really working anymore. It’s an honest, tough love way of saying, “Embrace change!”

AND what’s up with the name WTF?

My full name is Warren Thomas Fenzi which makes my initials WTF. It seemed a natural fit when brainstorming names for the project.

AHA! Correct me if I am wrong, but WTF is fronted by you–your initials after all, though it is part of a five person music/arts collective called Kriyative Emblems of a Blue Soul Renaissance. How did the collective come about?

That is correct. The five core members of the collective are Bailey Cogan, Karl Remus, Daniel Chavez, Christian Wheeler and myself. Kriyative Emblems of a Blue Soul Renaissance (Kremblems for short) was started by Karl. Karl and I have been close friends for about 7 years now. We met at Berklee in Boston and I would visit Minneapolis during the summer to work with Karl on his original music. I decided to move out here in April of 2015. The collective started as an idea to bring together like-minded artists and musicians with the goal of creating a community of transformative and healing art with no boundaries. Lucid VanGuard was the first incarnation of Kremblems and since its birth, WTF, 26BATS! and Christian Wheeler have emerged within the collective.

Is there an advantage to being part of such a collective artistically?

Absolutely! As such diverse artists with a wide range of influences, I believe the collective mentality lends itself perfectly to eliminating a lot of the ego that comes along with leading a group or playing a certain role. Since the collective consists of five core members, we have many different outlets to express ourselves through and multiple roles to play within each group. It’s impossible to get bored! It’s refreshing to play with the people that you love in so many different settings and styles. The collective almost forces you to understand all aspects of creating, performing, producing and marketing music. We are constantly learning from each other.

Apart from Kremblems, are members of the band involved in the local music scene in other ways?

Yes. Christian works a lot with other groups, both local and international, who hire him as an engineer, mixer and producer. Karl is a member of the group Fragile Canyons and collaborates with local hip-hop artists. Bailey produces music for local artists such as Driftwood and continues to work on her own solo projects. Daniel Chavez has played Trumpet with Black Tiger Sex Machine, The Night Sweats, The VonTramps and continues to sit in with various local groups. I play drums and percussion with Black Market Brass and fill in on drum set with Tabah on occasion along with various other local groups. I am also working on recording and producing my own music as well as scoring for podcasts and films.

With the new single, I see the musical side of the collective, which pardon me, I loved–strong beats, beautiful acoustic guitar, and vocals from yourself and Maria Starr that break my heart in the best way each time that I listen, can you tell me about the art side of the equation?

Thank you, that means a lot. I feel very fortunate to have worked with Maria Starr on this song. She has a gorgeous personality and voice. So far, the art for WTF has been created by me. I have been working on a piece for a while that will be the cover art for the album. The art for the single is a small section of that piece.

To clarify since there are five of you, is the upcoming release from WTF primarily your vision as its lead? Actually, maybe what I wonder is–if the collective allows for a singular vision to be expressed, or is it more of a group one?

WTF is mainly my vision in the sense that I write, record and arrange most of the parts. My goal for the album is to record most of the instruments myself and fill in the cracks with the wonderful talent that I’m surrounded by. Since the collective is made up of four different groups, I like to look at it as each of us is in charge of our own project while still allowing and inviting input and creative freedom from all of the members.

Does that include recording and mixing as well?

Yes. For this record, all of the engineering, mixing and mastering are being done by Christian. I let him do his thing. He’s an amazing producer. If either of us has an opinion or specific idea, we freely communicate it. I’m finding it’s extremely important to go into the recording of each song with a strong idea of how I want it to sound while still maintaining an open mind.

Will the remainder of WTF’s upcoming release be more of the same in style as compared to”We Were Never Meant To Stay The Same”, and when will we hear it?

The rest of the record is certainly similar in style to “We Were Never Meant To Stay The Same”, though the single is certainly the most “pop” oriented song on the record. We are planning on releasing the full length album on August 23rd of this year with help from a Kickstarter campaign.

I look forward to hearing more from WTF–where can we see you all perform?

Thank you! We will be performing at Honey on Friday February 24th along with Maria and the Coins from 7-9pm as well as doing an on air, in studio session on “Monday Night Live” with KVSC 88.1FM on Monday, March 20th at 9pm.

2/24 Honey Show Info:https://www.facebook.com/events/371355676579605/

Listen: http://wtf23.bandcamp.com/