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    Live Nation and Stateside Presents at Valley Bar

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Event Details

Doors 7:30pm | Show 8pm | 16+

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SAWYER FREDERICKS

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

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WONDER TRULY

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Youtube

“I never wanted to be a musician. I’ve always been adept in art, and I thought maybe I could cheat my rule by going into musical theatre or writing, but I certainly never wanted to be a touring solo artist. That was a dream my dad pursued, and he squandered my childhood doing it. If being a musician meant I was anything like my dad, I wanted nothing to do with it,” says Phoenix, Arizona-based musician Wonder Truly.

Life isn’t about the destination, though, it’s about the journey. That journey would lead Wonder to becoming a full-time, touring musician, despite her wanting nothing to do with it. “Then, in 2013, I acquired an injury that pinched a nerve in my neck and left me unable to grasp anything in my left arm,” she continues. “I couldn’t type, hold a spoon, or play guitar. The reality of a finite body crashed into focus, and I was finally honest with myself: There is one thing I want to be doing with my life, and it’s to be a musician. I am wasting my breakable, impermanent physical body doing things that aren’t what I most desperately want to be doing, and all because I’m afraid of following in my father’s footsteps.”

With her mind focused and clear following her pinched nerve, Wonder quit her job, entered physical therapy, and regained the use of her arm. The summer of 2013 saw her dedicated to music, putting everything else on the back burner. Her first release - only available at shows - quickly followed suit. Entitled The Minotaur, a cautious collection of faith-based songs, the release provided the legitimacy she needed to move forward.

Moving to Seattle in 2014 from Olympia, she threw herself into every open mic, showcase, and gig she could land within a fifty mile radius, released her first self-produced EP, Lungs, and convinced the music department at Carnival Cruise Lines that she had the chops to be hired as a guitar soloist.

This journey would eventually lead to her first commercially distributed release, the six-song EP Clumsy Dancers, an electronic-infused, melodic pop record centered around Wonder’s voice and her acoustic guitar, taking a singer-songwriter base and spinning it on its head with a modern, sleek, hook-laden drive.

“From January 2017 to June 2019, it was a long road to getting these six songs out into the world, but I have never been one to let waiting get in the way of doing what I want to do, or making what I want to make,” Wonder says of Clumsy Dancers. But, a lot of life, music, touring, and another move - this time to Phoenix, Arizona - would happen between her move to Seattle and the release of Clumsy Dancers.

“I learned very quickly that I did not have the chops [to be a guitar soloist for Carnival Cruise Lines],” she admits. “My fingers were bloody almost every day in the first two weeks, and my voice became a croak after performing for four hours a day, six days a week for months at a time.”

Faced with the threat of being squashed under the weight of how unqualified she was, she used the adversity to whip herself into shape instead. She learned a whole new repertoire of songs in the first few months, up to ten songs per day. She became as elastic and flexible a performer as she was a vocalist, learning how to play for a huge variety of audiences and demographics. 

“When I returned from my time with Carnival at the end of 2015, I had released one live album (Live at the Rendezvous, recorded at the Rendezvous in Seattle on a brief vacation home in February 2015), and was deep in the throes of self-producing the meaty, eleven-track electronic record that ended up being 2016’s summer release Burn the Answers. This Far Alive was released in the fall of 2016, following my first national solo tour, which I booked and executed myself. That release became a bestseller for the next three years, as it was the perfect ‘starter pack’ to all I had to offer as a musician: some studio-produced tracks with session players and guest singers, a handful of live concert tracks from Brooklyn, New York, and two self-produced bonus tracks.”

All this would lead to the new release, Clumsy Dancers, Wonder’s first full-production project since 2013’s The Minotaur, and her first nationally distributed album.

“I feel [The Minotaur] aged out really quickly, and has been archived for a while. [Clumsy Dancer’s Producer] Gavin Reign went above and beyond to make sure that these songs, as elevated in production as they are, still stayed true to the integrity and sound with which they were written. It’s sonically very different from previous releases, but the earnestness and honesty of the songs still shines through unobstructed because of Gavin’s attention to the core of each song as it was written,” she beams.

One of her favorite lyrics on the album is from the cinematic, groove-driven “The Awakening,” which finds Wonder coming full-circle, reviving a song from The Minotaur. In “The Awakening,” Wonder sings, “I want to write a story about mercy moving a man. Is my honesty just a hollow seed? Is there courage where I stand?”

“This is actually a song we revived from The Minotaur EP. We were in the studio, waiting for something to render. I was doodling with the guitar walk-down line from the original song (which I hadn’t played, touched, or thought of in years), and Gavin heard it, and demanded to know what the song was, and then insisted that we were making it. The line, ‘I want to write a story about mercy moving a man,’ was originally about wanting to use my platform and my music for the Church, and God, and the gospel of grace. Less than a year after the release of The Minotaur, I had a series of life experiences that shook me out of my faith and left me resigned to start at square one: in the pursuit of asking questions, and knowing that oftentimes there are no answers for them.”

Discussing her prior faith and religion, Wonder continues, “It’s interesting how the message can stay with you even after you ditch the book, though. Like a bundt cake once it’s taken out of the pan, it still holds its shape. I don’t prescribe to theology the way I used to, but I still very much believe in the power of grace and undeserved love. So in revisiting this song, and exhuming these beliefs I used to hold to so desperately, I kept that line, but added the part, ‘Is my honesty just a hollow seed? Is there courage where I stand?’ I am very afraid of being a hypocrite, or having a message as a means to an end. That was what I hated about the Christianity I experienced.”

“The Awakening” is a screaming challenge at the fake Facebook activism we see in the aftermath of every school shooting, every crisis in community and climate that leads people to share some articles and change profile pictures.

“None of us picks up the phone to call our senators, and even fewer than that are seen showing up to marches or local government forums to demand change on a grassroots level. I am guilty of it just as much as the rest of us, so the frustration in ‘The Awakening’ is aimed at me as much as anybody else,” she admits.

Discussing why Clumsy Dancers is her first nationally distributed release, despite several prior releases, Wonder says, “For all the past releases, it was a conscious choice to not have my music available on streaming services. I have worked so hard on my music, and I wasn’t about to give license of my life’s work to services that didn’t invest back into me. I offered my music exclusively on Bandcamp and CDs until the Clumsy Dancers release. The deciding factor in going to streaming distribution for this EP was that now, I have a collaborator [in producer Gavin Reign] on board, who has significant stake in the project. And even though my views on streaming and artists getting paid haven’t changed, I do know that literally submitting into the mainstream is a necessary starting point and a gamble that you have to take if you want your music to have any visibility.”

Wonder and Reign began working together in January 2017, serendipitously, as Wonder puts it. It started with her demo for “Please, Please, Please,” which featured stuttery, glitching percussion noises made by slapping her jeans-covered leg with the microphone only a few inches away, inspired by an Imogen Heap interview about creating her song “Bad Body Double,” wherein many of the sounds were created using hits on different parts of her body. Wonder then layered a vocal drone by humming a tone and hitting her chest on the beat. She sent this demo to Reign, and what he sent back to her impressed her. “It was a magnificent acoustic-electronic fusion. He translated my beat into these fantastic glitchy drum hits, added a ghostly delay onto the guitar, and glitched out my background vocals to turn them into even more of a background instrument.”

This collaboration lead to the two and a half year making of Clumsy Dancers, with Reign bringing to life Wonder’s songs exactly as she imaged them in her head, but wasn’t quite able to create herself. “When you bring an acoustic singer-songwriter song into a session, usually it’s either just you and your guitar, or whatever you were able to create in a demo,” she says. “But, much of this album came together in collaboration like how we worked on ‘Please, Please, Please,’ most of it being a happy surprise. When I sent the demo for ‘Clumsy Dancers,’ it was a symphony of vocal harmonies and guitar layering (drawing inspiration from the L.A. vocal group ARORA). Gavin took the entire demo apart, kept only the main vocal and guitar lines, and composed his greatest work of 2017 in a spectacular orchestral arrangement that has brought many listeners (and myself) to tears.”

The album’s lead single, which spawned a music video, “Kids Like Us,” is “the moment in the movie where the underdog finds the last ounce of strength they have to haul themselves off the dirt and start fighting back,” as Wonder puts it.

So much so that Wonder almost ended up titling the EP around “Kids Like Us,” but after some reverse engineering with Reign, they settled on Clumsy Dancers.

“‘Kids Like Us’ resonated across audiences since I first premiered it live in 2015, and it’s definitely the most anthemic message of the EP. Along with ‘The Awakening’ and ‘Stay Put,’ it sets the stage to a loud, unashamed, arms-wide statement.”

“But,” she continues, “the song ‘Clumsy Dancers’ is song three of six on the EP, and speaks to the hopefulness of navigating being in love when you are very aware that both parties are flawed and broken. The statement songs of the EP resonate with listeners and make them hyped up, or give them fistfuls of light as ammunition in a dark world; ’Clumsy Dancers’ brings the theme home to what my brand has been founded on all along: ‘I see you. I don’t have the answers. Let’s try anyway.’ It was important to me to stamp that on the cover of the EP, pledging to keep the roots intact even while growing in a tremendously different direction from where I’ve kept my sound over the last six years.”

Between Carnival and the release of Clumsy Dancers, several self-booked tours would follow, finding Wonder supporting local and national artists all over the U.S., as well as playing three to four hour gigs in front of dinner and shopping crowds, a new audience for her, and one she learned to embrace.

“The Clumsy Dancers tour was the first tour I’ve done since moving from Seattle to Phoenix. Since performing is my full-time job, I am pretty focused on the bottom line, and what’s going to be the best use of my time. Working for Carnival several years ago was the most efficient ego death I could have asked for as an aspiring musician, and I have no problem swallowing my pride and playing covers in restaurants and resorts if it pays my rent.”

While she did do an album release show for Clumsy Dancers, and a handful of house concerts to support the album, the Clumsy Dancers tour as a whole didn’t actually focus much on the record itself, rather focusing on places that aren’t traditional music venues, giving Wonder the unexpected upside to have an opportunity reach a demographic that isn’t the usual concertgoer type.

“Most of the local music economy, in my experience, is made up of musicians supporting other musicians. It’s endearing at best, and at its worst it is incestuous. My friend Devin Sinha has a great line in one of his songs about, ‘passing the same $10 bill around,’ and that’s what being part of a local scene feels like. You create community among other artists who are grinding and creating and struggling just like you are, but it’s a little discouraging knowing that none of you are breaking beyond that.

So, you get a chance to go play at a restaurant, or a wedding, or a farmer’s market, and people come up to you, and ask where they can find your music or come hear you again. Instead of just being somebody somebody saw on a bill at a bar or venue, you become part of this beautiful, unique experience they didn’t expect to have while they were out for a meal or to do their market shopping.” 

She continues, “If I had the capital to do a venues-only tour or a tour of exclusively house concerts, I definitely would have taken that risk, because it’s so good and nourishing for the artist’s soul to be able to showcase their own work for a run of shows. But I like to afford food, and housing, and the car that drives me from town to town, and I find enough value in the non-traditional, lucrative places to play to keep me doing it, even if it wasn’t in the record’s best interest.”

With the record complete and her mind focused on promoting the EP, she says, “One [of the many] things about Clumsy Dancers that delights me, is how the process of making it was just as groundbreaking and triumphant as the release itself. It wasn’t fraught with misery, tears, fighting with my collaborators or bandmates, and tearful fundraising. Yes, I was impatient (who doesn’t get impatient?), but the process was such a valuable experience for me, and having this beautiful, polished product at the end of that road is the cherry on top.”

The initial feedback has overwhelmed her with joy.

“Hearing from so many people who have listened to it, love it, and had the impetus to circle back to me to tell me this themselves [has been a highlight to me],” she says. “We are living in an interesting age of social media where more and more people are faking authenticity and vulnerability. We are overcorrecting into acknowledging fear, anxiety, self-consciousness, mental illness, and the sheer reality that it’s not easy to be human. Vulnerability has always been my platform, but I want my honesty to mean something. If somebody gets strength from my music and turns to me, an artist, to continue to inspire them or give them that message, I want to be strong enough to be leaned on.”

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Support acts are subject to change. No refunds.

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Event Location

Directions

Valley Bar

130 N. Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ, 85004

Show Map

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Talent

Sawyer Fredericks

WONDER TRULY