Interview: Wings of Desire

Drawing inspiration from psychological revolution, visual arts, and 20th century counterculture, the newest project from INHEAVEN’s Chloe Little and James Taylor peels back the layers of modern life. Gemma Cockrell caught up with the duo to breakdown the new EP, as well as discuss the pair’s thoughts on growing up, their creative process, and their connection with their former project INHEAVEN.

James Taylor and Chloe Little of Wings of Desire have announced their forthcoming EP Amun-Ra, which will be released on August 13th. The announcement came alongside the unveiling of their reflective new track, Choose A Life. Amun-Ra is the duo’s second EP of 2021, following February’s End Of An Age. “I feel like Amun-Ra is a step up, lyrically it’s another level up as well,” Taylor muses. “The first EP was dealing with the bigger questions of reality and the way the world is run, whereas this is more inwardly focused.” Little describes End Of An Age as a “mission statement,” whereas both members view Amun-Ra as a more “personal EP.”

“We haven’t really said this out loud!” Little exclaims when I ask about the deeper meaning of the new EP’s title. “With End of an Age, that title encapsulates what that project is. Amun-Ra is this new, Sun energy for the next step.” Taylor adds that “Amun-Ra is the Egyptian Sun God, the life-giver of the planet. It’s like a new start, a fresh start for us.”

“Amun-Ra is the Egyptian Sun God, the life-giver of the planet. It’s like a new start, a fresh start for us.”

Choose a Life, the track that came alongside the EP announcement, is a “retrospective and uplifting tune,” according to Taylor. “A lot of the music we’ve released so far has been deep-cutting, so this one is more of a feel-good, hazy, dream-pop tune. It’s about looking back at your life and the choices you’ve made. It’s definitely one of my favourites. Hopefully it ties in with everything opening up and people being able to go out again. I feel like it’s a bit of a summer tune.”

Little adds, “I think it stands out compared to other tracks that we’ve put out so far. I think it feels quite different actually. It’s a bit lighter, it feels really beautiful.” In terms of musical influences, Taylor explains that the track takes influence from the era of 00’s New York indie. “It’s harking back to the good old days. There’s a bit of The Teenagers too – a very niche reference – there’s a tiny bit of that in there, which is cool.”

The duo actually released the first taste of the EP back in May, in the form of the track Better Late Than Never. “There are so many songs about being young and free, but we wanted to write a song about getting old. Feeling like you’re losing your relevance in the world, when you’re not really. It’s about coming to terms with that and finding the freedom in letting go,” Taylor expands on the meaning behind the track.

“Everyone goes through that, whether you’re turning twenty-one or fifty!” Little laughs. “In our Western world, it’s like you hit a certain point and then go downhill. Whereas in other cultures, the older you get the more respected you are and the stronger you feel,” she ponders. “You have life experience under your belt so it should be seen as a positive thing,” Taylor agrees. “The song was about dealing with that, and finding empowerment. Weirdly, I think that the older you get, the easier and better life gets. No one has ever really spoken about that in a song before.”

The world is driving you crazy so you need a way out somehow. Some sort of ritual or creative desire to keep you sane.”

Along with Better Late Than Never and Choose a Life, the EP will also include two more tracks, one of which being the spiritual OUTTAMAMIND. “It’s about finding freedom,” Taylor explains. “We both started meditating and got really into self-care. It’s about finding your escape within the otherworldly, and within the art. The world is driving you crazy so you need a way out somehow. Some sort of ritual or creative desire to keep you sane in this world.”

The EP closer Forgive and Forget is Taylor’s personal favourite. “It’s got a big Americana wide-screen sound which I think people will love,” he justifies why he is so fond of the track. “That one was inspired by being a spectator of everything that is going on in the world. Seeing people in high positions making bad decisions, and realising that the people who run the world are very unbalanced people who probably shouldn’t be in those positions.” Little furthers: “It’s about losing yourself in the news cycle, which I’m sure loads of people have been doing recently, because it’s just in your face all the time and it’s not particularly good for you.”

Wings of Desire take a very independent approach to making music, with Taylor laughing that they were “kind of in isolation even before the pandemic!” Little agrees, referring to the band fondly as “lone wolves.” “James produces everything and that was always the plan. If we had been in a different situation, we might have gone down a different path. But we had to do it ourselves, and I think it was the best thing possible.” Whilst Taylor serves as the duo’s producer, Little is the mastermind behind their music videos. It is therefore unsurprising that they adapted to the pandemic with ease. “It was quite easy to be honest,” Taylor confirms. “We haven’t really had to stop anything creatively, even though the world has stopped.”

The pair have not only spent the past year working on Wings of Desire, but they have also established their own record label. “We want to sign people and help younger people. We can offer so much advice because we’ve had a lot of experience ourselves within the industry. I’m really looking forward to getting out, meeting new artists, and helping them develop,” Taylor enthuses. “Having our own label has helped, because with our old band we always had to ask someone if we could put out a song. Now, we can put out whatever we want.”

“We did so many gigs and now we feel more confident stepping out there for the first time with a new project.”

This was the first mention of the duo’s former involvement with INHEAVEN within our conversation, a topic which is near impossible not to bring up when talking to Wings of Desire. “We were learning as we went with INHEAVEN. Now, we’ve had all that experience so we can go in at a higher level from the start,” Taylor explains. “It was our first band and we were super nervous playing live at the start,” Little reminisces. “We did so many gigs and now we feel more confident stepping out there for the first time with a new project.”

Whilst expressing sincere gratitude for their former INHEAVEN fanbase, they emphasise that Wings of Desire is a new and entirely separate project. “We were proud of what we’ve done before, it gave us the tools to do what we’re doing now, but we definitely want this to feel like its own stand-alone project. It’s been nice to see people discover it,” Little expresses. “Obviously, there’s the core fans from before who’ve come on board, and that’s great.” Taylor evidently feels the same way. “It’s been nice having that support system because you don’t have to come out completely cold. So that really helped us with launching this project, having that small community to go back to.”

Looking to the future, Wings of Desire have plans to release a full-length album. “Hopefully we’ll be going into an album after Amun-Ra. We’ve actually got the album,” Taylor confesses, “It just needs to be organised really. We want to do a limited run of vinyl as well. It might be out by the time we play a show! We want to underplay it, and just put it out there, and build it live.” Little confirms this; “We’ve discussed a date, we’re close. It’s ready.”

Post-lockdown, they are looking forward to the possibility of playing live shows again. “Obviously, they had that great trial show in Liverpool the other week. I’m interested to see whether it will be the same as before or feel different,” Little contemplates. “I’m really interested to see what playing live will be like too,” Taylor echoes. “When we were in INHEAVEN we gained our fans by playing live all the time, whereas this has been more of an online project. It will be great to go back and see familiar faces,” he smiles.

Written by: Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Olivia Stock

Featured and in-article images courtesy of Wings of Desire on Facebook.