Big Wild
Big Wild | Credit: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Love Letter to a Record: Big Wild on Tame Impala’s ‘Currents’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Big Wild’s Jackson Stell confesses his love for Tame Impala’s Currents.

In early September 2022, Portland-based producer, writer, and multi-instrumentalist Jackson Stell released The Efferusphere, his second album under the Big Wild alias. The 14-track project arrives three years after Big Wild’s debut effort, Superdream, which included the single ‘6’s to 9’s’, a veritable hit. On the new record, Stell binds together elements of alternative, indie, dance and psychedelic rock to construct the album’s titular imagined place.

Big Wild’s Love Letter to Tame Impala’s Currents

Big Wild: Back in 2015, I was living in LA and starting to explore my music career as Big Wild. Touring opportunities became more regular, streams were growing, and my music career began to materialise. One of those opportunities was playing the DoLab stage at Coachella, where a friend recommended Tame Impala’s Currents to me. So I listened to it on my drive back home. Wrong place, wrong time, I did not latch on. 

I shrugged off the music and failed to make a connection – my ear was so far down an electronic music wormhole I closed off anything else. However, I couldn’t deny the unique qualities of what I heard. Tame’s music had a deep, thumping edge to it combined with a colourful and borderline-goofy counterpart. An impression was made.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I needed a change. I felt like I hit a creative dead-end with instrumental music and encountered so many creative roadblocks. This feeling led me to think about singing more, but being both the producer and singer-songwriter seemed crazy. Sure enough, Currents crept back into my life until I became obsessed.

Here was an incredible album, one that bursts at the seams with colour, made by an artist doing exactly what I want to do. Currents became my affirmation that changing who I am as an artist by using my voice could not only work, but lead to something amazing.

No one else could have made Currents. It’s so uniquely Tame Impala, and Kevin Parker the individual. To be the solo producer and singer-songwriter is such a high form of personal expression, the anti “design by committee” approach. Curiosity, a bit of ego, and a love for DIY guided my desire for the same individualistic approach in my own career.

Tame Impala – ‘Let It Happen’

Currents never left me. I had never heard anything quite like it. Sonically speaking, it’s incredible, and the producer in me couldn’t get enough. I researched and tried to find the elusive sweet thump of Kevin’s drums. They sounded live and human, while also hitting hard like digital drums. The synths were oozy and deep and the bass lines were always in the pocket. The production was a rich, decadent cake while the vocals draped themselves over everything like a thin veil of icing. I couldn’t get enough of his style, the combination of analogue meets digital, producer meets singer-songwriter, psychedelic rock meets pop.

The arrangements gripped me. Currents follows no rules or conventions for structure. They seemed all over the place, yet I always kept listening. I finally realised that the production follows the lyrics, making every song into less of a song and more of a journey.

When I hear, “Getting closer” during ‘The Moment’, it’s like those very words are stretching my hand towards something intangible that I so desperately want, only to take it away by a brief, calm interlude. Or the long, drawn out and hauntingly beautiful chorus of ‘Eventually’ that represents the dread of a breakup. Despite how amazing the production is, the lyrics drive the spaceship. I personally can get locked into rules but hearing them be broken on Currents in order to take the listener on a journey was liberating. I never approached my own music the same after this epiphany.

I’m brought back to the desert when I listen to the album and can see the tree-less mountains out the car window. I hear the gelatinous depth of ”Cause I’m a Man’ filling out the dusty emptiness. I can see the colour of ‘Reality in Motion’ paint the clear blue sky. I’m reminded of the excitement and possibility of that period in my life.

Currents has been a fountain of inspiration that broke down barriers in my mind. Most importantly, this album gave me the guts to use my voice and become a better artist.

Big Wild – ‘Feel Good’

Further Reading

Gorillaz Announce New Album ‘Cracker Island’, Share Tame Impala and Bootie Brown Collab

Confidence Man Enlist Tame Impala, CHAI, & More For ‘Re-Tilt’ Remix EP

Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker Joins The Wiggles On Stage For ‘Elephant’ & ‘Hot Potato’

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