Updated: Apr 29
It's always amazing to stumble across music that defies categorisation. Artists that can really take a wide range of influences and blend them into one zesty recipe always excite me. Memphis band Oakwalker has managed to genre-bend with the best of them on their newest single "Days \ Move."
Oakwalker is Victoria Dowdy on guitar/vocals and Ethan Baker on violin. Together with a rotating cast of session and live musicians from the Memphis sprawl, the band creates a sound that is simultaneously twangy and soulful. Though the band formed as the pandemic ground everything to a halt, they still managed to play the Music Export Memphis showcase at the Folk Alliance International Folk Unlocked festival via livestream. Victoria was also one of five women musicians mentioned in the We Are Memphis Music article “Bridging The Gap: 5 Contemporary Women Artists for Fans of Memphis Music Legends” for 2021 Women’s History Month.
And now, the band is back with a new single "Days \ Move." On top of a soul-infused bassline and stabs of organ, Dowdy's catchy melodies and tongue-twister lyrics take the forefront. Baker's heartfelt violin keeps the song moving, weaving harmonies and little solos around the band's steady backbeat. The song is equal parts White Stripes and Aretha Franklin. This band understands the fine lines between rock and R&B, and they deliberately look for the gray area. The place where sounds meet and meld and blend together.
"Days \ Move" is one of the songs that will reveal new sounds and layers on repeated listens. It's chock full of interesting sounds, from the fuzzed out bass to the fervent violin and back to Dowdy's incredible voice. The single is a gift that keeps on giving!
Check out the single, and stick around for an exclusive interview with the band below!
You've said that this is a song about waiting. Did the pandemic inspire that theme?
Well I think the early pandemic kind of put everybody on the same page, and lots of people were confronting the same tense feelings together, all at once. In that sense it definitely crystalised the theme.
What's it like to collaborate with a wide range of musicians? How do you find a balance between individual playing styles and your creative vision?
It’s a tremendous amount of fun because when musicians feel comfortable inputting their own stylistic choices you get to watch the song evolve into something completely new right before your eyes. It’s a tradeoff, you lose some of your original idea, but you fight for certain moments you care about and otherwise trust the instincts and tastes of your peers. We have been able to make so many friends through playing with traveling bands as well. With every new musician we meet and play with we grow personally and help others grow as well. The Memphis music scene has been great for fostering that sort of environment.
Were there any artists that directly influenced the sound of "Days \ Move?" Anything you were listening to at the time that you hear in the final mix?
There weren’t any direct inspirations but I was listening to a lot of stylish or moody music. 21 Pilots, Gorillaz, Atmosphere, stuff like that. There was one moment at the end of the song when we launch into the last verse that we wanted to sound like the distortion on the guitar from Creep by Radiohead.
Does this single mean more music is on the way?
Absolutely. We recorded an EP at Sun Studio last year, this being just one single from that session, along with our last single Future Lover. After we release the rest of the EP this summer, we hope to put out an album within the next year. In the meantime, there is one other single we have worked on.
Listen to 'Days \ Move in full here: