Ian Wilson

Ian Wilson

 Chicago, Illinois, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

Classically deviant piano rock with a folktronic timbre – sharp songwriting that employs synthesizers and loops instead of acoustic guitars.

Biography

Ian Wilson is a keyboard-based loop artist from Chicago, filling the vacancy between singer-songwriter and band with piano-centric electronica and a lyricism both dark and humorous.

In 2008, Ian released his debut studio recording, The Crater EP, a fusion of classically deviant piano and wry, good-natured brooding. The influence of the queer music canon—artists like Tori Amos and the Magnetic Fields—is easily heard in The Crater, and the tight-knit queer music scene in Chicago was fast to bring Ian into the fold. The Crater earned recommendations from the Windy City Times and EDGE Chicago, the nationally-featured Feast of Fun podcast, and a place on Outvoice.net’s Top 10 LGBT Charts. But to resist the cabaret labels associated with “gay boy + piano,” he introduced a loop pedal to his keyboards, following the influence of prototypical loop artists such as Owen Pallett, Andrew Bird, and Zoe Keating. Like this new breed of singer-songwriters, Ian had a classical training in theory and composition to draw upon, enabling one performer to produce the same fullness of sound as an entire band.

Following The Crater’s release, Ian spent two years with Canasta, an orchestral-pop sextet and one of Chicago’s best-known bands. Ian’s numerous performances with Canasta included a slot at the CMJ Music Marathon, live radio and TV performances on WBEZ’s Eight-Forty Eight and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, and frequent shows with nationally touring acts like White Rabbits, Hello Seahorse! and Clem Snide. Ian was one of three new members that joined in the spring of 2008, and the dramatic lineup change evolved into a burlier and more eclectic incarnation of ork-pop, culminating in the band’s second LP, The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather (RWIM Chicago, 2010). The album was released in May 2010 to two sold-out shows at Schubas (Chicago, IL) and a wave of critical superlatives including “one of the best Chicago albums of the year” (Matt Pais, Chicago Red Eye) and “so perfect…that you’ll swear you’ve heard it before” (Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader).

Always the social butterfly, Ian can also be seen in the local performing arts scene. Most recently he has appearaed as a guest recording and performing artist for Chicago Tap Theater and in the pit band for Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, one of the city’s largest community arts organizations. He teaches keyboards, voice, and songwriting at the Chicago School of Rock, the nation’s premiere educational institution for the corruption of well-mannered and quiet children.

Lyrics

Andrew

Written By: Ian Wilson

There's nothing good about you at all, and I like it.
There's nothing good about you at all, and I like it.
There's nothing worse than all of the above,
nothing unrequited I can think of,
you're a fictional boy and I've fallen in love, and I like it.

Now what I like is your limited range
and you weren't written realistically, were you?
It's not that I'm trying to change you
but I've a favor to ask you, Andrew:

Get rid of your friends, they're just in the way.
Get rid of your job, it's alright I can pay
for you to move out of that boho garage,
for you to get rid of that entourage
and get real with me.

There's nothing real about you, and that's fantastic.
I haven't stopped thinking 'bout you, and I'm ecstatic.
I only get you for an hour at a time
but now I've made you mine-all-mine
and all I have to do is press rewind, and I like it.

Now what I like is your limited range
and you weren't written realistically, were you?
It's not that I'm trying to change you
but I've a favor to ask you, Andrew:

Get rid of your friends, they're just in the way.
Get rid of your job, it's alright I can pay
for you to move out of that boho garage,
for you to get rid of that entourage
and get real with me.

I sped the playback to a blur
'cause I liked you more in characiture.
I found it easier to catch
your better side in thumbnail sketches.
See, I drew them all, they're underneath
a stack of stolen DVDs,
but I only kept the episodes
where you took off most of your clothes,
it's not as if you'll ever know.
It's not as if you'll ever mind
and that's why I like it,
that's why...

There's nothing bad about this for me, cause I like it.
There's nothing bad about this for me, 'cause I like it.
If you want what's good for me
indulge my masochistic tendencies
and go and buy me a bigger TV, 'cause I like it.

The Crater

Written By: Ian Wilson

Once, when, after the ocean
had turned into the moon,
Before the dinosaurs turned
into fossils, then into toys and into cartoons

There was a trajectory
of heavenly trash cans
a simple calculation
in astronomer's plans;

I was a comet
on a traceable path,
oh, if they just had the math
that we have eons later...

Now I'm a crater.

I remember the lizards who
killed each other for food.
Most of them turned to crude
and now you're using their oil,

but you imagine them royal
'cause their bones were so tall.
But I recall tyrants
who couldn't evolve.

You moved them to museums
to live in the shrines
to an ignorant time
before they found the equator,

But I am a crater
a record of impact
proof of the fact that
everything changed.

And you remember the 50s, now,
as an era characterized
by a boom in the babies,
by highways and TVs on a wonderful rise.

Well I saw history reprised
by new dinosaurs
who waged a Cold War
while you sang Buddy Holly--

You rounded up all the commies
all the homos and atheists,
any left-minded artists,
and you branded them traitors.

Well I am a crater
a record of motion
the moon as the ocean
when it wanted to fly.

And you expect to see progress
like it's happening faster,
and you see me and my kind
like we caused your disasters,

but was I the phone line
your secrets were heard through?
Was I the sparrow
that started the bird flu?

I saw the last seconds
of your Golden Age
and from what I could gauge,
there, I did you a favor.

I am a crater
a record of impact
proof of the fact
that everything changed,

and I am a crater
a record of motion
the moon as the ocean
when it wanted to fly.

Inanimate Objects

Written By: Ian Wilson

You're not good with people.
In a crowd, you're alone.
The communion you share
with the couch or the chair
is deeper than you've had with me, or
with him, or your cell phone.

You're hardly empathic.
Your best friends are inert.
The closest you get
to having a pet
are the bugs in your houseplants,
churning the dirt.

No, you're not good with people.
You're not good with machines.
But you have a way with
inanimate objects
that I've never seen.

And you've got quite a forearm.
You're handy with tools.
But this talent of yours
for breaking through doors,
well, it's kind of not cool.

And there's no point in talking
'cause you're not there at all,
like your head has flown off
with that bottle you tossed
and broke against the wall.

And I want to know--
I want you to tell me,
did you have a way with
inanimate objects
with your lovers before me?

Oh, you like your illusions, don't you,
the mystery about you.
Well, it's barely arcane,
but it does entertain,
and it's hard to see through.

So pull out your rabbits,
your boxes and saws,
and cut me in half
'cause it's all for a laugh
and a bow and applause.

You're not good with people,
and you don't need to tell me.
So just go have your way with
inanimate objects,
and do it without me.

Creative Writing Workshop

Written By: Ian Wilson

I'm a little elitist, I know,
I'm a bit of a geek.
Doesn't mean I'm a loner, and it
doesn't make me a freak.

But I'm a bit of a shut-in, sometimes,
I'm a bit of a nerd.
Don't have much but an aptitude
for the written word.

I'm a bachelor of arts,
a master of none,
I'm a jack of all trades,
except one.

I thought my stupid letters
could make you change your mind.
After all, the only thing I've
learned is how to write.

But you were going to leave me,
and I wanted you to stay.
You see? It sounds too simple,
too trite and too cliche,
and not in that clever, self-aware
ironic way.

I'm a bachelor of arts,
a master of none,
I'm a jack of all trades,
except one.

I tried to say it in a way you'd understand; I always failed.
I wrote a play, my actors sucked.
I formed a band, and they went to jail.
I wrote a book, you called it turgid,
my workshop called it poorly worded.
I wrote a column that was published in the Reader,
it was hard to make it personal, it was only about theater.
I wrote a poem that won a poetry award,
you said you really liked it; I could tell that you were bored,
and nobody reads poetry so don't pretend you weren't.
I built a house and it got burnt.

I wish I had some useful talents, but I don't.

But I believed I knew the words
that would be written on your heart
when
I became a pen
and you became parchment.
In four whole years that never
happened.

Discography

The Crater EP (2008)

Set List

A typical 45-minute set consists mainly of original songs with an occasional rearranged and/or ironic cover thrown in for fun. Originals incorporate influences from the alt-rock piano world, such as Tori Amos and Regina Spektor, to other solo loop artists like Final Fantasy and Patrick Wolf.

A sample 45-minute set list:
Frat Boy
Andrew
You and the Woods
Mies van der Rohe
What Happens When the Heart Stops (cover, The Frames)
Inanimate Objects
Creative Writing Workshop
Nitrogen
The Crater