Josiah Wise is serpentwithfeet. Wise grew up in a middle-class black neighbourhood in Baltimore, entrenched in the evangelical world of a large non-denominational church. In that world, the church and all it’s activities become every part of your existence. From weekend services, to weekday gatherings, and in the case of Wise, involvement in the large church choir. In this world, the choir adds an important sense of drama, it’s camp in a way – theatrical and over-the-top and utterly performative. In that world, the choir helps elevate you into another place, transcending what is around you both physically and mentally.
This same sort of transcendence is at the core of Wise’s work as serpentwithfeet, although the character delivering it is very different from that little choir boy.
serpentwtihfeet started making waves in 2016 with the release of his EP, blisters. The album combined Wise’s epic voice with deep tracks that steamroll forward in a heavy, but profoundly beautiful way. It’s honest and real but carried with a theatrical tone that somehow seems to strip even more layers off to reveal an even truer beauty.
bless ur heart is the first release from serpentwithfeet’s first full length album that’s due for release in June. The starting point for the track feels similar to the tone of blisters, as though that EP has become a core thread that his music now emerges from. However as the track unfolds, a fuller, sumptuous sound begins to shape. The richness of Wise’s dedication to classical music and his background in an elevating choir sound, underpin the entire track, but with collaborators such as Clams Casino, the song seems to move in a much easier way. This however, never detracts from his lyrical delivery, one that hypnotises you as you listen to it more and more.
serpentwithfeet’s full length album, soil, is out in June.