Thursday 25th May // The definition of ‘Wu Wei’ states that ‘Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.’ A fine example of a powerful artist name that flows so beautifully into the production style of Josh Masser, the artist behind the album ‘Automated Shadows‘. The release is an experimental, melodically driven exploration of innocence, connection, and the collective unconscious in the technological era. It takes inspiration from some dusty drum and bass, trip-hop, and garage as well as some psychedelic rock influences with substantial ambient and orchestral portions. We caught up with Josh to find out more of the story behind his alias Wu Wei.
Hey Josh, first off, where are you currently based?
I’m currently based in Humboldt County, California, which is about a 5 ½ hour’s drive north of the San Francisco Bay area, though I’ll be relocating this summer.
When was your first real exposure to music?
I’d say that my first real exposure to music that connects to my current musical endeavours would be seeing The Fellowship of the Ring back when it first came out. I was just about 10 years old then and absolutely fell in love with Howard Shore’s scoring (like so many before and after me). Shore’s score across the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy (particularly in the Fellowship) consists of some of the compositions that I study most when experiencing writer’s block.
When did you start writing and producing music?
I started writing in May of 2013, so that’s almost exactly 4 years ago now. I had been DJing for about a year before that.
What do you feel has been your biggest inspiration on your musical journey so far?
Musically I draw inspiration from all different types of sources such as August Wilhemson, Sigur Rós, Emancipator, Culprate, Synkro, and Sorrow, to name a few. Outside of musical inspirations, I tend to be moved and accordingly inspired by suffering and its relationship to consciousness and evolution.
How about your proudest experience?
I suppose completing Automated Shadows. It’s the longest release I’ve ever put together, the first full-length album that I’ll be releasing, and what I think is my best music. I’ve spent a huge amount of time and energy putting it together over the last year and it definitely represents the coming together of a lot of hard work and studying.
Just a couple weeks after Automated Shadows is released I’ll be performing at the Untz Festival in Mariposa, California as part of the ShadowTrix Music showcase. After that though I’m pretty excited to take some time away from playing shows to continue focusing on my writing and producing.
Favorite record right now?
It’s a toss-up between Sufjan Steven’s ‘Carrie’ and Lowell and Bon Iver’s ’22 a million’
Favorite record of all time?
Tool’s 10,000 Days.
Tell us a little about your latest album release ‘Automated Shadows’ and the concept behind the music?
Automated Shadows is a concept album exploring the idea of merging organic and artificial intelligences, both in a figurative and a literal sense. The ‘shadows’ portion of the title is a reference to Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow, or the aspect of our minds that lives outside what our conscious mind is aware of. As technology continues to dominate a greater amount of our conscious minds, it will undoubtedly continue to have an effect on our ability to cognize and reconcile the content of our shadows. And according to Jung, one can either reconcile the content of one’s shadow or be consumed and destroyed by it. This dynamic fascinated me and led me to contemplate on the idea of what the content of an AI’s shadow aspect might look like and how that content might compare to a future human intelligence who’s mind is dominated by technology or even merged with it.
How do you feel about the project overall?
Well when you work on a project for long enough you get used to it not being finished, so in a lot of ways it’s hard for me to relate to the release as anything other than a work in progress. That being said I’m very excited to share it and definitely proud of what I’ve created through it.
Are you set to collaborate with any other producers in the near future?
I have a few collaborations in the works, some of my favorites are with SuDs and Moon Frog.
What’s your musical goal for the next few years?
Generally my goal is always to practice and grow, but specifically, I’d really like to be able to organize a tour performing a concept album from front to back with a live band.
Any life goals?
I’m a passionate supporter of Animal Rights and Climate justice, so I’d love to benefit those causes through music. I’m also currently preparing to apply to law schools to specifically pursue that end through environmental law.
Share with us some of your top picks. Which music would you love for us to go and check out?
I’d really encourage people to go check out Wardruna’s newest release Runaljod – Ragnarok. Wardruna has an incredibly powerful and unique sound: seriously great song writing there.
Has there ever been a piece of music or an experience that shaped you to become the musician you are today?
I know that I wouldn’t be the musician I am today without Tool, just from the shear amount of time that I’ve spent researching their music and listening through their discography. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Emancipator though, it was really his music that first showed me how powerfully emotive electronic music could be.
Check out the latest album release ‘Automated Shadows’ below or download the album for FREE here.