Philadelphia based singer-songwriter, Steven Martinho, a.k.a Werwe holds true to his indie-pop acoustic characteristics with his latest full-length project Speed of Light. Werwe returns from a short-lived hiatus from his discography since his 2019 self-titled album.
Werwe peaks into and derives his musical inspiration from the musical geniuses and proficiently blends them in his unmistakable finesse. The intonations are minimal yet there is something upbeat and refined about them. In their latest 2021 album Speed of Light, he effortlessly encapsulates a perfect blend of modern-western composing and U.K pop sensibilities. This album is one that gradually grows into being infectious. It is difficult to get tired of it and you will often find yourself scurrying back to his discography.
The album’s infectious nature stems from its enticing and well-balanced sound, positive vibe and its meaningful lyrics. Most of the tracks in the album are very dynamic in nature, and it’s definitely not the kind of music you can jitterbug to. It is more suitable fo creative occupations like painting or writing. The mood of the album transitions slowly, but never contradicts the general direction in which the music flows. It can be defined as one continuous song that changes its tempo from time to time.
The ambiguity of the album is strange with one side being relaxing and calming and the other musically upbeat. The lyrics in the album are exactly the way it should be: Simple, but supporting the musical architecture and having an abstract story behind each song. Starting with the cheerful and dynamic tones in Otherside and Beyond, the album then shifts to melancholic notes in Livin Easy with notes sounding similar to ‘Inside of Love’ by Nada Surf. The band’s influence along with The Verve and Brian Jonestown Massacre is also reflected in the songs Bandaid Blue and Control.
In the song Summer Lady, the motives of solitude pour out in a goosebump-inducing finale as a tender female vocal. The crescendo then fades with vigorous drumming in the last song of the album Bandaid Blue, a contemplative and emotionally evoking album comes to an end with a calm.
Werwe’s latest project is a stellar piece of musical work that comes with its deep frequencies. Not only does the artist use a set of widely acclaimed formulas of the genres that he delves into, but also updates the styles of each of these genres with his own inputs — giving it the unique edge and selling point that differentiates his work from others operating in the circuit. Where Werwe decides to go from here is sure to be a journey to look forward to, and we are here to witness the process of his evolution.
We reached out to Werwe for his own inputs on his album and the future of his music. Here is how that went:
Congratulations on your latest album! How would you describe the album to someone listening to it for the first time, or to someone getting into your music fresh?
Thank you so much! I’ve been describing Speed of Light’s sound as a dark groove with indie pop elements. First time listeners will hear something familiar. They’ll hear a little Talking Heads-maybe a little Modest Mouse. I try to tell people that you’ll hear the influences but you’ll feel it more.
Describe to us your creative process. How did the tracks on Speed of Light come to be?
Speed of Light was an interesting record for me to make. I originally was going to call this record Western Lights and go the traditional midwest indie rock route. Sort of pick up where Red Lines off the Werwe self titled record dropped off. But thankfully I had the help of Shane Luckenbaugh, a friend of mine who plays in American Trappist and his own band Sleepmonster who engineered and produced this record.
We set out to do this record in September 2020. This was mid pandemic. Covid restrictions in Philadelphia were at its peak so there were no distractions from going out. There were no friends begging us to come to the bar. I really think that lended itself to this record.
A lot of the tracks on Speed of Light had the framework laid out with the exception of Control, and few track pieces like Speed of Light. I don’t write like a typical songwriter. I record parts into my phone, organize it, and I may sit on that part for a year before it fits with another part. I let it write itself until I let a producer like Shane come in and help piece together this unseamed dress of a song.
Some would say a recording engineer’s nightmare. I personally prefer to work that way and we really enjoyed making it.
Are there any particular musical influences that you look up to, and if so, how do they trickle down into your own discography?
I have always been a fan of 80’s soundtracks. John Carpenter and Alejandro Jodorowsky both come to mind. John would do these amazing soundscapes with synths and you could really hear the tape hiss. I love that. I thought it was so moody and fun. I wanted to bring that to the table. At the same time Jodorowsky would do the same thing but bring live percussive instruments to the table and bring this groove that worked so well over his movies, even in spite of how dark some parts can be.
So I land somewhere between that and T.Rex, The Flaming Lips, The Beatles, and the Talking Heads.
How would you say you have evolved musically since your first self-titled EP Werwe?
Evolution is funny to me. I feel like Speed of Light picks up where the Birthday EP left off. It wasn’t where I saw things going but I’m glad it did. I really leaned into the dark side of things and I’m happy with that.
We reviewed the album and wondered what’s next to come in your discography – How will Speed of Light be succeeded by a musical project? Will it be different to it? How would the creative processes differ from the previous work that you have done? Help us through what we should look forward to next!
Great question, Seriously. I don’t know where things are headed. In fact I think I might like to keep it that way. I like to keep a low expectation because I like surprises. Although I’ll say this. I think you’ll hear more tracks you can dance to. I like to make people move. My grandmother was always a good litmus test when it came to my music. She would hear it and say, “I can’t dance to it” or vice versa. That spoke volumes to me. She would feel music and not just listen to it. So I think I’ll continue down that path.