Tone Talk with Anne Buckle aka WILDWOOD

Photo by Brandon Metcalf
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As a human, I’m Anne Buckle; as an artist, I’m WILDWOOD. The name WILDWOOD comes from an old Carter Family song, “The Wildwood Flower,” which was the first song I learned to play on guitar when I was about seven years old. I’m originally from Peachtree City, GA, but I moved to Nashville nine years ago to pursue a career as a songwriter, musician, and artist.

In my time in Nashville so far, I’ve been lucky enough to get to play local venues like the Bluebird Café and the Grand Ole Opry, to have songs cut by other artists including American Idol’s David Archuleta and Marisa McKaye, and to have toured as a fiddle player with Augustana opening for The Chicks’ 2016 world tour.

As WILDWOOD, I’ve released half a dozen singles that have been streamed over two million times. This past year, I recorded my debut record, which is a double album with two musically contrasting sides: side a: the Wild side (a collection of songs that have more edgy, pop production), and side b: the Woods (songs that are more stripped-down, acoustic). the Woods EP is kicking things off this summer, with five songs coming out by August. The first single off the project was a song called “Firefly,” and it came out with the fireflies in June.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I’ve always defined tone as “quality of sound,” and for me, my favorite quality is a blend of brightness and warmth. In classical vocal music, there’s a term for this that I learned as a music major in college — chiaroscuro, which literally means light and dark. I love to aim for the perfect balance of the two, no matter what stringed instrument I’m on — and with vocals too.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
On acoustic guitar, I like to trade off between Taylor GS Mini’s, my 1972 Martin 000-18, and my husband’s 1955 Gibson for live shows. In the studio, I’ll pick up my Ibanez hollow body for textures in tracks and a custom Tipton Telecaster (passed down to me from an uncle) for vibey layers. I’m pretty simple with pedals — normally I just rely on my BOSS tuner for live shows, and then I use a wide range of digital plugins for amps and effects in the studio. 

What about strings?
Favorite guitar string brand is Elixir, but I’ll be honest… I rarely change my strings! I don’t know why, but I’ve always been that way on all my stringed instruments — violin, viola, mandolin, banjo, and the guitars. I guess I have a hard time letting things go (even old strings).

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
Not really a technique, but I’m obsessed with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 mic these days! It’s a modeling mic, which means it can basically model a variety of other classic microphones — all digitally in post! It’s mostly used for vocals, but I’ve been using it on guitar and violin/viola for this new record, and I’m loving the tone I’m getting. There’s so much freedom in editing to alter the sound, and that’s what’s made it my go-to mic. 

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?
The first guitar lick I was obsessed with was the intro to “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. My cousin Jerry Hensley was in his band as lead guitar player for a while, and he used to play it for me on acoustic guitar when I was little, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Jerry taught me how to play that lick when I was about 12 years old, and it still brings me joy every time I play it. 

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Working in the music industry, especially on the creative side, is a grind. It can (and likely will) break your heart at some point — it’s certainly broken mine more than a few times. Being talented, hard-working, good-looking, or smart doesn’t guarantee anything in this field. At the end of the day, “making it” comes down to persistence, grit, and … luck. That’s been the hardest lesson for me to learn, and nine years into my time in Nashville, I’m still trying to come to terms with it. I try to do my best and work my smartest and hardest, but ultimately, have grace on myself as well, knowing luck is a big part of it.

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