What Goes On: Elsewise

Following their release show at Photo City Music Hall, we caught up with Rochester's psych wanderers Elsewise, who take us through the making of their self-titled debut EP, expanding their sound and instilling a community environment with their house shows.

Photo by Tosh Koltay

Rochester-based psych-pop band Elsewise is a newer band in the city, but no strangers to music. Made up of a group of multi-instrumentalists that include Noah Wickman, aka Wasted Paper Project (vocals, guitar, piano, synths), Halie Washburn (vocals, flute), James Gardella (bass guitar, synths), Aidan Shur (lead guitar) and Jack VanKouwenberg (drums). Coming out of college recently with some members earning music production degrees, which explains the precision and technicality of the group, Elsewise has collected equipment in a shared home in Rochester where they rehearse, record music, and often host house shows with fellow local acts like Free Casino, Luna Sol Child, and Kitchen. While live shows helped develop their sound, Elsewise had a productive year in 2021 releasing their self-titled debut EP that's comprised of six tracks that soar far beyond its jangly guitars and far-reaching rhythms.

Following their release show at Photo City Music Hall, we caught up with the psych-pop band who share a glimpse of their origins, how they cultivated their sound and what goes on at

their community-driven house shows.

Paperface Zine: Hey congrats on the debut EP! Tell me, how did you guys form Elsewise?

Elsewise: We formed about six years ago. Most of us went to high school together and really started working on music projects from late high school through college. In college, four of us were in a project and it never really took off the way we wanted it to. After that, we formed Elsewise. We wanted to change our style and sort of rebrand ourselves. You could say it was a natural transition.

How did you come up with the name Elsewise?

I had this moon phase app and every month, like they would send notifications when it was the full moon, however long it takes for a full moon to come around. And one time they just sent this poem and I read it and it really struck me. After I cleared the notification, I couldn't find the poem but I messaged the developer and he sent it to me. The title of the poem was Elsewise and I thought it was perfect. It really embodied how I felt about our music.

I love that you guys cover King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's "Trap Door" at your live shows! Tell me, who are some of your biggest musical influences?

We are all influenced by pretty much everything across the spectrum, however some big influences include Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Hiatus Kaiyote.

How would you guys describe the sound of Elsewise?

We wanted to make something that's accessible to people and musicians that are interested in a wide variety of genres. We wanted to make something that would be eclectic. We used to say that our music doesn't really fit a genre, it’s more of a vibe. We have made our music to fit a specific feeling we are trying to capture. We don't pigeonhole ourselves in one genre.

What was the recording process like for the debut EP?

Well, we don't have a very particular process. We record as we write and we don't really have a huge bank of songs. Maybe one in five songs we write, we fully record maybe one in four we perform live. We see what we can come up with and stick to what sounds good and rewriting anywhere that's necessary. Often, we try to write songs from a certain point of view, like a cowboy and see what we can tie together. We're slowly building a lore, like a little universe within our music.

You host a lot of house shows, so take me through the environment of these shows and what significance they hold for you.

We hold house shows mostly because we have the equipment and the know-how. We all share a house that has equipment we have collected since college. With the pandemic too, it's hard to find live venues to play. House shows and the underground scene lend itself to us to find our audience better. Live venues don't always mix genres of a line-up well and when we host a show, we book all the band's ourselves. So we figured we should start having shows here because its fun. The first house show we had, we got like 30 people and then the next one we got more.

What do you hope listeners take away from your music?

We just want them to have a good time. We try to capture an emotional reaction and embody a different environment in each song. You know, music is what the listener gets from it. As long as people like it, and it strikes them in some sort of way.

Elsewise is out now. Stream the new EP below.