The Secretly Canadian Newsletter

Eaves Wilder began songwriting around the age of eight, harnessing an early obsession with ‘60s Motown records and the left-field pop of Lily Allen. Wilder’s inspirations are endless, but it was the riot grrl movement that first blew the doors open for her, proving what was possible if she could just write with honesty and power, letting her supposed imperfections shine. “Hookey,” Wilder’s forthcoming debut EP, details her story so far. Hidden behind dreamy shoegaze guitars and delivered in Wilder’s sweet voice, her lyrics are honest, direct, and deceptively cutting.

Often finding herself isolated in her room growing up, Wilder found solace in a Kathleen Hanna quote about uniting the girls making music alone in their bedrooms, and wrote “Connect The Rooms” around it. “I think that resonated with me so much because of my childhood. I’ve spent so much time alone in my room, making secret songs that I wouldn’t show to people, in a secret voice I was too embarrassed to show.” It was artists like The Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, the lisp in Grimes’ music, and Kathleen Hanna’s subversive vocal approach that allowed Wilder to become more comfortable with her own voice, and ultimately find its strengths.

At only 12 years old, she found herself losing her identity to a struggle with anorexia, and spent most of her early teenage years frequenting doctors offices and hospital wards. “I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I’ve always imagined myself singing, but I never sang so I don’t really know how that worked,” she explains. “Music was always my identity and then when you’re ill, illness becomes your identity. You just lose value in yourself. It was more of just a coping mechanism than a hobby at that time. And then when I started trying to get better, it was kind of cool because there was just nothing to lose.”

Delving into her experience with the British mental health service CAMHS on “Are You Diagnosed?,” she sings of feeling a need to play the system in order to get the help she needed. It’s a tongue-in-cheek dig and a deliberate de-romanticisation of mental illness. “I hate the whole sad girl vibe,” Wilder says of the culture around mental illness. “I don’t want to romanticise anything because there’s nothing romantic about eating disorders. There’s nothing nice about it. So I do want to talk about it a lot, but I try and make sure in my songs to make it sound pretty unappealing, ‘cause I’ve definitely been fooled.”

Now fully recovered, Wilder confesses anger towards her former self and her previous desire to take up less space. She wants to write songs for girls like the early-teenage Eaves: “I write songs imagining the person who’s listening to them, which is always a quite sad, lonely 14 year old girl. I want her, whoever she is, to listen and be like, that is exactly what I’m going through and this person understands, and I’m not alone.”

“I Stole Your Jumper” is filled with a similar frustration. Backed by driving reverbed guitars and dense verses, it’s her version of a riot grrl punk track, where she seeks revenge on a boy by taking an item of his clothing. “I kept on trying to write these really angry, violent songs, and it just was cringe because it wasn’t me,” she explains. “I hated this boy so much. I wanted to kill him, I wanted to punch him in the face, but all I did was steal something of his to be like ‘oh, I’ve got one up on you.’”

“Morning Rain” follows; a slower, more melancholy track about having to go back to the place where she no longer felt safe. Wilder admits she struggled in school because she found it boring, and hated someone else being in control of her day. She’d prefer to be at home making music.

The bright, hopeful end of the EP demonstrates the kind of person Eaves Wilder is today; dreamy, giggly, but more importantly, happier. “I really want to make looking and being happy seem cool,” she says. “I spent too long boxing myself in to a wispy, feminine look, but that’s just not me. I feel so much cooler being happy and messy and doing what I like.” And there, ultimately, is where Wilder’s power comes back to front and center. Because however fun, funny, and addictive these songs may be, it’s their joy that defies expectations, and brings Wilder back toward a future that is hers to write.


I Stole Your Jumper

Are You Diagnosed?

Morning Rain

Connect The Rooms