Last week, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter wens released her fourth EP, the sparsely orchestrated alien tears. Featuring singles “4ever” and “breakfast at a funeral,” alien tears is the culmination of wens’ most intricate songwriting yet. With its space-inspired instrumentation that evokes the project’s namesake, alien tears is a standout from Wens so far.
Staged Haze and Wens discuss Portishead, Tik Tok, and the far-away intimacy of the new EP below:
Staged Haze: Let’s start with the EP name, alien tears. When did the connection between these feelings of heartbreak and the extra-terrestrial start? Can you walk through how those two ideas intertwine?
Wens: After writing the song alien tears, I felt like it perfectly encapsulated what I had been feeling at that exact moment. I knew I wanted it to be the title track the second I wrote it. I was basically trying to find a more poetic way to talk about heartbreak, grief and sadness. When I stumbled on the phrase “alien tears” I was like THAT’S IT!!
Like a lot of people, the emotional rollercoaster I experienced during 2020 felt so foreign to me. I found myself crying all the fricken time and not really knowing why. They weren’t just normal tears of sadness they were different. Alien tears became my way of describing this confusing other worldly sense of grief. Navigating heartbreak, a pandemic, existential thoughts questioning the meaning of anything. That to me is alien tears.
Staged Haze: Do you think the EP sounds sort-of extraterrestrial? How do you balance the intimacy of songwriting with a “far away” sound?
Wens: We were constantly trying to add alien-esque noises all across the songs. Especially in “alien tears,” “portishead,” and “ready, set go!” I’m really into production that’s super texture-based. Less about doing the most and more about having really interesting sonic moments. I think having my vocals always at the forefront of the songs always allows for this intimate feeling even if the musical bed feels so far away. I really like the contradiction of that.
Staged Haze: Has songwriting always been a tool for self-discovery? Is vulnerability necessary for you to make a song you’re happy with?
Wens: Now so more than ever. I used to write just for the sake of writing. I think as I’ve gained more life experience, it’s become more of a tool for self-discovery for sure. I need to really whole-heartedly believe what I’m saying to want to write a song about it now, otherwise I just don’t see the point. I do think it allows for the most genuine work as well. People can hear when something is coming from an honest place.
Staged Haze: The Portishead shoutout on the EP is great, the music definitely takes cues from their style of trip-hop. Do you often associate artists or albums with specific relationships?
Wens: Oh for sureeee. I think when you’re a fan of music, when you start to get romantically involved with someone you slowly cross reference your musical taste. I’m always wanting to discover music so I love hearing what other people listen to. There are definitely some songs or specific albums that the second I hear will bring me back to a specific time with someone. Whether I like it or not.
Staged Haze: What albums were you listening to while making alien tears? Do you think you can hear how that music influenced your process?
Wens: I know for a fact I was listening to Radiohead, specifically In Rainbows a lot a lot a lot. They’re kind of my go to when I’m feeling sad. Also was listening to a lot of Blonde, Dijon, FKA Twigs, Lana, Kanye, Portishead… I definitely can draw some connections between the worlds. It’s all pretty dark sounding and I think alien tears ended up somewhere in that space too.
Staged Haze: You’ve built up a sizeable platform via social media, especially Tik Tok. Can you talk about what it’s like to come to these platforms as an artist and try and connect with audience members? Do you find it frustrating? Exciting?
Wens: For a while I found it to be incredibly overwhelming. I think if I didn’t have to have social media I wouldn’t, but it’s really tricky nowadays to be a new artist and gain fans without using the tools technology has to offer. The second I changed my outlook on it and just started to see it for what it was its honestly become really fun for me. I enjoy Tik Tok the most now out of all the social platforms. It feels the most genuine.
The other day I got a message from someone being like “I followed you because you posted a video kicking a rock that I thought was hilarious and then I realized you make music and I did a deep dive and now I’m obsessed with your music you just gained a new fan” people saying stuff like that makes it worth it to me.
Staged Haze: This EP has been in the works for a while, with some of the songs like “4ever” coming out last year. How do you feel having the full project out? What’s next for you? What are your goals for the rest of this year?
Wens: It really feels like the start of a new chapter that I’m so excited about. I finally feel like I put out a body of work that accurately represents me from start to finish. On that tip, I definitely have a lot more music in the works that I’m so excited to share. I’m going to start playing some shows again here and there. My main goal is to get out on the road and tour hopefully open for someone!
alien tears is out now.