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Art Wilde: “Stop talking down to yourself”

Mad Honey Records and I are working on the More Love Movement. It’s a grassroots initiative that aims to build a community of expressive healing. We want to create a culture where artists and fans can come together to mend and evolve together. There’s been such a great divide propelled by the old recording industry. […]

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Mad Honey Records and I are working on the More Love Movement. It’s a grassroots initiative that aims to build a community of expressive healing. We want to create a culture where artists and fans can come together to mend and evolve together. There’s been such a great divide propelled by the old recording industry. We want to bridge it with love.


As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Art Wilde.

Art Wilde was made from the ashes of a nomad. Born in Nepal, he was raised in a household that discouraged any semblance of artistic inclination. In spite of it all, Wilde fell in love with music — hard. After two life-altering earthquakes, he found himself in the birthplace of jazz. He began utilizing his skills busking in the streets of New Orleans and soon developed himself as a “sideman”, gracing prestigious venues such as the Jazz Museum and the Lakefront Arena. He appeared on community radio stations including WWOZ, WAMF, and Crescent City Radio, and humbly received both the Brumat Award and the Gregerico Frederico Award for his outstanding dedication to the music community.

Prior to the release of his debut album Learn To Swim, Wilde released the lead single “Hot Water” which quickly gained attention from fans garnering 93,000+ streams in its first few weeks of release. As the solo artist for Mad Honey Records, Wilde intends to use his artistry as a medium to heal people who seek their messiahs in music.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thanks for having me! I grew up in the third world. My parents saw a lot of struggle in Nepal but they made sure we received a proper education. They placed heavy emphasis on academia…they saw it as the ticket out. I was “supposed to” become a doctor. So naturally, as I dove deeper into the arts, there was resistance and backlash.

I had to practice in secrecy…borrowing instruments and ghetto-rigging broken ones. I didn’t have access to proper resources. Moreover, we had regular government-mandated power outages called “load-shedding” that peaked at 12–16 hours a day. We were literally in the dark. Since I couldn’t afford lessons, there was a lot of trial and error.

Also, I grew up during the Civil War. It started before I was born and lasted a decade. I’ve seen schools shut down due to rampant bombings. As a kid, I didn’t understand it. My school bus got burnt down. Tear gas in our homes. My mother was scared to let us leave the house. Afterward, there was a confused sense of false peace. A lot of residual civil unrest. Then, we got hit with two devastating earthquakes. This pushed me to move across the world to New Orleans. Alone. I was eighteen.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Music saved my life. The sound of the speakers always helped me heal. However, there was this disconnect between what I heard and what I wanted to hear. So, I started writing and performing very young. My family always told me that it was just a hobby…a phase. I never told them otherwise. I didn’t think of it as pursuing a career. I just wanted to be me. This was all in Nepal while I was still a teen and the newfound pocket money was a plus. I did everything from spoken word to death metal. It took me from coffee shops and auditoriums to festival grounds.

In New Orleans, I had enrolled to study computer science like an obedient child of color. I was working as a barista and hated my life. So, I quit my job and started busking in the vibrant streets of the French Quarter. Without the shelter of a stage, my guitar and I quickly learned how to be vulnerable in a sea of tourists. I was soon welcomed by bands and put into bars and clubs…way before I was old enough to drink. We went on to play historic venues and radio shows. Then, I was offered a jazz scholarship at my alma mater. I haven’t looked back since.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

This takes place at a late-night jam session. The late legend Ellis Marsalis had just played a jaw-dropping show. After the set, it’s usually just us kids left messing around. This time, however, members of Ellis’s band decided to stay. I absolutely had to jump in for a tune but I didn’t have my guitar! Thankfully, jams are friendly and I borrowed one but it didn’t have a strap! So, I decided to sit down on the floor, with my legs crossed, in the middle of the stage. The

phenomenal Ashlin Parker notices me taking a solo like a funky yogi and starts cracking up. Here’s the crazy part, he then decides to come and sit beside me! And we improvise the craziest ending to “All The Things You Are”.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I call it the reverse double booking. It was one of my first shows as a young bandleader. I was so anxious to score the gig that I ended up hiring two bands for it when the budget only called for one. After a few embarrassing phone calls, both outfits dropped out. So, I had to put a trio together a day before the show. The lesson is simple: Don’t do too much. It was fun though.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

My baby right now is my debut album “Learn to Swim”. I moved to L.A last year to get into the recording industry. I found myself wandering aimlessly. I kept thinking about all these ideas I have and how I just needed to find someone who could bring them to life. Then Kobe happened. I found myself thinking, “this isn’t what he would do”. So, I got into the lab and started to learn.

The project started in an abandoned church in DTLA. Then, COVID happened and I found myself in Colorado where I finished it in an unfinished basement. The album represents how I’ve come to look at life. It exists in a constant state of flow. It adapts to each vessel and shapes our mindscape. Life is water. This record is an effort to represent its fluidity.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I feel like behind the scenes, the industry is diverse. However, the spotlight is disproportionate. I’ve seen many technical assistants and supporting casts that are POC…not many headliners.

Here’s why we need more:

  1. It helps impressionable children find a sense of belonging.
  2. It brings jobs and revenue to underfunded minority communities.
  3. It helps people of different origins better understand each other.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”?

  1. Practice with a metronome
  2. The vanity metrics don’t matter
  3. Stop talking down to yourself.
  4. Don’t take life too seriously
  5. You’ll be fine.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

  1. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Strive for excellence and not perfection.
  3. Be patient but stop waiting around.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (or too proud)
  5. Support other people!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Actually, Mad Honey Records and I are working on the More Love Movement. It’s a grassroots initiative that aims to build a community of expressive healing. We want to create a culture where artists and fans can come together to mend and evolve together. There’s been such a great divide propelled by the old recording industry. We want to bridge it with love.

Music isn’t just a commodity, it’s something we need. It adds value to our lives. So, why not make the process easier? We’re trying to raise a humble 2020 by the end of 2020. The funds will help us spread awareness. People keep talking about what would happen if you supported local artists. Well, we’re doing it. If you want to help…Welcome to The Mad Mafia.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Brian Seeger, Mentor Extraordinaire. Few people care so deeply about helping you grow. He is extremely insightful and brutally honest. I once asked him about my short-comings and he painted the most accurate picture of my career. “You keep diving in the deep end. On one hand, it’s kind of cool. On the other hand, you’re doing a lot of this *arms flailing*.”

As someone who has almost drowned, I assure you that he’s right. It made me take a deep look inside. In retrospect, this was probably an early pre-conception for “Learn to Swim”.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This is from Kamasi Washington, “Be stubborn with your dream, but flexible with how you get there”. There have been times in my life where I’ve wanted very specific things: landing the perfect gig, getting into my dream school, blasé blasé. Things have a funny way of falling apart and an even funnier way of falling in place. If I had gotten that gig, I would’ve never written my favorite single. If I got into that school, I would’ve never released it on Spotify.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Anderson Paak. He had a working-class come-up. He lost it all when he lost his job. Then, he fell back, recovered, and established himself as a session musician before evolving into the Grammy-Award winning artist he is now. I have unbelievable respect for that kind of hustle.

Artistically, he’s the best performer I’ve ever witnessed. I saw him at Champions Square. It was so powerful that I think I’m still a little traumatized (In a good way haha). One of my friends actually passed out from a heat stroke.

People don’t know this, but he’s of Asian descent. Diversity in entertainment isn’t about just singing regional languages. It’s about having people from different backgrounds represented on all fronts. I feel like he would have great insight into what I’m trying to do.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m pretty active on my Instagram: @art.wilde. Mad Honey Records is my Homebase. You can find us at madhoneyrecords.org My music is on all platforms with the majority of my listeners coming from Spotify. I’m also active on other socials like Tik Tok, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you! More love!

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