As Wingtip, Nick Perloff-Giles Crafts Pop Gems for the Introspectively Inclined
- CategoryMusic + Culture
- Written byRich Thomas
“Everything always seems so much more linear when you look at it in hindsight,” says Los Angeles-based, Bay Area-raised singer, songwriter and producer Wingtip (aka Nick Perloff-Giles). “But when I think about the choices that I made and the way things evolved, a lot of it was taking leaps of faith where I wasn’t aware of the risks.”
All Your Friends Are Here is Perloff-Giles’ debut full-length, but he’s lived a few short musical lifetimes since his first breakout hit, 2017’s indie-pop anthem “Rewind.” The tune’s hyper-success led to a major label deal with Republic, and Perloff-Giles quickly found himself in meetings with publishers asking quizzical questions about his songwriting inspirations and goals. “The first year or so, I was thrust from somebody who works in my bedroom to working in songwriting sessions, and there’s so much etiquette and knowledge that goes into those that I did not have,” he remembers. “I do feel like I stumbled my way through it and learned along the way.”
As a live performer, Perloff-Giles grew tired of awkwardly DJing his hits, and slowly began to move away from his dance music foundation and grow into his capabilities as a vocalist. The fruit of that transition led to the beautifully introspective Ghosts of Youth in 2018. Two years later—and a few steps further down that new path—Perloff-Giles offers up a slice of LA life that illuminates a full spectrum of emotion. We caught up with him on the eve of his album release to discuss his fantastic voyage.
Dance music and production are in your DNA. Was it difficult transitioning into more of a traditional songwriting mindset for this latest album?
Wingtip: I was in bands and that was always fun, but what changed my life was going to this festival called BFD, which was a radio festival in Mountain View, California. It was a pop punk alt-rock festival, but there was always a dance tent. I saw DJ AM there, very early [Steve] Aoki, Toxic Avenger, all of the electro stuff. Being in a band, it was hard to motivate anyone to show up to practice so I decided “Fuck it, I’ll do it on my own on a computer.” I’ve always blurred those worlds. I certainly never grew up thinking of myself as a songwriter in any conventional sense.
So being a singer/songwriter was never the goal from the outset?
Wingtip: I grew up in an era where nobody made money on records, so that was never the plan, business-wise. It was always the DJ model: put something up on SoundCloud that goes crazy and then tour 300 days a year. Suddenly I was in this space where I was trying to make big songs. It can be fun, but it can also be unartful.
Wingtip: My first DJ tour was January through May in 2017. I was putting out pop EDM stuff and DJing it, and I remember feeling really alienated and weird. I had DJed before in college where the focus was the drop and the transitions, but now I was playing essentially front to back pop songs. I had these moments where I walked off stage feeling like, “What was that? What did I just do?”
It sounds like you had the chops to go either way: full on traditional DJing or touring as a singer/songwriter.
Wingtip: It could have gone either way, but at the time the avenues for dance music felt stale. Also, my music listening habits started getting further and further from dance music. I will say, day one of the headline tour for Ghosts of Youth, where I was lugging guitars, amps and flight cases, I was like “Maybe I’ve made a horrible mistake! Maybe I should just have a USB drive.”
Would you say All Your Friends Are Here is a third act of sorts, given the sonic progression of “Rewind” to Ghosts of Youth to now?
Wingtip: I think it’s either a third or a continuation of the second. Or it’s like the fifth. (Laughs) This project has gone through so many iterations a wiser man might have created a different name at some point for it. I put out Ghosts of Youth and went on tour with Petit Biscuit. I thought, “Fuck, I have to sing in front of a thousand people right now.” But that was part of the baptism, and once I did that it didn’t feel as weird. Ghosts of Youth was written in the context of what I had been doing before, one step removed from dance music. Now I’m two steps removed, and I’m going even further with de-dancifying songs.
I don’t know if this is the quarantine talking but “Try” is really putting me in my feelings. Tell me about that one.
Wingtip: That one was the hardest song to write. I moved to LA in 2017; this little house in Echo Park. LA can be very quiet and still if you want it to be, and I was finding a lot of enjoyment and beauty in that. I was just thinking that you can have a life that is satisfying and meaningful without it being as big as possible. I found the celebrity and fame aspect of the music industry not particular interesting, and had values that were at odds with my dream. When I was 16, the idea was let’s be on tour for 300 days a year. Then suddenly I was like, “I think I like being very quiet.”
The 280-acres was once home to two Wiyot villages.