story by Remsy Atassi // photos by Kelly Fleming & Remsy Atassi
We caught up with WALKINGSHOE on a classic Chicago winter night starring alcohol and near blizzard conditions. His music blurs lines between more straight ahead pop melodies and denser production - often working behind the scenes for local hip hop artists.
Hoping to make the most of dirty conditions we sucked down a few drinks at Estelle's and moved into the tundra.
Emulsion: How did you end up in Chicago?
walkingshoe: I grew up close to the city and have been living here my whole life. It's a great place.
Emulsion: And how can you deal with these winters - given that it was a blizzard that night we hung out!
walkingshoe: I thought the weather was actually pretty nice that night! Thing with winter is that you just need to bundle up properly; I always have one of those hats that cover your full head. A Russian hat? That's what I call them.
Emulsion: Do you usually perform with a band?
walkingshoe: Up until pretty recently, I was 100% a producer and studio musician and would only play live shows if it was alongside one of my rap friends as a guitarist. But starting last year I've been playing solo as 'walkingshoe' (sometimes with some friends accompanying me) but now - yes - I've got a permanent band. We're a 3 piece (drums, bass, guitar) and we've been practicing a ton and will hopefully be playing a lot of shows this year.
Emulsion: You write the music yourself? What's the process usually like?
walkingshoe: Yes. I usually will start humming a melody while going about my day, then record on my phone so I don't forget it because I have a terrible memory. Then later on at the studio I'll extend it out into a full song with lyrics. But I also like jamming out with friends and making up stuff on the spot. I'm definitely an improv sort of songwriter where I'll make up words that usually don't make sense, and then write out the song into it's final form at a later time. I always let things flow out naturally and don't like to force anything.
Emulsion: How would you describe the sound? It's definitely got a pop feel with hooks but also kinda lo-fi. Not sure if that resonates...
walkingshoe: I think that's pretty accurate. It sounds lo-fi probably more so because I'm bad at mixing haha, but no - I do prefer that "vintage" sound (for lack of a better word) and do shoot for that in my songs. Also, yea - I like hooks, but I always try to be thoughtful with all my lyrics to maintain sincerity throughout the song. I think that's really important in a good song because if it's not convincing to the person listening there's no point in listening to it in the first place.
Emulsion: Are there any good acts in Chicago we should check out? What are you into locally?
walkingshoe: There are a lot of awesome Chicago shows you should check out. Emily Blue has a great live show and so does Ric Wilson. My friend Rich Jones - who I'm releasing an EP with this summer - also plays a lot live and kills it. Too many to name, honestly, and most shows are very inexpensive to go to. I also enjoy what they're doing over at Sofar Sounds.
Emulsion: Do you have any new music we should know about?
walkingshoe: Yes. I have so many solo songs I'm going to be releasing this year. Most recent though was this new hip hop track I produced for this great artist called Qari. It's called "4G Speeding" and can be found on my SC page.