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Local Listens: Wild Fictions

Welcome to Local Listens, where we profile some of our favorite Washington musicians. This week, we shine the spotlight on Wild Fictions.

Photograph courtesy of Wild Fictions.

Drum-and-keyboard duos usually call to mind San Francisco’s Mates of State or Brooklyn’s Matt & Kim. In Washington, we have Wild Fictions, a brother/sister duo who play tunes that’ll have you smiling.

Kelly DeWitt hits the keys while brother Chris keeps the beat on the drum kit, and they both pitch in on vocals. The band has only four songs on its MySpace page, and we like the track “1943” the best. It starts out with a simple drum beat joined by a bit of poppy synth and a chorus of catchy bop-bops and ooohs. The band is currently working on new music and hopes to have more songs out next fall.

Originally from Texas, Kelly and Chris have been playing music since they were kids. Wild Fictions started a few years back—and completely by accident, says Kelly: “Chris and I had been playing some music, halfway joking around. I was on a Radio Shack keyboard one of our friends had forgotten at our house, and Chris was on the drums. I think I even played bass on one song. I don’t know how to play bass. Actually, I think Chris even rapped on one song. Chris doesn’t know how to rap (sorry, bro). But that was about three years ago. We have our wits about us now.”

When the two moved to DC for college, Chris recalls, they revived an old project called Five Across the Eyes, changed the name, and became more serious about the band. Now Kelly is back in Texas finishing school, but upon her return to DC for the summer, Wild Fictions will get back to the scene with some shows.

Chris—a first-grade teacher by day—will perform solo at the Red & Black on May 14, and the duo will be reunited for the first show of the summer on June 1 at the same venue.

Read on to learn more about Chris and Kelly, their upcoming recording plans, and how they feel about being in a family band.

Names: Kelly and Chris DeWitt.

Ages: Kelly, 20; Chris, 23.

Kelly: “Sugar Land, Texas. It sounds made up, I know. But it’s all too real. It’s a pretty, sprawling town about 20 minutes southwest of Houston.”

First song that made you want to play music:
Chris: “Probably ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ by R.E.M. I was in fourth grade and made my mom listen to it, oblivious that it was a superhit.”

First instrument:
Kelly: “Our mom had this thing that each of her children had to learn to play an instrument. I think all three of the DeWitt children learned piano first—though I guess I’m the only one who stuck with it. Our mom’s a very wise lady.”
Chris: “After I quit piano, I played bass in middle school and in the high-school orchestra.”

Local spot to seek inspiration or write music:
Chris: “I do a lot of writing in my classroom, actually. I bring my guitar every day. We sing songs about days of the week and stuff, but I also write real songs there during snack time.”

Best local venue:
Chris: “I like ’em all. But if I had to pick one, Galaxy Hut in Arlington is a little gem. Also, the DC Mini Gallery at 14th and Crittendon streets, Northwest, will probably be really awesome.”

Best bar to hear music:
Chris: “Toledo Lounge and Pharmacy Bar have nice jukeboxes.”

Favorite local band other than yours:
Chris: “Dizzy Spells, featuring Tim George, formerly of Black and White Jacksons, and Kelela Mizanekristos. They’re really new, and they’ve only played a few shows, but they’re super good. All minimal drum machines, guitar, and jazzy vocals. Tim plays like three things at a time.”

Best things about Washington’s music scene:
Chris: “Relatively supportive media outlets, a large audience for independent music, and good bands.”

Worst thing about Washington’s music scene:
Chris: “Not a lot of practice spaces for bands. We lucked out because I live in the basement of a house with folks who don’t mind if we play loudly, but a lot of bands aren’t so lucky. Also, there should be more house shows!”

Craziest tour or show memory:
Kelly: “This question made me realize that Wild Fictions is regrettably not very crazy.”
Chris: “I organized a benefit for an apartment fire in Mount Pleasant last year, and during the show Kelly’s keyboard broke—just kinda sputtered out and died. Another band, Ra Ra Rasputin, jumped in and loaned us their keyboard, which saved the day. The keyboard was so rad. Kelly ended up buying the same keyboard later on. Juno-G all the way.”

Finish this sentence: “When not making music, you can find me . . .”
Chris: “. . . teaching first grade.”
Kelly: “. . .  going to college in Austin, Texas.”

Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
Chris: “The Kinks.”
Kelly: “Oh, I dunno. If you had asked me this question when I was 13, without a second thought I would’ve answered the Beatles. I used to be really into the Beatles. But since then, I’ve discovered a love for the Rolling Stones, too—I really like their early stuff.”

Digital download or hard copy?
Chris: “Hard copy.”
Kelly: “Hard copy.”

Rolling Stone or Spin?
Chris: “Skyscraper.”

Club show or festival?
Kelly: “Club show. While festivals are great one-stop shopping when it comes to seeing bands, they can never capture the intimacy of a club show.”

What musicians, bands, or performers influence your music?
Chris: “Right now, I’m really into the Dodos and the new Animal Collective record. I really like the drummer for the Dodos, and I know it’s not cool to say, but I like later Animal Collective better. I also really like the drummers for Les Savy Fav and the Walkmen.”
Kelly: “The Animals. But I can never seem to capture the right organ sound.”

What’s behind the band’s name?
Chris: “We’re really into telling elaborate half truths. Like, crazy half truths.”
Kelly: “Chris made it up. I used to hate it, actually. But I’ve come to have peace with it. I guess.”

Are you recording, and when can we expect an album?
Chris: “We’re recording some this summer, so there should be something together by the fall. We actually already have the design done. It’ll be called Wilderness for Wildlife and have a lot of deer on it and probably some references to St. Hubert.”

Because you’re a drum/keys duo, do you get a lot of comparison to Mates of State?
Chris: “No. But people do think we’re married. It’s not true.”
Kelly: “No. But we do get a lot of comparisons to Matt & Kim—and that I just don’t see.”

What is your favorite music-related movie scene?
Chris: “The part in Newsies when Christian Bale’s character sings about Santa Fe and does that dance sequence. God, I wanted to be a Newsie so bad. Actually, big confession here: Until about sixth grade, all I listened to was musicals. Especially Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Pretty much exclusively until my brother showed me the Pixies.”
Kelly: “The scene in Buffalo ’66 when Christina Ricci’s character starts tap dancing in the bowling alley to ‘Moonchild.’ It’s life-affirming.”

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