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Columbia College alumna, current students release debut EP with The Wild, The Innocent

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

At the end of 2018, in the CU Records recording space on the fifth floor of Lerner Hall, seven musicians — including Riley Burke CC’18, Nick Loud CC’21 and Michael Coiro CC’21 — were hard at work recording their debut EP. Flash forward to January 2019, and The Wild, The Innocent have released their eponymous first record.

The Wild The Innocent band members

(L to R): Guy Dellecave, Keegan Riley, Brendan Krovatin, Riley Burke CC18, Michael Coiro CC’21, Nick Loud CC’21, Chris Wright

photo by Aaliyah Triumph CC’19

Burke initially met songwriting partner Brendan Krovatin, then a student in the Department of Psychology Postbac Certificate Program, in Fall 2017, when they were both research assistants in the Columbia Social and Moral Cognition Lab. On Thursdays, they would travel to Crown Heights to work with kids at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum; along the way, music became a topic of discussion.

From there, Burke and Krovatin began a music partnership that led them to East Campus in Spring 2018, where they worked together on songs. At the time, Burke was also taking “The Lyric Essay,” a course taught by then-Adjunct Assistant Professor Jordan Kisner in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program.

“Taking this class, which is all about this essay form that blends poetry and a traditional essay,” Burke says, “it just opened up this whole world to exploring the different barriers that the art world is breaking nowadays.”

Burke studied jazz voice in college and grew up classically trained as a violinist. She also applied what she learned in the class to examining the songcraft of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, artists Krovatin recommended she explore while he also helped her focus on lyrics and production techniques.

Burke lists Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and the Beach Boys as other influences. Krovatin cites artists like The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, as well as Dylan and Springsteen.

“I consider myself a writer first and a musician second, so those are a lot of my big lyrical influences,” Krovatin says. “I think Riley [is] more jazz background and mine is more folk.”

While developing their sound on campus, the band also was hard at work recruiting new members for the group, enlisting musicians like Loud from the Columbia Clefhangers, an a cappella group that Burke had previously been a member in.

As the band grew to encompass the seven members it now comprises, they began recording their EP, spending eight hours a week in the Lerner Hall studio over a three month period. The end result is their newly released four-track record with a self-described “big band folk” sound.

The music traverses a varied sonic and lyrical palette, from the gentle strumming of “July 12, NY,” which paints a vivid portrait of summer in the city, to the swelling orchestral crescendo of “The Knife,” which examines the divisiveness of today’s political climate.

“I’d say ‘The Knife’ is a true collaboration between Brendan and [me],” Burke says. “And we pay homage a little bit to The Beatles [in] the chaotic sections, something that Brendan came up with that references ‘A Day in the Life’”

As for live performances, The Wild, The Innocent are hoping to play at Postcrypt Coffeehouse, located in the crypt of St. Paul’s Chapel on campus, and Silvana, a Middle Eastern cafe on 116th Street, but they don’t feel pressure for their concerts to exactly replicate their studio sounds.

“We don’t want to limit what our imagination has for us for these songs,” Krovatin says.

So what’s up next for the band? The Wild, The Innocent are now working on their debut studio album as well as a music video with videographer Yuke Xie CC’19. They’re aiming to start recording in March, with a targeted release date of August 2019. And their time on campus will never be too far away.

“I think the goal is to really capture this time in our lives when we were writing,” Burke says.

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