“I never had a moment where I made a decision to play music, it’s just in me somewhere,” Bekah Wagner explained. “Without music, I would be lost.”
The hidden gem of Colorado Springs is starting to surface. Her name is Bekah Wagner and she’s the life source of Roo & the Howl. I know you’re wondering where the name came from? A childhood nickname “Bekah-roo” makes up the “Roo” part of the name, but the “Howl” just fell into place as time went on.
Recently, she’s played huge concerts, which range from venues in Denver to the SXSW Festival, so there has been a heightened sense of exposure in the last year leading up to her debut album, ME/WE.
She’s bluesy and soulful, and that’s all by choice. She’s a self-taught musician who self-released her debut album, so there’s no one else for her to thank but herself. With some help of studio musicians that she flew in to lay down some tracks on the album, and her co-producer and engineer Michael Rossback, Roo & the Howl is on its way to a potential breakthrough.
“Doing it all on my own is heavy,” Wagner said. “I have my manager and my PR girl, but other than that, it’s just me. The biggest hurdle is that there’s not enough of me to go around.”
It took her a long time to finally decide to record an album, but once she knew it was time, she buckled down.
“It took over a year of writing and working side jobs to save enough money to make it,” she explained. “But when it came to it, we just took four days in the studio, in January, and recorded it live.”
When it came down to discovering her sound, it just happened, so maybe that’s what makes her music interesting.
Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Wagner has decided to stay in Colorado as she travels her journey through music. Though she would enjoy moving to a big city like Nashville, or New York City, she is happy with the roots she has planted in the Rocky Mountains. With Denver being her home away from home, she is constantly traveling there to perform and will set up a gig, once in a while, for the Colorado Springs area, so people don’t have to travel far to hear some great, local talent.
“I could see myself living in a lot of places,” she said. “Colorado is great though, it’s beautiful and the people are great, and the beer, too.”
Since learning how to play instruments at a very young age and practically coming out singing, she has dipped her toes in different types of music. She grew up in the church, so her music used to be a lot different, not by choice, but she is finally settling in her nest as the songbird of the Midwest. Adapting to the familiar folk sound in Colorado, you can its influence in her music, but that might be coming from her interest in old country tunes that she grew up with too.
When asked what her theme was for the new album, she replied, “Human.”
“Music isn’t supposed to be perfect, it’s meant to be emotive, beautiful and human,” Wagner said. “I think with themes of dying, relationships, spirituality, is again very human.”
She mentioned that she really made it her priority to record this album live. The goal was to capture raw moments. She didn’t go back and re-record her vocals, and she even left in the moments that she felt she was slightly out of tune. Despite any pitch issues she might have had with any illness or sickness, she continued on and finished the entire 10-track album. She was just doing what was best for each song and they were making something they would enjoy.
“I knew it would be dark and I wanted it to sound like me, whatever that sounds like…” Wagner explained. “There was a lot of discovery to this album.”
There were zero rules when it was time to record, and she just wanted to capture the energy of the band playing music together, rather than capture the sound of them as individuals.
Now that Wagner is coming off of her debut album, she is already planning on moving forward to future projects. She wants to remain as Roo & the Howl and there is already talk about writing for a future album.
From here, she’ll go on to do some promotion for her album, while playing a string of concerts throughout the summer. Since she hasn’t been able to write for the past six months, she’s eager to start writing again, so some new tracks could pop up in the year.
“I want to create music over my entire life,” she said. “I want to evolve and let art happen to me, I want to perfect my craft and I want to share it.”