Welcome to Wider Smile. Dave Biddle on saxophone and keys, Andrew Woods on guitar and vocals, and a styrofoam mannequin with a wig called Andrew comprise Wider Smile. One of those is an honorary member but who’s into labels? Biddle and Woods met in 2012 when both of them were shopping for producers in New York.
DB: “There were a lot of prophecies in the Mayan calendar for 2012. None of them mentioned that two young men would become best friends. Two young entrepreneurs with bright hearts and cold eyes would single each other out amongst 20-million other entrepreneurs in the big bright beautiful apple.”
AW: “New York, where record mogul David Musial is based.”
DB: “It’s a dazzling center of the inter-human community.”
AW: “If you live there it’s important to not pay attention to the rest of the world.”
This is how most of the conversations flow with Biddle and Woods. Their rapport is upbeat and infectious. Talking to them, jokes flying, the world takes on a more relaxed glow.
From Woods and Biddle’s side of production, the music goes untouched by software. “We don’t use computers, it’s not part of our process,” says Woods. “We recorded our first EP on a cassette and used a Tascam Portastudio for our second.” Hardware only, folks.
The executive producer Chance Corp™, arguably the actual third member / branch of the band, takes all the music they send to the company and produces the songs in their final form. Woods tells me with an ominous lilt: “Chance is the only dictator in the band.”
After Wider Smile first signed the contract to make music together, they met up at a studio in Montréal and “just started making noises,” explains Biddle. “At the time you were a professional musician and I had zero experience with music.”
“I should have asked Dave about his musical experience. He hadn’t even bought his first saxophone yet,” says Woods. “[It was] less jazz more jass. We were not syncing up in the way that two professional musicians typically do. I did eventually meet [Dave] in the middle and I think that’s how we invented our signature Wider Smile sound, by chance. All our songs are written by Chance Corp™. I could tell he was a talented individual, and I could tell that he had a lot of passion. I persevered through some of those more hectic moments. I thought maybe there’s some genius behind all of these clumsy notes.”
“Chance Corp™ did a fabulous job converting those mashes of sound into really streamlined, digested sounds,” Biddle agrees. “They translate it into something that’s usable.”
After the formation of their creative relationship with Chance Corp™, they are on to their next album, User Illusion — a self-help cassette on one side and the other side features what Wider Smile describes as “ballads of self destruction.”
Biddle settling into the main Wider Smile philosophy starts to speak very rhythmically and calmly, laying out a dense web of patterning. “Being greedy and rich is the ideal that we call success but people don’t realize that that’s random. So not being greedy and rich but thinking that you could work your way to get there, is causing a lot of people anxiety and stress.” Biddle and Woods hope to reveal and relieve this stress through this tape. “The whole tape negates itself. The times when you feel like what you’re saying is in complete contradiction with how you live then you have an emotional breakdown and an identity crisis.”
“Partly we feel like we are learning, but the other part is frustration,” says Woods.
Biddle continues: “To accept advice people want an unblemished persona. The other side is to admit your own hypocrisy. That contradiction creates a collapse of logic. And then from that collapse, a client or listener gains a certain kind of stark clarity from the chaos of the collapse when you think you have this one ideological framework to work with. And then all of a sudden, from the same source you are presented with an opposing ideological framework.”
Essentially, Wider Smile breaks down the binary of didactic instruction as correct, while feeling or doing the opposite of what is instructed as wrong. Wider Smile presents both of these phenomenon as essential to achieving a third phenomenon:
“From that collapse you are left with no ideological framework which leads you with a clear mind to perceive the world anew, and you can realize nothing is fixed and everything is just the weather. And if you complain about the weather then you are just confused about what you’re even complaining about,” says Biddle.
Their show featuring this ideology in musical form will be held at a masonic temple in Vancouver June 16.
“Architecture and the spaces that we inhabit dictate our mental states. For example, condos are constructed with an underlying philosophy that dictates subtle things, and they seep into you subconsciously, but they determine how you act when you’re inside of these spaces. They were built in such a way to keep their inhabitants from leaving. They suppress spontaneity,” Biddle warns.
“The underlying philosophy in a masonic temple is an acceptance of things as they are, and putting aside illusory concepts like free will and individual agency. So you perceive with an open mind and a clear heart. You submit to the spiritual presence or message.”
Wider Smile is in the business of an “altering state of consciousness.” Transcendence you can count on.