How the Musicians of WaxFeet Discovered an Audience for Ambient Music

WaxFeet delivers gentle melodies with lo-fi beats and ambient overtones

Santa Cruz’s WaxFeet will release its debut EP this month.

Local musician Damon Danielson has written hundreds of traditional verse-chorus-verse songs with lyrics, vocals and a message—acoustic music, power-pop, yacht rock, R&B.

But he’s over all of that now. Since 2019, he’s been crafting feelgood, dreamy, chilled-out instrumental tracks with Patrick Brede under the name WaxFeet. He couldn’t be happier with the transition.  

“I wanted to do chill music because I fell in love with it, and it made me happy,” Danielson says. “There’s so much negative shit in the world. I’m not interested in angst. Let’s put people in a place where they can enjoy where they are and find a happy moment.”

Though the group is still very new, at the end of the month they will be releasing their debut EP. And in January 2021, they’ll be following it up with a full-length. They’re already working on material for their second album.

They’re also starting to build an audience online with the first couple of singles they released on the internet, using YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and more recently Spotify to find people craving gentle melodies with lo-fi beats and ambient overtones.

“We don’t have millions of people, but we’re in the thousands. It’s all organic. We’re not just kids releasing singles and making noise,” Danielson says. “We’re going to keep doing good material, getting it out there. We think at some point people looking for good music will find us. We’ll see if that works.”

With Spotify, they’re learning about the people that consume their music. A lot of their fanbase are between the ages of 13 and 18, and are presumably using it as background music to study—a particularly popular trend on Spotify and YouTube for that demographic. There’s also a larger market via streaming sites that didn’t exist a decade ago for pleasant background instrumental music. That’s not why the group got into crafting this type of music, but they are aware of its potential and have hired a PR team to help promote their upcoming releases to see if they can connect with this audience.

“The hard part is getting out in front of people and breaking through the clutter. That’s our biggest challenge right now,” Danielson says.

The duo works hard to create the music they envision. It starts with Danielson fiddling around on the guitar or the piano and recording any riff that catches his fancy. Once a month, he and Brede rifle through these licks to find the gems that can blossom into WaxFeet songs. Three times a week—often for five hours a session—they work on new material. It takes several sessions to complete a single song; a lot of the process is tweaking the sonic elements to produce just the right surreal vibe.

WaxFeet’s songs are rarely washed-out like much of chillwave tends to be. The pianos, guitars, and drum machines are clearly distinguishable. The songs tend to be slow and cinematic, and create an almost tender otherworldly feeling.

“We’re really sonically oriented. A lot of the chill stuff, they don’t focus as much on production,” Danielson says. We sit and work in front of those speakers. That’s part of the creative process, just trying to make ear candy. I want people who like sound, who like getting carried away and traveling with their ears—we try to give them lots of stuff to listen to.”

The plan was to first release the album, then start figuring out what form of DJ/live band hybrid they’d create to take these songs to the stage. But Covid-19 delayed both their album and live debut, and they still don’t know exactly how they’ll approach live performance.

“I think there’s a very good chance we won’t see a lot of [live events] even in 2021. I think it’s going to be a little while,” Danielson says. “It’s hard for me to figure out what the venue would be. It’s almost like a zombie chill rave. I don’t think anybody’s doing that, and that might be because there isn’t a market for it. I think that’s what we would try to do.”

For more information, go to waxfeet.com.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Peter Coe Verbica

    October 13, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Can’t wait for the new releases! Bravo!

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