When The Mild West introduced themselves to the Chicago scene over the last year, it was through the two carefree and catchy singles “Orange Grove” and “Time.” The tracks take listeners on a journey into good times and breezy futures, painting a picture of the energy the band members — Kylie Bruetman, Aaron Gordon, Dan Overstreet, Tyler Vandenberg and Zack Wheeler — put into their performances.
Today they turn a little deeper with the new release “Glow,” out for streaming on all major platforms. The new single — a potent, poppy mix of Jukebox the Ghost channeling a hint of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” in its verses — carries the upbeat sound that is a hallmark of The Mild West’s music, but the lyrics examine a more pensive time for songwriter Bruetman.
“It’s a little more personal experience-focused, compared to ‘Orange Grove’ and ‘Time,’ where those are essentially just stories,” Bruetman said. “It’s a little more ominous and darker subject matter that is a departure from our first two songs, which I think is also indicative of growth as a unit and as a songwriting collaboration. … We don’t have to write about happy stuff all the time. We don’t have to write about necessarily feel-good subject matter or stories to still convey an upbeat feeling.”
Written in late 2018 during the band’s early months creating together, the song taps the mindset of Bruetman, who at the time was navigating the new ideas of adulthood and post-grad life. He studied arts administration and management at Indiana University, but he was facing a new life up in Chicago, where creative opportunities weren’t just a given.
“That first year out of school, you’re sort of finding your footing in a non-academic setting,” he explained. “I knew I needed a place to continue doing music and continue singing, continue creating in some capacity, because for the first time in my life I wasn’t in an environment where that was just readily available to me. I’d always been in that in either an academic environment or a community environment in which if I wanted to sing, I was part of a choir and got to sing for an hour a day, and it was not something I had to actively seek out to scratch that itch. When I got to Chicago, I had to be more actively searching and planning to incorporate that in my life.”
The Mild West, which was initially born as a chance to sing and play some covers every once in a while, started to mesh, writing their own songs and coming together as an original band.
“I think this song was maybe the first one where I started to write a little more about personal experience and personal thoughts and emotions that I was processing in the moment, and being comfortable sharing that in an artistic form,” Bruetman said. “I suppose this is the first song that I really felt comfortable being like, ‘Yeah, I’m a musician.’”
While “Glow” has been part of The Mild West’s live performance arsenal throughout, it took creative time during quarantine for the band to truly hone in on the perfect mix of rock, dance-pop with “electronic voltage sprinkled in” on the recording.
“It’s a really exciting and promising progression to see we can take these songs that we think already sound good in the room, that we already feel solid about the songwriting itself and just the general foundation of, and then go into a computer and start production on pianos and just all sorts of fun layers that we are just getting to the tip of the iceberg in exploring,” Bruetman said.
“But we are really excited to explore more of that as we finalize what songs we want to follow up with for an EP on and just continuing to learn about that process of production,” he said. “Where the song is both coming from but also progressed to, and how we’re thinking about writing from here on out. Just knowing that the songwriting process in the room is just half the battle, and that the other stuff outside of that is also a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.”