Narragansett native Ben Wise has been bumping around the music scene in South County for a while now. He’s been the lead singer and guitarist for the jam-funk act Groove Axiom since the band’s inception nearly 10 years ago. He was also the longtime sound engineer at The Wheel House when it was located on 294 Great Island Road in the fishing village of Galilee. These days he’s trying out new things, which has resulted in his new solo endeavor under the name Wisely. On Jan. 31, he released a colorful debut single, “Grateful,” which has already garnered acclaim from the local music community.
We recently talked about what inspired this new project, the music video he made for the song, keeping things simple and putting out more music in the near future.
Rob Duguay: What inspired this new solo project with Wisely?
Ben Wise: I’ve been writing music by myself for a while now and when the lockdown came because of COVID-19 last year, it really gave me the opportunity to focus on recording and putting it out there. I wanted it to be this minimal project where it’s a lot of neo-soul and R&B with pop; it’s what I’ve been listening to a lot of lately.
RD: There’s definitely a stripped-down aesthetic going on as well.
BW: Yeah, absolutely.
RD: Do you find there to be any major differences in terms of songwriting and structure between your solo material and Groove Axiom?
BW: I would say Groove Axiom is more jam-oriented, where Wisely has more of a structure. The music I make with the band has a lot more improvisation and free form. With myself, it’s more about making a vision I have come to life with my guitar and voice.
RD: “Grateful” has a very chill vibe to it. Where did you record the track and is it just you with an electric guitar?
BW: I recorded it and mixed it by myself, and Matt Lombardi at Sound Quest Studios mastered it. I’ve done a few things with other musicians before and the song has a bit of synth to it, but it’s mostly me with my guitar.
RD: The music video for the song has a silhouette of you with bright shades of blue, green, yellow, orange and purple in the background. How did the vision for the video come about?
BW: I actually wasn’t sure what to do for a music video at first, but then I sat in one of the rooms in my house and I turned the TV on. These colors started popping up in the camera and it looked pretty cool, so I sat in front of it and started singing the lyrics. It was surprisingly simple to film and edit, but I’m glad with how it came out.
RD: What do you plan on doing with Wisely in the future? Can we expect a series of singles or a debut album to be released?
BW: For the next few months, I plan on putting out some singles on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and all of that good stuff. I hope to release an album later on, but I don’t when exactly that’ll be. In the meantime, I’ll be getting more into my solo stuff and releasing new music for people to check out.