We’re glad to announce that Provo, United States-based solo artist Wishhful Thinking has released a new single, entitled “American Dream.”
Wishhful Thinking is Jefferson Knight, a talented musician who has played piano since he was eight years old. For as long as he can remember, he’s enjoyed making his own songs; however, it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he began to take it seriously. At the time, he was hesitant to pursue his musical endeavors, feeling as though there was a fundamental difference between himself and the artists whom he enjoyed listening to. “In those days, Matt Bellamy and Brandon Flowers were the untouchable music gods curating my playlists. I never would have referred to them as such, but on a subconscious level, there was just something fundamentally different between them and me. Somehow, they were exceptions to the rule, rising through their supreme talent to positions of prominence – positions not available to laymen like me,” Knight says.
It was only when he discovered the band Twenty-One Pilots in the summer of 2014 that Knight began to challenge his belief that he couldn’t become a successful music artist. He writes, “There was just something different about Twenty-One Pilots. They didn’t fit the mold. Compared to the radio-friendly music I didn’t know I had been listening to my whole life; Twenty-One Pilots felt intriguingly organic. And the lead singer Tyler Joseph wasn’t like those other guys. He was surprisingly human. There was nothing fundamentally different between him and me that led him to musical success and me to musical mediocrity. I began to realize that the songs I created had value and that my creativity was worth following.”
However, Knight says that he took his hopes of becoming a famous musician too far at the time, ultimately inspiring the name and philosophy behind his music project as well as the themes explored in his most recent single:
“Within a matter of months, I couldn’t sit down at a piano anymore without envisioning myself as the famous musician I began to think it was my destiny to be. My computer became filled with ideas that were sure to be hit songs, just hit songs I hadn’t quite finished yet. And now, seven years later, it’s safe to say that my 2014 self would be disappointed with my lack of musical success.
I think this was always a fear of mine; that these intense visions of musical success I experienced were just wishful thinking all along and that I really was crazy for thinking the way I did. So in 2019, that’s what I decided to name my music project, Wishhful Thinking (with an extra h to stand out). If it failed, then at least I called it what it was. But if it succeeded, then it was a middle finger to the people who never believed and an inspiration to the kids like my 2014 self, wrestling with their own excitement, trying to figure out its legitimacy.
I try to be cognizant of my tendency to over-romanticize on American Dream. There’s something uneasy in the excitement I try to embrace. After all, if there’s one thing the American dream is known for, it’s being unrealistic. I try to find solace in the idea that if my teenage daydreams ultimately do end up amounting to mere rushes of adrenaline, then at least I’m not the only one. In fact, I guess that just conforms me to the most fundamental American idea there is.“
“American Dream” is Wishhful Thinking’s fourth and most recent single prior to the release of his upcoming album, Escaping the Dreamworld. During the songwriting process, Knight didn’t expect American Dream to be released as a single, and the track didn’t truly blossom until its ending stages. “American Dream” sat in Knight’s files for a little over a year, and was initially titled “Only Time Will Tell” before a second version was renamed “Before the Storm.” A few months later, Knight had an idea for another song called “Idaho,” and he ended up taking the bridge from “Before the Storm” and using it in “Idaho,” which Knight felt was more immediately promising.
However, Knight’s interest in releasing “American Dream” were revived when he began working towards his forthcoming album, Escaping the Dreamworld. As he writes, “‘American Dream’ always matched the vibe I was going for in an album though, so when I was finally working a bit more practically to bring the album about in 2020, I revisited it with this American Dream idea and implemented a little piano ballad-type section at the end, since I felt like the album as a whole needed something a bit more calm.”
Knight recorded “American Dream” with Nathan Sage at Sage Sound Studios in Shelton, Connecticut, who helped him to build the song from the bassline, drums, and vocals to a fuller-sounding anthem. Nathan encouraged Knight to use the piano that he’d been playing before their session in the actual song, and invited the talented Blake Basset to sing backing vocals on both the verses and the chorus.
“I first worked with Nate on another song from the album, Seagulls, and then brought in American Dream. To my delight, he had a live baby grand piano I was able to play over the record. Due to limitations, for the most part of the album, piano played is MIDI rather than live recording, but I think the live recording in American Dream really helps it feel more lively.
Compared to the version of American Dream I have, the one I brought in to Nate felt relatively empty, and Nate helped fill it out in the ways I wanted to but didn’t know how. He helped me beef up the drums, encouraged me to play the piano on the chorus, and recommended someone he knew to sing backup vocals. When all that was put together, along with lyrics that for me, I was proud of, American Dream became single material,” Knight says.
“American Dream” is a catchy electro-pop-rock anthem that will have a wide appeal while remaining true to Knight’s musical roots. The track begins with energetic, synth-led passages that lead nicely into a reflective piano ballad, highlighting Wishhful Thinking’s creative songwriting and superb musicianship. Throughout the track, Knight’s inspired lyrics complement the mood created by the instruments well, expressing both the excitement and leery uncertainty surrounding the American Dream’s ethos that anyone from anywhere can do anything. “American Dream” is also quite an enjoyable listen, and I would highly recommend this track to fans of indie pop and synth-driven indie rock alike.
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