Deeply inspired by the Tetons, alt-rock band “WYO” makes cinematic music influenced by nature’s strength and resilience.
Frontman Andy Sorge and guitarist Scott McKay Gibson’s songs are an honest look at love and loss, and the soul-searching and clarity that emerges in the space between. Now based in San Diego, the band has roots in Jackson Hole.
On Tuesday, June 6, the Jackson Hole Youth Orchestra and WYO will combine forces to celebrate home-grown musicianship for MusicLand’s Spring Benefit Concert at the Center for the Arts.
Founded in 2019, MusicLand provides youth with opportunities to grow as an orchestral musician.
In advance of MusicLand’s Spring Concert and gala fundraiser, Sorge and McKay Gibson joined us in the KHOL Studios.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Friday, June 2.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: Andy, a big part of your music education growing up was here in Jackson, and now things are coming full circle for you with this MusicLand concert, performing with youth musicians. What was it like working with the kids on the performance, and can you touch on the importance of the program?
ANDY SORGE: The program supports funding for the youth in Jackson for music education. So, the ticket sales for the show are going towards that program and the scholarships that they provide. Working with them has been amazing. We charted out some music for a song of ours that we’re going to play together before my band takes the stage for about an hour afterward. But they’ve been rehearsing our song called “Western Wyoming.” They’re super talented. We’ve had to make some changes on the charts and they were able to get through it the first time around. We’ve only really rehearsed the song a few times and they’re nailing it each time.
KHOL: You’ve mentioned repeatedly how big of an inspiration nature and wilderness is in your music, especially the surroundings here in Western Wyoming. In fact, a lot of WYO’s songs were written right here in Jackson Hole. Can you both expand on the inspiration you draw from nature? Give us a glimpse into your songwriting process.
SCOTT MCKAY GIBSON: It’s hard not to be inspired here in Jackson Hole. If you’re a photographer, all you got to do is just point your camera outside any direction and you can automatically have something that looks amazing and you can kind of translate that to music. When you’re looking outside, when you’re looking anywhere for music, you’re always looking for that inspiration. Today is a little rainy, but it’s a mood, you know? And year-round, even in the off-season, it’s emotional outside. So, we really try to capture that in our music because this is where we love to be. It’s like a home for us. When we’re outside and even when we’re inside looking out, it captures that emotion that we try to put in our music.
SORGE: Being out here, we just feel really grounded. You can disconnect and look out at the mountains and kind of daydream and come up with things very easily. We made [our new album “Gemini”] in Wilson. I’ve had a house here for 30 years, so we’ve got a little studio in Wilson, and I spend pretty much all my time there. Whenever I’m writing, I’m here in Jackson doing it. We rarely cross the Snake River! We get isolated out there. We hit Albertsons and stock up on groceries, and then we’re out there for two weeks and don’t really see anybody. Maybe we pop over to the Stagecoach, you know, but we spend probably 90% of our time working on music in Jackson.
Listen above for KHOL’s entire conversation with WYO.