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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Wic Whitney spills the Afternoon Tea
by Jerry Nunn
2024-02-15

This article shared 6877 times since Thu Feb 15, 2024
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Born in Arkansas and now based in Chicago, queer performer Wic Whitney is a storyteller with a great deal to say, preaching his Southern soul message through unique vocal stylings as a rapper and singer.

This mission has led him to entertain his followers on stages everywhere, and most recently as a headliner at Lincoln Hall in the Windy City.

His new EP Afternoon Tea was released on Jan. 12, where he dove into themes of heartbreak and his first gay relationship. Tracks like "Matcha" and "Oolong" highlight his dexterity with rhymes and quick-witted flow.

Whitney met up for tea time at a coffee shop to discuss his craft and history with no filter.

Windy City Times: Is Wic your real name?

Wic Whitney: No, my first name is Noah and Whitney is my real last name. Wic was a name I made in 9th grade when I started writing rap music. I wanted something short like Biggie or Nas. It originally stood for "Within I Create," which I thought was cheesy, but people started calling me Wic, so I dropped the acronym and went with it.

WCT: What is your middle name and pronouns?

WW: Steven and he/him.

WCT: How was growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas?

WW: It was great. I had family troubles like many others, but I passed as a straight guy. That was either learned or how I naturally was. I just focused on being myself. There was bullying later on, but not in high school. I was made fun of for a multitude of reasons, but being gay wasn't one of them. I didn't have a good fashion sense and I have been big since I was a kid.

Now that I am out and express myself in gender nonconforming clothing, it happens mainly online. When I am back home, I get stares and comments, but nothing really slows me down!

WCT: Good. The reason I wanted to interview you and support your work is because of the ignorant comments people made on your ad for your show at Lincoln Hall. There were a few allies on the thread as well.

WW: There are allies in Little Rock as well. I don't want to make my city out to be a monster. I love my hometown and many people were kind to me there. I want to eventually go back there and create a community for other queer artists who don't have the means to leave the scene.

WCT: That reminds me of the LoveLoud music festival in Utah that created spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.

WW: Yes and it is a lifetime of work. The community doesn't change overnight.

WCT: Did you always want to make music?

WW: I always wanted to make people happy. I thought it would be with acting and it still could be. I received my degree here in Chicago. I have always loved performing. Music gave me more freedom than acting did. There is only so much you can do to bring your voice into a character, but it is still in a box. I can do whatever I want with music, but it can be a tough road.

I got a letter from a promising agency for acting and had to make a decision about it right out of college. I went all in for music and now it is working out.

WCT: How long have you been working at it?

WW: I started when I was 14 years old and put out my first mixtape when I was 16. I put out several EPs after that and this latest one was released a few weeks ago.

WCT: How do you describe your genre of music?

WW: It is a blend of hip-hop, soul and funk. My music sounds like the children of Jen Lekman, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo and Outkast.

WCT: What inspired your EP Afternoon Tea?

WW: During the pandemic, my sister and I had very long conversations on the phone where we had tea every day. We tried all different kinds of teas, and I got into a ritual of starting my day off with something positive, warm and nourishing. I decided to make a project about expressing the good things in life.

Tea all comes from a plant originally—and that is indicative of everyone. We all come from the same place but try to make ourselves different. Those differences can be beautiful at times and sometimes they clash, unfortunately.

WCT: Would you like to have your own tea brand so you could sell it at the merch booth?

WW: I would love to have my own brand! What's the tea? It's me and I love every aspect of my queerness. I love both the comedy and the sincerity that comes with it. I will always show that part of myself in my work.

WCT: What is your favorite tea flavor?

WW: White plumb tea. I buy it from a shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. If it's just a basic tea then I enjoy Earl Grey.

WCT: Who is B. Heard on the Afternoon Tea track "Jasmine?"

WW: That is a rapper friend of mine who helped me come up with my name back in with grade. I finally got to have him on a project and it was a full-circle moment for me.

: Did you record the album in Arkansas?

WW: No, I made it in the Greater St. Louis area with a fantastic producer named Jesse Case. We recorded in his barn studio called Outsider Audio. Artists can stay at the top of the barn in a loft where there are bedrooms. In the morning I just walked downstairs and started creating music. We made two EPs there. This one and the next one.

WCT: So you have another EP ready to be released?

WW: Yes, after Afternoon Tea, the next one is called Another Cup. It could have been a whole album together but I didn't want this to be my first full-length. This is more of a concept project and I am proud of both of them!

WCT: How do you describe yourself as an artist to people who have not heard your music yet?

WW: If someone likes indie rap and neo soul then they will love what I am doing. I am somewhere between conscious and absurd with hip-hop. That is the level that I flow between.

I want everyone to feel good when they listen to my music and be seen!

WCT: How was your last show at Lincoln Hall?

WW: It was great and my first headlining show in Chicago. We did an interlude where I brought out a queer and beautiful character named Aunt Lucinda who answered silly questions from the audience. She is not on the level of RuPaul's Drag Race, but instead is everyone's favorite, out-of-touch, drunk aunt. She is fabulously rich, but we don't know how maybe from one of the four husbands that she has had!

I don't want my performances to ever be put in a box, so it is a lot of experimenting to see what works.

WCT: Are you planning any Pride gigs this summer?

WW: I will be out of the country for the first two weeks of June and then I plan on hitting Pride festivals after that throughout the summer.

Follow wicmakesmusic.com for this talented out performer's upcoming out-on-the-road tour dates, including the music festival South by Southwest in March.


This article shared 6877 times since Thu Feb 15, 2024
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