Nashville singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Anne Buckle is the visionary behind artist moniker WILDWOOD, where she has amassed over 2 million streams on Spotify alone. Anne acts as co-producer on all her recordings and is a champion for women working in all facets of the music business. On her way to becoming WILDWOOD, Anne got a master’s at Harvard, worked for U.S. Embassy in Paris, and served as an education policy advisor for the Governor of Tennessee.

As WILDWOOD, she has shared the stage with the late Charlie Daniels, toured with Augustana, opened for The Chicks on their 2016 World Tour, and performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

How did you get to where you are now?

The genesis of this new record was in summer 2020, after I had COVID-19. As a songwriter in Nashville, I’ve spent years writing hundreds of songs, but I’ve only released a few – mostly out of fear of them not being ‘perfect’ or ‘ready.’ But after being sick, I gained a new outlook on life, realizing we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t released more of my music.

The day I got out of quarantine, I wrote “Firefly” (the project’s first single) in about 30 minutes as a message to myself to not waste any more of my precious days. After that, I sat down with my producer Brandon Metcalf and said, “I want to make my record.” So here we are, about to release the second single off the project, with a full debut, self-titled album on vinyl coming out in January. 

What is the favorite song you wrote and why? 

‘“Firefly” is one of my favorite songs off the WILDWOOD record because it’s got such a personal message that resonates with me. The lyrics are words I need to hear and remind myself of daily, particularly in the third verse: “don’t hold back and don’t hit snooze, you’ll only regret the things you didn’t do.” With any album, as the artist and producer, you hear a song hundreds of times over the course of the creative process, and usually I tend to get sick of my own songs before they’re even released. But not “Firefly.” Even after its release this June, I still find myself listening to it on repeat, and its message doesn’t get old.

Who are your all time musical icons?

I’m all over the place when it comes to musical icons! As a kid, Shania Twain was a huge icon to me – her pop/rock crossover style was so fresh and innovative, and she was also a rare brunette among blonde female country artists at the time, and that really resonated with me as a brunette myself. The late Edith Piaf, a French singer, has also been a huge influence, with a raw emotion in her vocal that can cut through old crackling vinyl. Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman were some of the first songwriters I fell in love with thanks to the magic of Disney.

Now I especially look up to Lori McKenna and Allen Shamblin, songwriters who aren’t afraid to go deep with their lyrics in an industry that tends to prefer up-tempo jams over meaningful ballads. Harmonically, I’ve been shaped by everyone from the French Impressionists, especially Claude Debussy, to The Beatles. A classically trained violinist with a family who were all in country, folk, and gospel music, I truly am all over the place when it comes to musical icons and influences.

What are some things to do to keep your inspiration alive?

Sometimes inspiration flows like a waterfall; others, it’s as dry as a desert. To help stay inspired, I started a songwriting group a while back with a dozen friends of mine where every month, we’re challenged to write one new song that includes a specific word in it at least once. (I actually got the idea from Glen Phillips, lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, when I heard him speak at Durango Songwriters Fest out in California a few years ago. He shared that he did this sort of thing, and it inspired me to want to create a similar group.)

The word changes every month; for example, a word might be “green” or “trip” or “beautiful” etc. It’s wild how creative your brain can get when you have a specific task to accomplish. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by how inspired we’ve been from a one-word prompt and a little help from our friends. The accountability piece also definitely helps, knowing you have to perform your new song for a group of peers every month. Sometimes a deadline is all you need to find a little inspiration! (A few songs from my new record actually came from this exercise, so you’ll have to guess which ones might have been started with a prompt!)

Who are you binge listening to these days?

I am currently binge listening to Matchbox Twenty, Anna Nalick, Sixpence None the Richer, and Hootie & the Blowfish. I go through seasons, but right now, I’m on a nostalgic 90s kick, for sure.

Favorite movie or TV show?

Gilmore Girls, no question.

Tell us about your latest release and how it came about

My debut WILDWOOD record is actually a double album with two musically contrasting sides: side a: the Wild Side (a collection of songs that have more edgy, pop production), and side b: the Woods (songs that are more stripped down, acoustic).

We decided to release a group of songs from the Woods to kick things off this summer, and “Firefly” was a natural choice to lead off with, coinciding with the fireflies coming out in June.

Do you have any peculiar pre or post show rituals?

Post-show, I like to get a McDonald’s ice cream cone. This started back when I used to play the Bluebird Cafe’s Sunday writers nights in Nashville pretty regularly. There’s a McDonald’s right next to the Bluebird, and something about those golden arches would catch my eye every time I was driving home after a show! Now it’s like psychologically engrained: “play a show, eat a McDonald’s ice cream cone.”

What’s the future looking like for you?

The next six months are full of releasing new music: singles, EPs, and eventually the full album in January. Not sure what touring is going to look like in this post-pandemic world, but I’m focused on releasing new music and lots of music videos right now.

Who inspires your style and aesthetics?

I spent almost a year of my life living in Paris, France in my early 20s, and I’ve been obsessed with French style and sensibility ever since. I’d say the average Parisian femme is who inspires me in terms of her style, confidence, sophistication, and je ne sais quoi. Even in the music, you’ll sometimes notice an accordion or gypsy jazz fiddle make its way into the production – that’s 100% inspired by my days in Paris.

What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?

When I first moved to Nashville years ago, I would drive by the Bluebird Cafe and dream of playing there one day. It was renowned for hosting some of the world’s greatest songwriters and artists, and it was the legendary venue where Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks had both been “discovered.” It was also teeny, tiny. Modest. Humble. I loved it.

A few months into my time in Nashville, I auditioned to play their Sunday writers night. Weeks later, I got the news that I’d passed the audition and was invited to play there. It was the first time a big music dream of mine turned into reality. Even now, after dozens of Bluebird shows and hundreds of other performances on stages as grand as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, getting that email saying I’d been invited to play the Bluebird’s Sunday writers night is still one of my proudest achievements as a songwriter and artist.

What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?

Write great songs. Record those great songs. And then get them onto the internet! The world is truly your stage with so many opportunities for discovery online, and some of your biggest fans may not even be in your country. Geographic borders don’t matter any more; your music can reach so many with digital distribution. And you can do it all yourself.

What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year?

Pre-pandemic, it was already hard to make a living as an artist. When live performances were taken away, it got even harder. If I could change one thing about the music industry, it’d be to pay artists, songwriters, producers, and other music creators higher royalty rates for digital streams and plays.

What we make is a fraction of a cent on each stream, and it’s not something that’s possible to make a living on without supplementing touring, merch sales, and even other side hustles in most cases for indie artists like me. The music recordings themselves don’t make that much any more (compared to physical album sales in the past), so if I could change anything, it’d be to increase the value of digital music recordings so that creators could be paid more fairly for their work.