Last fall, music producer and sound designer So Wylie pioneered what can only be called bird beat. The genre was born from her discovering the insistent call of the Saw-whet Owl, using that sound as the key sample in a pounding, immensely catchy instrumental, and posting the results on TikTok. A few months later, Wylie’s not only created a bunch of follow-up bird beats but she has also been embraced by communities of online birders eager to hear their avian pals feature on her releases.
The National Audubon Society, a bird conservation group, interviewed Wylie for a story about her work, which now spans the original Saw-whet Owl track and songs based on the calls of the Hermit Thrush, Common Potoo, Eastern Screech Owl, Barred Owl, and more. She says she approaches each tune the same way she would when using other samples, hearing a given bird’s song, and then finding the right tempo and chords to accompany it.
“The birding community was so much more powerful than I had originally realized,” Wylie says while mentioning the kind of feedback she’s received for her work. When discussing which birds she’ll base songs on next, Wylie states that “The Eastern Whip-poor-will hive is very strong” and that “a lot of people have been very excited” about her using a Canyon Wren sample—which she now has.
Now partially inducted into the Cult Of Bird, Wiley says that she might try birding herself when the pandemic is over since she now “[knows] where to go and who to call if I want to go see some birds.” She’s also considering making an entire album of bird beats.
Send Great Job, Internet tips to firstname.lastname@example.org