Zoe Wise

In perfect solitude where the water meets the edge of Chicago’s lakefront, singer-songwriter Xoe Wise strums her acoustic guitar while singing of a relationship’s fate which has been “written on the wall” in her brand new video for “Blue Wall.”

The introspective slow-burner – written in pre-pandemic times for her new album Air, released on July 31, 2020 – encapsulates the loneliness of being in a relationship nearing its end while the DIY video’s visuals capture the isolation of our modern times. It’s a vision of Chicago and its “light blue gemstones” shining in spite of an eerie lack of normalcy.


“Being brave with relationships and figuring out things during a pandemic has made me braver in terms of being an artist,” said Wise of releasing Air during these unprecedented times. “No matter what, right now, being able to share with each other is going to keep our lines of humanity and communication open.”

Air explores Wise’s “dive into the real land of love,” foregoing the honeymoon phase for deeper intimacy. It has also ushered in an opportunity to support the music ecosystem she holds so dear by helping to Save Our Stages.

Since music venues are shutdown, Wise has been connecting with fans – and supporting small businesses impacted by the pandemic – with an innovative pop-up performance series known as Curbside Live. Fifty percent of proceeds raised at these events benefit a Chicago venue or independent business. They are an experience where the community comes together to enjoy music while having candid conversations about the many problems presently facing our society.

“Not only are the shows making me create and interact with fans in a more intimate way, but it’s also making me a better listener. I think therefore I’m going to be able to relate more to everyone. I hope it parallels where everybody is right now. Because of this time and energy change we all can become better listeners. It feels like a big piece of what it means to have connection in general,” said Wise.

August digital sales of Air will benefit Brave Space Alliance, an organization close to Wise’s heart.

“Brave Space Alliance is an amazing organization in Chicago,” explained Wise of the Black-led, trans-led center which provides a variety of services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of Chicago. “As a lesbian woman, I’ve really been aware lately of how inclusive Chicago is on the Northside in terms of the LGBTQ community. I’m super impressed by the work Brave Space Alliance is doing on the Southside of Chicago.”

Overall, Wise is optimistic that through community, conversation and action, we can overcome our greatest obstacles as a society during the pandemic and on the other side. She’s also a realist and encourages fans to keep thinking of big and small ways to ensure that Chicago’s music scene emerges stronger than ever.

“There are ways to pivot in the pandemic, to be creative and be a part of that wonderful optimism that’s going to keep us sane, but there is this reality,” she said. “I don’t want my optimism to be so toxic that I’m not looking at the truth of the matter which is that some venues might not make it. We should keep that awareness alive. There’s so many ways people can do that, whether or not you’re raising funds directly, you can help by keeping the conversation and the tone real.”

Air is available on Bandcamp and more information about Xoe Wise can be found at Xoewisemusic.com.

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Laurie Fanelli

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...