Civil Serpent

Civil Serpent

Meet Tri Angle Records's newest artist.

Meet Tri Angle Records's newest artist.

Photography: Fumi Nagasaka

Styling: Julian Antetomaso

Text: T. Cole Rachel

When asked if he always knew that he’d be a singer, 27-year-old Josiah Wise—better known as serpentwithfeet—can only laugh. “I always had big ambitions,” he says. “I wrote a letter to Oprah when I was really, really little basically telling her that I wanted to be the first child talk show host. As a kid, I remember every day waiting for a phone call from Oprah being like, ‘I’m going to give you money to start your own talk show!’ When that didn’t happen, I had to figure out other ways to express myself…and then I just never stopped.”

After years studying as a classical vocalist, the Baltimore-born artist spent time drifting around Paris and London before eventually landing in NYC. It was there that his music—a beautiful confluence of gospel and classically-inflected electronica—began to truly take shape. “It took a while, but I started to wonder if I could make something that satisfies other people and myself,” he recalls. “I want the music to resonate with people. I didn’t start thinking about that until I moved to New York, to be honest.”

This fall, Wise will release blisters, his first official debut as serpentwithfeet. With production from avant-electronic mastermind the Haxan Cloak, the EP is a remarkable showcase for Wise’s powerhouse voice. Given that he credits both Brandy and Beyoncé as inspirations, it’s not surprising that serpentwithfeet treads a fine line between emotive gospel and left-of-center R&B. “It feels very free because I also feel very free,” he says. “I don’t feel like being gay restricts me. In the same way, I also don’t feel like being black restricts me. In fact, it only makes me more interesting. Making music has always been about making a space for myself in the world. My theory has always been that if you walk into a room and say, ‘This is my room’—it’s your room. The end.”

COAT JUUN.J SKIRT, SCARF, JEWELRY SERPENTWITHFEET’S OWN
Credits:

MAKEuP CEDRIC JOLIVET (SEE MANAGEMENT)  HAIR MARCO BRACA (KRAMER+KRAMER)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS EDUARDO SILVA AND KOHEI KAWASHIMA  STYLIST ASSISTANT ANGELA BRAIDI  RETOUCHING URBAN PRINT AND MOTION  LOCATION ROOT STUDIOS

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