Freshman art major Nick Sadowski, known almost exclusively as Wiley Bumtail, uses unconventional methods to create a unique blend of music, color, performance and creativity.
Bumtail has a neurological condition called Synesthesia, which links together and crosses the senses, as well as can create associations between things not typically associated. There are over 70 types of Synesthesia, of which Bumtail has three. His Synesthesia results in him being able to “see” colors in music, in numbers and letters and in the personalities of people, according to Bumtail.
Sporting a bright red streak of hair and red nail polish on his left hand, Bumtail likes to represent the color that he sees in himself and hopes to make others see it as well.
“For me, I’m red,” Bumtail said. “That’s just a fact. Each color pertains to a different thing. For example, [the number] four is orange and has its own personality. The same thing applies to music: each key has a different color. That’s part of how I write songs, I incorporate the color.”
One of his songs, “I Can Smell You,” which is available online, is representative of the color “snot green,” which is also the color of the G Minor key, Bumtail said. He often makes use of his Synesthesia for music composition and for memorization of long strings of numbers.
Since the age of 10, Bumtail said he has been playing guitar and is almost entirely self-taught in it, as well as in bass guitar, drums and piano. Though he usually plays an electric guitar, he is more known around campus for playing an acoustic guitar. On some weekends when the weather is nice, Bumtail can be found all around campus playing for people.
On April 1, Bumtail said he will be playing in the Battle of the Bands at Edwards Auditorium, hosted by Strike a Chord. He will be doing an acoustic set at this show.
“I feel like one of the best ways to be creative is to constrict yourself,” Bumtail said. “I have all these songs that are normally electric that I will be playing on acoustic guitar. That will be a challenge that I’m going to deal with.”
Bumtail played in the band “Gas Station Coffee” while he was in high school at School One in Providence, Rhode Island. Following the end of this band, he continued playing and writing music on his own. Bumtail said he has been torn over whether he would like to return to playing in a band or continue alone. For now, he wants to keep the project solo. Â
“I wonder about how I can stretch myself musically,” Bumtail said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to stray away from my musical ideals and what is really ‘myself.’ You can’t be everything. However, I’m still trying to push myself in unconventional ways.”
Lately, he has been experimenting with the idea of using a violin bow on his guitar, which has been producing some very interesting sounds that he would like to work more with, according to Bumtail.
“Creativity comes from constriction,” Bumtail said. “I also think there also needs to be a balance between skill, showmanship and creativity in the songs that one writes. A good balance between those three is what makes a really good musician.”
Information and music for Bumtail can be found online, including on iTunes and ReverbNation. Be sure to catch him at the Battle of the Bands on April 1, which is being organized by Strike a Chord. Proceeds from this event will be donated to local charity Horses Bring Hope.