Micah E. Wood says he’s just one of those people who can’t stop creating.
“If I stop creating,” he says, “then I get sad or anxious.”
Wood, 26, is a singer, songwriter and producer who is well known in Baltimore’s music scene. His deeply personal yet upbeat songs — which he describes as falling somewhere between pop, soul and alternative rock — tackle the emotional aspects of modern life: romantic breakups, online dating and general existential angst.
Wood says his anxiety-laden music is cathartic for him and reflects on his personal experiences, including the deaths of loved ones, in a creative and open way.
On a recent blustery morning, Wood sat at a café in Canton shortly before heading off to his day job as a graphic designer at the Creative Alliance, a community arts center just blocks away in Highlandtown. Wood was hard to miss — tall but stocky, with thick-rimmed glasses, a red beard and two golden hoops in his right ear. He ordered chamomile tea.
“I’m doing this intermittent fasting thing,” he says, “so I can’t eat until the afternoon, but I can drink tea.”
Wood, a native of Newport News, Va., says much of his musical inspiration and influences comes from his family. His mother — a Jewish homemaker who for more than a quarter-century has sold homemade knit kippot — played a lot of soul and R&B when he was growing up.
“She only liked The Beatles after they started doing drugs,” he says with a smile.
Wood’s older brother also influenced him, introducing him to some of his favorite bands and musicians, including Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand and Kanye West.
As a teenager, Wood’s favorite band was The Hush Sound, a Chicago-based indie pop group. On one occasion, Wood persuaded his mom to drive him all the way to Baltimore to see the band perform, but she stipulated that he was required to tour the Maryland Institute College of Art while in Charm City.
“I didn’t even want to check out MICA at the time, but it was the only way for me to get a ride into Baltimore,” Wood recalls. “So I did, and I fell in love with it.”
On that trip, he also became friendly with Greta Morgan, lead singer of The Hush Sound, and began taking music lessons from her over Skype.
At one point, Morgan urged Wood to strike out on his own musically.
“Previously, I’d been writing songs for a band I played with in high school,” Wood says, “and Greta was telling me that [the songs] were getting pretty personal and that maybe I should be the one singing them. … I started singing on my own and eventually self-releasing my music.”
Wood, who graduated from MICA in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in photography, has self-released three albums so far. “See Me,” which was released last September, was profiled in Baltimore magazine’s December issue.
“Through tender electronic melodies and his trademark talk-sing, Wood reminds us of all the missed connections and second-guesses. He makes our hearts feel human again,” the reviewer raved.
In addition, The Baltimore Sun last December named Wood’s song “No Questions” one of the 30 Baltimore songs that defined 2017.
Wood plays regularly around town, but he also performs occasionally in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
“Micah has brought a fresh, infectious energy to the local scene,” says Lydia Woolever, a senior editor a Baltimore magazine. “Simply put, his music is just fun. His songs are honest, playful, and human, which makes them easy to connect with, and while he touches a lot on the highs and lows of love, there’s a buoyancy to each melody.”
Besides music, Wood is a photographer. In 2016, he self-published “Features,” a collection of local band portraits. “Features” was named “Best Photobook 2016” by the Baltimore City Paper and was displayed at music festivals here and in New York City. (Recently, Wood photographed R&B superstar SZA at Rams Head Live!)
“Hopefully, when we’re looking back on the Baltimore music scene decades from now, we look to Wood’s book like we look at the work of iconic photographer [David] Godlis when studying New York’s punk scene in the ‘70s,” wrote the City Paper.
Wood says he would eventually like to be creating art full time. “At some point, I would love to be working for myself doing music and photography — basically what I do when I get home every day,” he says.
Wood’s other big life goal is to eventually have a flavor — preferably with Oreos and peanut M&Ms — named after him at The Charmery, a popular ice cream shop in Hampden.
“Put that in writing,” Wood says. “This is the start to my ice cream campaign.”
Mark Satter is a Washington, D.C.,-based freelance writer.
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