On New York three-piece Wet’s self-titled debut EP, released last fall, the arrangements are spare and intimate, the better to feature frontwoman Kelly Zutrau, her voice rooted in the quavering strength of country divas and Brandy’s polished, MTV soul. On the EP’s “Dreams,” she sings about the paralysis that accompanies not knowing when it’s time to move on from a failing relationship; on “Weak,” an unreleased song Wet plays live, she thanks a lover who’s worthy enough to put her “on her knees.” Her emotions are all over the place and can pivot on a dime, but she shares them proudly. “My strength is being honest,” she says. “Like, it’s not anything else.” With its anthemic melodies and confessional themes, Wet suggests that there’s power and purpose in bearing feelings plain.
In person, at a bar near the trio’s Brooklyn practice space, Zutrau is slight but athletic, with a square jaw and an unguarded, no-bullshit manner. Wet’s songs are similarly tough, and she credits this to the value her mother placed on intuitive judgment. “My mom’s very unfilter-ed,” she says. “She’s intelligent but not super intellectual—she’s an emotionally smart person. She didn’t care if we got a good grade on a paper.” A self-identified “bad” reader and writer, Zutrau felt trapped in high school, so she dropped out. With a GED and encouragement from art teachers, she was accepted at New York’s Cooper Union, where she studied painting.
When Wet performs the song for a sold-out crowd in New York last November, girls in the audience know the words and mouth them quietly. Onstage, Zutrau is formidable but cautious and doesn’t bother to make banter. This winter, Wet’s members quit their jobs and talked to labels—both majors and major indies—attracted by how many times Wet’s tracks were clicked online and by the way they hit people in the gut and stick in their heads. “Cool and emotional are supposed to be separate, but that’s changing,” Zutrau says, sounding both relatable and marketable. “People just want to feel like you’re giving them something. Here’s a part of me that’s a secret, I’m opening up to you. That’s what everyone wants.”
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Wet play tonight, February 6th, with GEMS and Lolawolf at Westway in New York. Get tickets here.