RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST WILL WOOD
What made you decide to become a soloist?
My first piano teacher, Glinda, had this habit of grabbing my hands and mashing them into the right position when I messed up. I hated being corrected about something that I felt was supposed to be about self-expression, I guess. After a particularly rough lesson she had a stroke while walking down the front steps of my house. It was then that I sort of realized just how powerful musical self-expression can be.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Uh, I guess questions like “when did you get your start” and “what are your influences” can be a bit tiring. There’s no way to answer them honestly and also say anything interesting, so I’ve just goofed around with them a lot. Made up wacky stories and whatnot.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
I want to believe the Area 51 thing. I like the idea of it. I can’t say I fully subscribe to any conspiracy theories though, no. Except for the ones that are true.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Sure, I mean, we all buy things we don’t really need now and again. Not a ton though, since my hobbies/interests overlap with my work so much.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I’m actually answering these questions from the road right now, and so far basically every show I’ve played on this tour has been the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. The jokes are landing, the new songs are going over well, and I’m meeting some really cool people.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I had a gig recently where I essentially couldn’t do my show because the audience was so intense. Any time I tried to open my mouth a handful of kids would start screaming memes at me, trying to one-up punch lines, demand I say or sing certain things, or just try to say something to provoke me. A couple of them apparently even threw things at me for giggles. Normally I can take a couple hecklers here and there, and I’ve had rough moments before, but at this show I was so thoroughly outnumbered by them and so sleep-deprived that I sort of gave up. Kept my head down and just tried to play enough songs to fill out my time so I could leave. It was one of my first shows since I developed a national following mid-pandemic, and I had already gotten the sense that much of my new fanbase and I didn’t understand one another, so I was terrified that all of my shows were going to be like that. I was proven very wrong by the following shows though, thankfully. The crowds have been amazing.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I’m rather proud of having continued to do things my own way despite the insistence I do stuff the same way bands on major labels or online content creators do it and the ire it gets me now and again. I have my own ideas, my own beliefs, and my own goals; and they quite simply aren’t in line with industry conventions. Even when it confuses people or they get angry at me, I’ve stuck to my guns and only ever compromised on what I feel is fair to compromise on.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
A lot of people have now spent years indoors inside online echo chambers they were pushed into by algorithms designed to make us angry and wrong about everything, and subsequently surrounded by equally manipulated people who create a culture that validates all of their worst instincts. It’s how you get incels, stalkers, and all different kinds of extremes. With young people being more neuroplastic, these predatory companies have an easy time fucking with their brain chemistry.
Kids constantly being intentionally chemically riled up and told even their most fleeting emotions are critical matters of social justice (i.e. Mistki being “ableist” for expressing that having her audience be on their phones through a whole concert makes her job harder) and having any feelings at all is mental illness, while having a huge lack of experience in real-world social situations is causing a lot of trouble at shows and in fandom culture for a lot of my fellow artists. Veteran musicians seem shocked at how much concerts have changed since 2019. Parents need to get these kids off social media immediately. It’s bringing sickness to a lot of young people, who are going to have a lot of difficulty growing up. Some of the behavior I’ve seen or been a victim of by young people being egged on by their online communities is beyond reprehensible.
The thing that makes me angry about it really is knowing that young people are supposed to be the ones willing to question authority and corporate influence on society, yet it’s young people above all else who have been duped into thinking Twitter is the “democratization of media” and TikTok and Instagram are anything other than a feed of propaganda and corporate psy-ops custom-tailored to emotionally destabilize and manipulate you based on the specific individual insecurities and neuroses the surveillance A.I.’s have figured out about you.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
Right now I’m really enjoying one called “Cicada Days,” which will be coming out pretty soon.
I hear you have a new single/album/ep, what can you tell us about it?
It’s called “In Case I Make It.” It’s more directly personal than my previous releases, and it’s much more detailed and complicated while also appearing simpler on the surface. The lyrics aren’t as mired in fancy near-gibberish abstractions or showy rhyme schemes and flow, and the music is much more intentionally and carefully orchestrated. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by the sounds I experiment with on this one.
It’s reflective of a lot of personal change and growth I’ve gone through over the past couple years. It might be my last one. At least for a long time.
Talk me through the thought process of the release?
After putting out The Normal Album I had a mild mental health crisis. I was convinced I was being watched at all times and that I was going to die. And I had felt so misunderstood by the new listeners who had suddenly appeared that I felt I needed to put one last piece of music out that really showed who I actually am before I died. So I decided I’d put together an album called “In Case I Die.” But I didn’t die, so now we have “In Case I Make It.”
What was the recording process like?
It was very different from previous ones, because I never met up with the band ahead of time. I instead used MIDI to fully compose the songs ahead of time and share that with the core four-piece I usually play with, and then the choir and string section and additional horn players. So I basically recorded this whole album with this whole orchestra on it twice, which gave me a lot of time to adjust, experiment, and learn.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I’ll probably do a little more touring if this one I’m currently on goes well, but after that I’m going to have to take some time to myself to think.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I think that we’re gonna start seeing a lot of artists take long hiatuses or outright quit in the near future. It’s hard to want to pursue the arts with things being how they are in our culture right now.