The artist talks his debut album i, the bastard and why he decided to leave indie-pop force Evergreen.
Joining the new wave of urban folk emerging from the UK is rising Lewisham-hailed singer-songwriter Wassailer with his debut album i, the bastard. Effortlessly gliding between the likes of Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, the singer provides us with a cocktail of electro-pop melodies and neo-soul sensibilities for his debut album, gently easing us in with thought-proving lyricism and calming vocals. The second outing from the album, “242” brings us into an atmospheric soundscape where unpredictable instrumentals and dubstep-influenced rhythms run wild. Whereas his third offering “Ghosts” pulls us into a bluesy haze with smooth jazz elements and laidback vocals.
Speaking on “Ghosts”, the artist revealed, “At a time where I had to be a waiter and a teacher, as well as being a full-time professional musician (as it wasn’t enough to survive London’s rent), I felt a bit confused by the millions the royal family received to refurbish their own palaces. I suppose I don’t really understand the general concept, but that’s probably because I was raised with stupid values like sharing and working and all that. Anyway, I was also working on productions for and with my good friend DemiMa at home, and we came up with this idea of invisible ghosts wandering in empty palaces. Johnny was also around a lot in the flat at that time, and one night he literally grabbed his horns and improvised and, well, genius, innit?”
No newcomer to the scene, Will was previously apart of indie-pop piece Evergreen, before amicably departing from the group three years ago to discover his own sound. Telling stories the way he wants to now, the artist caught up with us talking finding his own sound, working solo and his creative process into creating his debut album.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Will! What’s lockdown been like for you?
Close to hell at first to be honest. I was already done producing my debut album, so there was only mix touches and mastering left to do, and I felt restless after all this time writing and recording. With absolutely no opportunity to play live, I started to have cluster headaches, anxiety etc which I’m definitely not the only one to have experienced in these strange times, especially when you’ve based your entire life around live performances, gatherings and what have you. But eventually, I found resources within me and with new music, and got back on my feet, and managed to stay productive.
Has it affected your creativity in anyway?
I keep saying this pandemic has brought the best and the worst of people. Probably like a war would do. The ones that have some positive energy, whether it’s innate or earned, have become better versions of themselves somehow, but the ones who were already struggling lost their last inch of hope, and did struggle even more, unfortunately. I guess I experienced both, with the lowest I’ve ever been in life, and somehow I also had amazing creativity impulses, group shared works and collective songwriting, producing music videos with a whole team of dancers I met in a park etc. So I’d say, yes, it has affected my lifestyle, therefore my creativity, as it’s hard to compartmentalise either of them.
You’re no newcomer to music as you apart of indie-pop group Evergreen, what made you want to release a solo record and album?
Truth be told, I left the band 3 years ago, but we didn’t want to make a fuss about it, as we’re still super friends anyway. But the main reason was that I felt I had things to say in a different way, I was driven by something new, which could not exist within this band. My solo debut is very intimate, very raw sometimes, personal and clumsy for sure, and I wanted to own it, even my mistakes. I took risks, and with other artistic inputs involved, it would have been a different story, these choices of sound, of lyrics, of melodies, would’ve been subdued. I made this album from A to Z, from one angle, I suppose you have to overcome your fears and that’s what’s exciting, scary, yet I learned a lot in the whole process. It’s a very different approach.
What’s the biggest different between working in a group in comparison to working solo?
The thing is, I love working with others, I do actually have a band now, for all the live shows and I’ve worked with DemiMa & Johnny Woodham on “Ghosts” as well. My flatmate Nick is always listening and singing me back melodies he likes which is very useful to have some perspective. Max and Jarrad who mixed and mastered the record were very important in the process too. You can’t do everything on your own really. However, it’s about the writing process, I always felt it was something so special, so private, that it’s hard to share because your ideas have to go in the wrong directions first. You got to hit the wall, try out ways of saying things that don’t make sense at the start, sometimes it’s outrageous what you write or the way you sing, but it’s necessary to go through that to find the best way, the one that feels right, and I think I’m way too shy to expose myself at that stage of the writing.
Congratulations on you’re debut album! How would you describe the creative process and production?
Thanks a lot, by the way, I’m gassed about this release. I think when I decided I was gonna finish these songs and do an album, I said to my mum something like “alright, this is it, last game, I’ll give it all, I’ll strip naked and get it all out”, that was the intention at first. Almost more like a confession, or a recap, but then I ended up writing new songs and found a way to build this album as a whole. The story of my life in London, in separations and in despair sometimes, but in music really. Everything that went through my ears for all these years became sacred, I’m easily influenced, and I wanted to convey this through the songs, the arrangements, to be 100% honest, to own my contradictions, even if that meant being wrong, at least it was real. And then it’s about the voice acceptance. I couldn’t wait any longer to release the songs, I thought, fuck it, I’ll sing it all myself, and had to accept my vocals for what they are. I’m not a great singer, nor a great guitarist or producer, but that’s how I write songs and at least they exist, they’re out now and I’m proud of it.
How did you navigate creating this project during lockdown? Did you face any challenges?
Some luck, some bad luck. David, who was introduced to me via Empty Streets Records, was looking for music for his video ideas, and we both fell in love with each other’s works, so bless lockdown for that. Now I’ll be honest, it’s devastating to not be able to play live. Even when let’s say I, perform one gig, it gives jobs to six musicians, a sound engineer, a venue, bar staff, taxis, restaurants, and it entertains around 100 people – so shutting down one gig is a big deal. It’s sad to see the entire culture world shut down like that, as non-essential when it’s common knowledge that it’s more than necessary for everyone’s sanity to dive into the arts, not only to open your mind but also to survive difficult times. If things keep going like that, (i.e. less and less money in the arts industries, very little support), there’ll be nothing to watch, nothing to listen to, nothing to look at, and only youngsters in search of exposure will distract us, online, and for free.. that’s no good future, in my opinion, long term speaking. I hope we’ll manage to work hand in hand and make things get better soon.
Which song from the album stands out the most to you and why?
I think “Son” is probably the strongest tune, in the way it’s got such a folk structure and yet a modern production at least it’s the loudest ha. But to me it’s the songwriting that matters more, as productions are just trends, it comes and goes, but songs, they overtake time, if it’s good it stays forever. So maybe “Miss Trolleys” and “242” are good songs in that sense too. It’s so hard to separate one from another though, it’s an ensemble. “Settlement” would probably not work that well without “Three Dots In A Bubble” before, and “Trad” only exists because of the intro “Foreplay”.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
Festivals. Festivals. Festivals. I’m also producing and writing with a girl from Huddersfield called Penny, and also in the process of collaborating with friends in Ireland, Sweden, so hopefully, loads of interesting music to be released throughout 2021!