Sink your teeth into I Can Go To Bed Whenever, the debut album from trailblazing singer-songwriter Willa Amai.
You know we here at Wonderland love a rising star. There’s just something so magical about seeing someone soar straight over the precipice of global fame into a career that will change the lives of so many – and the tunes that come with it all aren’t half bad either.
But Willa Amai is more than that, this is a musical prodigy whose voice speaks for a generation so unlike all those before. The sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter is currently under the mentorship of 4 Non Blondes’ Linda Perry, and for the last few months she’s been slogging it hard to prepare for the release of her debut album, I Can Go to Bed Whenever. Having already garnered nearly 5 million streams worldwide, Amai is blazing a trail of heart-wrenching honesty with her tunes, showcasing talent in its most raw and captivating of states.
The 12-track offering, released this Friday, aims to give fans a fresh insight into the mind of the emerging star, starting off with an emotive triumph titled “Fallout”. Tinged with subtle touches of folk and country, the result is a harmony so serene, so electrifying, and so atmospheric you’ll be left reeling just minutes into your first listen. Might we suggest grabbing some tissues, otherwise you may never truly survive the fallout.. *badum, chh*. “Not A Soldier” follows behind, adding emphasis to the star’s commanding vocal presence. With a touch of the beloved 2000’s ballad a la Christina Aguilera, Amai’s emotions run wild around heavy drums and deep percussion to the tune of a marching troop headed into battle. But just know that in this war of words, no one could ever come out on top when faced against this singer.
Tracks like “Puzzle”, “Like I Want You To” and “The Beautiful” continue this anthemic vibe, tugging on heartstrings and unlocking memories aplenty as they stir up all those emotions we hide in the deepest recesses of our hearts and heads. Thank goodness she doesn’t charge for therapy just yet, because our bill would unfurl into a medieval scroll at least 50 miles long.
That about brings us to standout gems “Too Close” and “Twice”, peppering the mix by picking up our woes and dashing them to side for a few minutes of unfurling sonic bliss. Yes, we might’ve stopped dwelling on our problems, but now we just want to become singers too. As we approach the end of this masterpiece, a palpable shift can be felt, be it with the riveting guitars of “Hurricane” or the rabid chanting of “Blows By”. Such a change in pace captures that flippancy of our coming of age, where life isn’t all that bad, and, sometimes, it can even be quite beautiful.
Before we finish our listen, we thought we’d catch up with the star herself, delving into just how she constructed such an insane array of tunes, and what she hopes the near future holds. Take a look below…
Hey Willa! How are you? How has this past year been for you?
Hi! Thank you guys so much for taking the time to talk to me. At the moment I’m incredibly elated; these past few weeks of preparing for the release of my debut album, I Can Go to Bed Whenever, has been a dream come true. My blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this body of work, and I truly couldn’t be more excited to get to share it now. Music life aside, though, the past year has definitely been difficult, I know it has been for everyone, but I also know I’ve been so blessed for all the people I have in my life.
You’ve recently been made ambassador of NAMI, what was it like receiving this news? And what does it mean to you?
Becoming an ambassador of NAMI meant and continues to mean so much to me. Mental health and the de-stigmatization of it has always been one of the main points of my platform since I started pursuing music as a career, so to have NAMI recognize me as an ally to the community brought me so much joy. Having been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder very young, I’ve known my whole life what it feels like to feel emotionally isolated from those around you. At the same time, though, my family supported me at every step of the way, and I’m happy to say that I’m in the healthiest place I’ve ever been. I know how lucky I am to have come through the light on the other end of that mental health tunnel, and it’s all credited by my amazing support network, so now I want to pay that forward and be that support network for somebody else, maybe somebody who doesn’t have the luxury of having the family and friends I have.
And you’ve just dropped your new single “Too Close” talk us through the production process and creation?
Creating “Too Close” was honestly different from all the other music on my album. For the most part, I try my best to preserve the song in as holistically of a way as I can throughout the process. I rarely change things drastically in a song from the way I originally wrote it, and when I do change big things I don’t tend to like them as much. With “Too Close”, though, I really laboured over it. I changed it all throughout the process, but genuinely felt like I was improving it. I think it was important for me to write; I needed evidence that sometimes changing a song from its original form improves it and isn’t necessarily tampering with the authenticity of the music.
Talk to us on the meaning of the song, what made you focus on that topic?
“Too Close” is effectively about claustrophobia. The entire album documents my coming of age story and all the emotions that come with it, so “Too Close” grapples with this idea of feeling there’s no space between childhood and adulthood. I felt like I was never given any in-between period of not being a child but not having to constantly worry about who I’ll be and what I’ll do
as an adult.
Granted, my own anxiety made me worry about those things more often than the normal teenager might, but from being around my friends I’ve realized we all have this communal anxiety around feeling like we had no time to readjust from making friends on the playground to learning how to write a resume, trying to capture ourselves on a piece of paper. But I want the song to be able to mean something different to everybody; we all feel emotionally claustrophobic around something. It doesn’t have to be age for you, specifically, as the listener. I want it to be what you want it to be.
Who would you cite as your inspirations?
I have so many inspirations it’s hard to list them all! I’d say for this album that my biggest musical inspiration was Fleetwood Mac. Their Rumours album and the way all the songs bleed into each other without feeling repetitive created a feeling I really chased with this album. Linda Perry will always be a huge source of inspiration to me; Linda was the inspiration for the ambition that has made this album what it is. But I was also influenced by so many other artists as I wrote the music. Florence and the Machine, Don McLean, Elton John, Brandi Carlile, and many, many more.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
Honestly, I don’t know exactly what’s next for me! I definitely have a couple of really exciting things coming up that I won’t divulge at the moment, but for the most part I’m doing what I’ve always done: gone where my music has taken me.