Greeting the tall, suavely dressed 23 year old musician, my hand goes to shake his, yet instead of standard handshake, I opt for a ‘unique’ thumb-shake. This is not because I am far too alternative for a mainstream greet – I physically can’t due to wet hands thanks to a broken hand dryer in the toilets. A typical Jess moment like this was bound to happen, yet Willy’s poised stance is not affected, though a hint of confusion emerges. I laugh, trying to conceal a slightly awkward situation, and a flicker of a smile appears on his face – but nothing more.
This is not to say Willy is not friendly – his polite, modest and distant persona makes him instantly respectable. The chiselled cheekbones which slightly protrudes on his face and his sharply shaped black suit give him the look of a model – there is no doubt that his presence in the Brighton student pub we’re in is known to many instantly. It seems that Willy has a rare ability to attract attention and command status, though not forcibly – instead, simply by his appearance and stratosphere of cooooool which he effortlessly radiates. Yet, with this air of sophistication and presence comes a juxtaposition of earthliness: he tells me he’s already been to the student pub we are in, and tells me that no man should ever wear shorts, for male legs are ‘ugly’.
He is at an exciting time in his life: he’s finished a UK and US tour, and just released his debut album, ‘Here’s Willy Moon’. Debut albums are no easy feat, nor a relaxing time, for debut albums let the world know who you are and what you want to say. But for Willy, finishing his album is more than just finishing a set of songs: it’s one of the biggest transitions in his life to date.
“It’s great to have finished something and to achieve something with my life… to feel like I’ve made something, and I’ve got something to show for all this effort that I’ve put in. It’s also a great feeling – suddenly, I have a new lease on life because… I can start again. It feels like being at the beginning again. It’s a really wonderful feeling. It’s like I’ve never made any music and I’m just starting again and it’s working out.”
Spending about two years producing the album – which he started doing at home, teaching himself – means that each song has been skilfully crafted, scrutinised by Willy’s passion for music and drive for perfection, and therefore completed with every song sounding unique.
“I always wanted to make it so that each song sort of has an identity, and has its own sound. I really hate listening to albums that, after hearing the first couple of songs, you feel like you know what the rest of the album is gonna sound like, it’s just gonna be variations of that. So I always wanted to make a record which, I suppose, while maintaining some theme so it all hangs together as a whole, also make a record which feels exciting and you don’t know what the next track is going to sound like.
That’s what I love about music: I love its unpredictability. It’s, you know, what’s incredible about making music; you don’t know what’s gonna come out. You can try, you can do things that you know what’s gonna happen and how it’s gonna sound, but through the process of actually doing it, you end up going down a different pathway, or getting led down some strange alleyway that you didn’t expect.”
And the track ‘Yeah Yeah’ demonstrates exactly that. Produced early last year, Willy describes the track as an ‘experiment’, and the genius concoction of a song that emerged found success after being used for an iPod advert – his first taste of what lengths his career could reach.
“It was sort of an experiment in trying to build a song completely out of samples, and how that would work. Having recorded nothing apart from vocals – it was a challenge that I set for myself because I was bored. A lot of my music comes out of that. I’m always trying to challenge myself because that’s what makes it, that’s what I find inspiration from. Otherwise it goes stale. I always try and set myself tasks when I’m writing a song.
I try and make it different – as varied as I can every time, because otherwise you fall into the same pattern. It’s very easy to become complacent and do the same thing over and over again, especially if you make a song and it feels like it works, you go OK… I could just rewrite that song ten times and make an album, which is what a lot of people do when they’re making records. It would be no fun for me.”
This emphasis on ‘fun’ is what makes the products of Willy’s creativity so expressive – his music is not made to follow a specific genre, or fall under a certain requirement; it is made from a blend of curiosity, passion, talent and challenging factors. An ‘office job’ is what Willy thinks his job would be otherwise, which wasn’t his ‘dream’.
“My dream of making music was to be able to have this wonderful experience and life to be constantly stimulating, creatively… which is a very lucky thing, a very special thing which most people don’t get to experience.
I make music that I want to make, and I would of course hope that there would be a large amount of people who would appreciate my music. The more people that appreciate my music, the better, for me. But, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice what I’m into and what I love, purely for chart success. I don’t really see myself doing a song with David Guetta or something. As much as it would probably make me a lot of money, it would be great in many ways, but I think I’d go home and just feel like a bit of an arsehole.
But, I would love to have chart success, to reap my own music, to reach the masses. It would be fantastic. I’d love to go and play shows to ten, twenty thousand people. It would be incredible. That’s my dream, and hopefully, I will get there, but I wanna get there through being myself and being individual.
I’ve always liked people that followed their own stars, and done well, and sort of came into the pop charts by accident, almost. Well, by design by accident in the sense that the pop world almost comes to you rather than you going to it.”
It’s this sense of individuality that is rooted deep in the cruxes of what Willy Moon is all about, and runs parallel in his appearance, his mannerisms and his music. His wide understanding of music from the last hundred years gives him an academic knowledge of how music is constructed, which allows him the flexibility to linger over many different genres at once, frolicking with hip hop beats but combining with 1950 rock and roll tunes. And it’s this which is bound to attract Willy attention – and probably some negative attention, too. His music is so different, so isolated from the masses of modern music that it is likely that some will not respond well to it. But, like he has said himself, he wants to be successful by keeping to his own design – without being influenced by the commodities of selling music and attempting to be in the charts. And I do believe that this will do Willy well – people crave differences, especially people that will be likely to be listen to his music, which makes Willy Moon stand on a podium higher than many other musicians. What is more exciting, however, is that he’s new to music; his talent can be refined even further.
“Especially the past couple of years, it’s everything I ever think about. In every sense: whether I’m playing shows or writing music or producing music or anything else. It’s just… it’s consuming.
I’m just learning so much. Every time I go out and play a show I learn something. Every time I make a song, I learn something. Hopefully, in five years time, I will still feel like that. The main thing is for me, that in five years time I still feel excited about the idea of making music. And if I don’t, then I would hope that I’d be doing something different.
Otherwise what’s the point? Life’s too short. Try and love what you do.”
Willy Moon’s album, Here’s Willy Moon, is out NOW, buy it here: or go to Amazon where you can buy it for a special price of £3.99.
-Interview by Jessica Bryan