Photo Credit: David McCluskie
We caught up with musician WILL C. prior to the release of his EP titled Outlier. Check out the in-depth interview below!
1. As far as producing goes, how would you characterize the sound you have?
My sound is based around the chords and emotion in general, to me, but people look at it from different angles. WondaGurl, Dauphin Amir, Mathaius Young and Tyler are my biggest influences, and I sort of mixed that in with what I grew up listening to. Heavy Gospel, soul heavy R&B and Kanye was my entry point into rap really. I was born in 1997 which was kinda the genesis of the neo-soul era so I have a wild love and connection to it. I'm always trying to take things kinda left because there is a whole generation of post-Wondagurl producers and post-Kanye rappers.
2. How do you incorporate your influences into your sound?
Well, rapping wise I just sort of pick up on what I like, but the obvious stuff I pick up, especially from newer artists, doesn't make the cut. I always wanna be original and offer a new perspective. My rap style is totally inspired by Earl and Kendrick. On a BBB I'm basically attacking the beat. Listening to Kendrick made me better on the mic. I'm more punctual than ever. Earl influenced me as a writer. As a producer, I can just use samples and certain things as callbacks to pay homage or bring a new perspective to an idea that influenced me. I feel like most young producers go through phases as they form their own sound. I went through my Tyler phase, I went through my Lex Luger phase. Now I have my own phase, Cleveland Bounce.
3. Who's someone (known/ or unknown) that has really impacted your music (i.e. Famous person or a family member) and why?
My mom was a DJ for years and my Dad was known around Cleveland for his singing ability so being around them influenced me always. That's where the gospel aspect comes from. My sister was one of the kids during the limewire era that had ALL the music and the mixtapes so through her I got put on to Kanye in like 03 along with all other types of stuff, but Kanye stuck the most cause I relate to him. Dauphin Amir executive produced my full length project BURGUNDY that I plan to put out in like May, he definitely gave me a lot of info that helped me as a producer. He's one of those producers that you wanna hear because you know they're ahead of the curve and have already figured out the next tic. WondaGurl is the same way.
4. Being a musician especially a rapper can be very difficult to keep pursuing because at times it feels like it's going no where. How do you cope with that and how do you remind yourself it is all worth it in the end?
It's definitely all worth it in the end, and it's all about believing in yourself and believing that you're doing what God called you to do. Being a creative that's trying to jump into an industry ran by non-creative people in order to reach your audience and gain a platform is stressful and depressing. And that's not even labels, that's just the blogs and small stuff. There's a lot of people I want to stunt on because there's a lot of emails sent from Will C that never got opened, there's a lot of messages sent from Will C that never were never replied to, but there will be a lot of seats filled at the Q for a Will C concert in the future. The gatekeepers are the worst thing about music because they make it less about the music and more about the clout. I don't care about looking important, and that's what they want in order to press play. I care about making great music and pushing the boundaries, so it may take time but I'm gonna get my shot and I won't miss because I've been practicing for 20,000 hours.
I believe I'm meant to put my message out there and have a positive impact. I think I'm gonna be writing Billboard smashes in the next 5 years. I have the ability, and even if no one else thinks I can do it, I will do it. I've been making music for 8 years so I've learned every aspect of it and I'm autonomous. On the last track of the EP "frank" I mention the 10,000 hours theory. I feel like I've put in 20,000. That's why I'm an "OUTLIER". Tae Miles is one too. I believe in him as much as I believe in me.
5. Where do you draw a lot of your inspiration from?
Tyler, Kevin Abstract, Kanye, Tarantino, Mandell Harrison, Frank Ocean and everybody that ever loved or hated me.
6. Was music something you always wanted to pursue? If not what else?
Since I was like 11 I've been trying to make music. That's the thing I really love to do and I'm above average at. Me and my best friend Mandell used to write scripts and film stuff around that age too but we went full in on the music as we grew older. I wanna return to screenwriting when I'm established in music for sure.
7. What does the title "outlier" mean and why was it chosen for the project?
OUTLIER is taken from Malcom Gladwell's book. It's about what sets successful and driven people apart. I have BURGUNDY on the way still, but OUTLIER felt right because this is my portfolio and my fresh start as I put my name out there. What better way to show who you are than to show that you're different?
8. When did you start working on this project?
In October. I made 'BBB' the same week that I released it and I knew it was a song I wanted put out before I even mixed it. The songs were made in this order: "AAA", "BBB", "CCC", "frank", "playground" so I knew where I was going to put each track when I named it. Mind you, I had already spent the first 4 months of the year making ESCAPE, an album that I scrapped, then the next 6 month making BURGUNDY, an album that I plan on putting out in May. And now these last two months making OUTLIER.
9. Where do you fit in the Cleveland music scene?
To me, the guys in Cleveland that I look up to or consider the big guys are Tae Miles, Shawn K and Bankie iZ. For the longest I wanted to be looked at as one of those top guys but I'm realizing my lane puts me more on the Internet and on different wavelengths so I'm not sure if I necessarily "fit in" but Cleveland is one of the most diverse and fruitful places right now and I've been saying for years that'll we'll be the next Chicago. As long as there's unity. I just wanna be respected for my work.
10. How has working with Cleveland artists like Tae Miles and Adi Rei influenced your new work?
Being on CurlPattern just boosted my confidence as a producer and lowkey my reach as a producer. I connected with a lot of people from that. And listening to Tae helped me figure out how I want to sequence my next full length project. It reminded me to not stop at one phase of the song. There's a version of Bantu Knots over my beat that he tweeted a snippet of. And obviously LaLaLand was released over his own beat on the last album and we gave it a new texture for CurlPattern. I usually produce my songs after I record them now, if that makes sense. That's the fun part.
11. Do you have any new work coming out with Cleveland artists soon?
I've got newer production done for/with Sarah Skinner, LeFreshy, Billard, Chelsea Pastel, Nicx, Shawn K, Tae Miles, Majik, Weswill, DJ Topgun, Addy, Willygotflame right now and the list is always growing so whenever they choose to drop it is when it'll be out. I have a song that Chelsea is gonna do a verse on that I'll release probably whenever she sends back.
12. If you had to pitch your music to our readers, how would you describe yourself and why should they listen?
I would describe myself as the creator of the next idea to carry the generation of artists and help mold the sound. A lot of rappers make it seem like they don't really care or they fell into this, but this is what I feel I've been put here to do and I treat it that way. I take my time and bring something new to music. I don't take the easy route on songs, so to speak. I want people to feel impressed and invested. I want them to feel like even if it wasn't the type of music they're into, they're gonna want to press play on the next drop because they wanna know where I'll take it. And of course I wanna gain fans and supporters.
If you wanna hear something fresh and different and be a part of a movement that's positive and pushing this forward, check out OUTLIER and support Will C. Also, please listen to it in the car.