TheSource.com EXCLUSIVE: Platinum Producer WillPower Talks ‘Trunk Muzik Returnz,’ New Yelawolf Album, & Trinidad James
WillPower chops it up with TheSource.com about forthcoming projects
by Niki Gatewood(@THE_NikiG)
photo by Ounce
Music producer, photographer, and videographer, William “WillPower” Washington is a creative savant. Best known for his critically-acclaimed production on Yelawolf’s Trunk Muzik, WillPower’s grind is relentless. Respected media outlets, the New York Times and SPIN magazine, have both featured WillPower’s captivating photography. Born in Carmel, CA, this military brat has lived throughout the South; but, Columbia, SC has always been home. The South’s pain, triumph, and resilience are all found within the commanding beats that WillPower produces; hot beats are his specialty.
“Being a producer is someone who knows how to construct music and make something cohesive for an artist or for a project. The main thing is just being able to design a platform out of ideas and make it into something that people can understand and comprehend,” explains WillPower. With that The Source is granted this exclusive detailing Trunk Muzik Returns, Yelawolf’s new album Love Story, and Trinidad James:
Although you’ve been producing since ’97 and you’ve worked on different platinum-selling projects; but, to many you’re still under the radar. According to you what’s more important fame or the quality of music that you produce?
I certainly think it’s the quality of music—being famous will eventually happen, I assume. If not, it’s nothing anything that I’ll miss in my career. That’s part of the problem these days. A lot of times fame comes before the quality or something that deserves a famous look. I’m just kinda in the cut. I think it’s important that I deliver something that people will hold onto for a longer period of time. You know, I don’t really care to be famous. If it happens I’ll dance for you.
When you’re solely producing an album or tape, what do you do to ensure that there’s a cohesive sound within the project but it doesn’t sound monotonous?
When approaching a full album, you have to not lock yourself into one idea. Creating a cohesive album is about coming up with a concept and staying within the confines of the concept, but not necessarily with the sound. I wouldn’t suggest that you use the same bass guitar on every song. I would use all kinds of things to make a record happen. To make a cohesive album you have to open yourself up sonically, but still know you have a concept. There’s a destination that you’re trying to reach for your project.
“Dollar General” by Stevie Stone is dope. From Yelawolf’s Trunk Muzik Returns I really like “Catfish Billy.” It’s beautiful; sounds like you’re scoring a Hitchcock film.
It really makes me happy when people are able to actually listen to a record and feel some kind of way about it. The “Catfish Billy” record is really special to me, because I brought in a live cello player. That wasn’t a keyboard patch. There was an actual person here. With her playing she just had a really dark vibe. I actually let her design her energy and we built the record around that energy. That was dope. To me, the Stevie Stone record was just gangster music. It felt so gangster to me. So, I appreciate that you like those records they are some really special ones. Trunk Muzik Returns was expected to sound just like Trunk Muzik. But we didn’t want that at all. You know, we wanted to have some of those elements, and the dark energy, but if you really listen to it it’s not the same project.
Do you have a signature that easily identifies your work?
For me, I don’t think you can really identify me with this [or that]—but my drums are really special. I take a lot of time with my drums. I make sure that they’re designed specifically for each record. As a producer, one thing that makes me stand out is my mixes and the sound quality at the end. I think that that’s the most important thing for me. I make sure that it’s really sonically outstanding. I don’t have a tag at the beginning of my records or a certain transition sounds, or anything like that. If you really listen to my music there’s a certain funk that I add to it. Hopefully in time, people will be able to recognize it. I kinda like the fact that they can’t.
What factors, if any, provoke you to form relationships with other producers and MCs?
For me, I’m looking for something unique. I’m not looking to work with people that are doing what everyone else is doing. For instance, I’m working with Trinidad James a little bit right now. I like him because of the project he put out. It’s a lot of different music on his mixtape. Some of the things that I look for aren’t necessarily popular. I’ll look for somebody who has incredible lyrics or someone who has a unique sound to what they’re trying to accomplish. I’m not chasing down the same artists that have the same record that you hear every day on the radio.
Have you ever collaborated with a rapper and felt like the quality of their lyricism didn’t match the quality of your production?
Throughout my career it’s happened several times. I don’t really trip; because, one of the things that I like to pride myself on is, I normally don’t just give rappers or singers my beats. Normally, I require a session so I’m able to sit there and say, “Hey, I think we should do this or that.” That way, when it’s done at least I’ll know we got the record to the point where we were both happy. So, not all the time, but it has happened before. I’d send a beat somewhere and when I got the rap back or the song back, it was terrible. It doesn’t always mesh; you can’t work with everybody.
So far, have you done anything with Brotha Lynch Hung?
No, but I would love to. I’m a fan of his work; he’s got a really dark vibe. He’s kinda weird; I”d definitely get down with that. Strange Music is a really good label. I like a lot of the stuff over there.
They are powerful lyricists. Earlier you mentioned something about Trinidad James, will you expound on that?
Right now, we’re working on some stuff. I’ve done a project with him. We’re just trying to find that happy medium. So, he’s had some real good success. At this present moment he’s trying to find himself. I’m hoping to be part of that equation, because I’m excited about the work that I’ve done with him.
Is there a definitive release date for Love Story?
We’re going to turn it in here soon. You know, they opened up the budget and we went to work. So, they’re pretty serious about dropping it. We are shooting for a fall Love Story release.
Until the time, what should your supporters anticipate?
I would love for everybody to tune in for this Love Story album from Yelawolf. We’ve regrouped and we’ve certainly matured and grown in what we’re doing. For music lovers it’s going to be an interesting and fulfilling project. I’ve got a gang of stuff going on. I am in the studio with quite a few good situations.