For WILLAA, music, tech, and visual art have always been inextricably tied.
While in college pursuing a degree in graphic design, WILLAA’s interest in DJing blossomed as he began to find community, inspiration, and guidance from other DJs.
After graduating and moving to San Francisco, he took on a product design role at a music start up, where both skill sets and passions continued to grow. “That was a crossover between worlds. I was working on this music app, and then hanging out with musicians and DJing for fun all the time,” says WILLAA. “Music, design, art, work, and fun were all mixed together–it was all kind of the same.”
Eventually, he began DJing at clubs which then spurred an interest in producing. Starting to make his own music and remixes, WILLAA challenged himself to create in short sprints, getting in as many reps as possible in order to hone his production skills along with his full time product design work. Over the course of the past eight years he’s been refining his style, taking cues from the dance floor, and playing his hand at various creative experiments.
“The trick for me was to create a forcing function for myself to make time to practice and make more music. I would do little sprints. I would say, ‘Okay, I'm going to make a song, start to finish in two hours, and then I'm going to put it on my SoundCloud.’ I would challenge myself to do that, and that's how I really got over the idea of stuff not being good enough, or not being perfect because I would finish it and put it out.”
Finding his confidence by testing his music at events, WILLAA found his flow using each show to perform a new track. “I started getting validation from the dance floor and playing my new music in an actual party setting. What really makes people kind of lose their minds at a party is when you hear something brand new for the first time. That was the feeling that I was chasing, ‘How can I put my twist on something?’”
His efforts proved fruitful, landing deals with house/tech label Chub Rub and electronic label Dirty Bird, among others. Continuing to focus on repetition, his style evolved naturally as he continued his commitment to consistency and output. “The stuff that I feel like I've spent the longest time on is not even the best. The best stuff just kind of happens. It's like lightning in a bottle. Almost like you kind of capture that inspiration. You're making something new. It feels right. And if it sounds good, it is good. And that's it. Not overthinking it has kind of been how I approach my production.”
Looking for more opportunity to share his growing catalog in a live setting, he and a few friends cooked up the idea to host community-oriented techno shows in the park. Serving pizza and playing house music, they began Pizza and Techno. “We started hosting renegade parties where we just brought a pizza oven, brought our speakers and CDJs and played music in the park and cooked pizzas.”
Pizza and Techno caught steam, and they moved the party to San Francisco’s Audio Nightclub. The recurring event ran for three years before Covid slowed things down. “It's not at the level of frequency of what it used to be, but the whole feedback loop was, ‘let's throw a party, and let's make music for the party.’ Every three months, we would put out a compilation with various artists from the party.”
WILLAA continues to find new ways to make music amidst the changing seasons of his life. “I still love house and techno music. I don't go to clubs anymore. I'm married with a kid on the way, so it's a different part of my life right now. But there was a time when that was all that I did basically was work, Pizza and Techno, and partying on the weekends.”
Always looking for ways to expedite the execution of his ideas, he’s now increasingly integrating AI to help utilize his time and energy on creative projects. “My mindset in how I’ve adopted AI is to use these tools to dramatically explode the amount of stuff I'm creating and the amount of things I'm able to do. When Stable Diffusion started getting a little bit better and some of the generative video stuff started coming out, I holed up to make music videos for all my music. I was like, ‘I'm just gonna start exploring crazy visual treatments that go with the music that I like.”
One such experiment involved a remix and music video for Jonathan Mann’s song “Googol.” Another set out to make a LoFi generative Christmas album called Midnight Daydreams. Setting no limits on his creativity, WILLAA is a dedicated student with a playful and restless spirit. “I'm basically a creative ADHD machine. If I don't have something to do, I'll make something up to take my energy and my focus.”
Optimistic about web3’s ability to connect creators and fans, WILLAAA continues to find ways to expand his creative community–HIGH FREQUENCY having already benefited from his visual work where he designed the artwork for the HFV1 series.
Now, we get the chance to feature his musical talents with his first onchain music drop, “Analog.” Finding its groove somewhere between intergalactic futurama and retro funk, “Analog” oozes with undeniable flow and danceability. Easy listening and inspiring natural movement, the song captures a euphoric, weightless feeling. “It's called “Analog,” because it has a crunchy kind of texture to it, which is meant to be kind of analog sounding. The ironic thing is nothing about it is analog, it's samples and synthesizers. Everything is digital, literally. But it kind of has a nostalgic feel to it.”
At the end of the day, WILLAA’s music–as with all his creative endeavors–aims to find joy in self expression. “I think of it all as one big blend of different aspects of being creative, finding ways to express myself and do stuff that I like, and make things that make me feel good upon reflection then sharing them with other people and hopefully, it makes them feel good too.”
Collect Music NFTs from HIGH FREQUENCY. “Analog” is dropping on Sound at 2pm PST on September 14 free to mint for a week.
Article by Wallace Morgan* for HIGH FREQUENCY, Subscribe for more.*