(Photo Credit: Zach Ryan)

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Vo Williams

With releasing music into the world comes the sharing of stories and perspectives with the world, and power. Artists are able to contribute to and control their own narratives by sharing their experiences through their craft. Vo Williams’ music does exactly that, making listeners feel powerful with epic buildups and strong lyrics. Some of his music has featured in some of our favourite shows, such as “Payback” being the theme song of Lethal Weapon!

CelebMix had the opportunity to chat with Vo Williams about inspiration, the creating content in the age of the Internet, and representation.

What first inspired you to start creating music?

I’ve always been a creator at the core. I feel like my purpose in life is to create. I remember being really inspired by Michael Jackson’s videos and performance footage of Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar on stage. There was a superhuman element about them, there was an undeniable power and energy, and I wanted to feel that kind of power. 

Was there a definitive event or moment in your life that changed your perception of the world?

I’ve experienced so many breakthrough moments in my life that sometimes I feel like I’m living my 10th lifetime. So it’s difficult to attribute my current worldview to one event. I believe love, heartbreak, art, music, travels, success, and failures, have all contributed events that have flipped everything I thought I understood up to those moments.

In terms of sound and content, where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

My sound comes from being authentically interested in learning, discovering new things, and collecting experiences. I spent so many years searching for my voice through different sounds and expressions until I realized that through exposing myself I was actually building my voice. Even today new discoveries have affected the colors and tones of my voice. Everything in the content stems from life experience.
 

You want your music to make listeners feel “powerful, unstoppable, understood and heard” – before making your own music, what was a song that made you feel that way?

‘Bad’ by Micheal Jackson, ‘U don’t know’ by Jay- Z, ‘Mother’ by Danzig, ‘Power’ by Kanye West, ‘One’ by Metallica. I mean, it’s almost torturous to answer this, I want to name like a thousand songs. And a couple of these came out long after I started making music, but I feel capture that confidence and power that I am really inspired by. 

Your first major break when your music was featured in the international trailer for “Big Game”. How did it feel to have your music reach that level of recognition and reach so many people?

The reach is so vast that it’s hard to fully fathom. Because you cannot see each person who is being exposed to your work, the size of the impact becomes abstracted, and your mind can’t completely wrap around having the attention of millions of people around the world. At first, there was a little fear that I didn’t have the resources ready to fully leverage such an Epic opportunity into more success. But the fear of failure wasn’t strong enough to hold back the hunger to change my life. 

Do you have a favourite lyric from the music you’ve released? 

“I don’t need a crown, you know who I am./ Chosen by the Gods/ What’s the will of Man?/ I rose from the gutter to the throne, my power was set in stone, all I had to do was lift my hand/ It’s one throne and it’s my throne/ It’s one King, and I’m home”. 

Is there an artist you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Honestly, there are too many to name. I think Frank Ocean, Jack White, and Childish Gambino, would be interesting. A few of my bucket list collaborators are Led Zeppelin, Jay-Z, Kanye, and Andre 3000.

Your work, along with the music of other artists have contributed to the increase in representation for African American stories in today’s creative industries. What do you think is a major factor in making sure your voices and experiences are heard? 

Hollywood is a reflection of America and the world for that matter. The more the World is realizing that more representation is needed, the more African American stories are being supported. And when you are telling a story from any perspective, the music that completes that experience will rise with it. On the other hand, we can also see the influence of Black music is helping raise support for Black film as well. 
Hip Hop music and style, for example, is the most influential expression on earth. Elements of Hip Hop music and style, for example, stream through almost every genre, and on every continent on this planet. Successful titles like ‘Empire’, and even ‘Hamilton’ are excellent examples of titles that place the story into Hip Hop, instead of Hip-Hop into the story. 
What I’ve aimed to do, is to design Hip Hop that reflects the authentic sound and pulse of my culture, but while introducing the science used to lift a cinematic moment in film. I believe that providing a better tool for filmmakers only helps give our genre more access in the space, and shifts the perception of what’s possible with Hip Hop in film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv4rZaaTGeU

As an artist working in the age of the internet, do you think it’s easier to spread and share your content or to get lost among others trying to do the same? 

Well, I think because it’s easier to share content, it’s easier to flood the market and to get lost in that. It’s bittersweet because I can appreciate the motivation to create tools that make the human experience better, tools that fix problems and empower people. However, I can see how so much access has not only increased saturation, but quality has been compromised for the quantity needed to compete for the public’s sometimes fleeting attention span. Complaining doesn’t get capture the win though. We just have to evolve and find the opportunity in it all.

What is a milestone, personal or professional, that you hope to achieve in your career?

I am reaching for a stage at which funding progressive ideas is the least of our concerns. As creators, we have so many ideas that could really move the human experience forward, if only we could bring them to life. No matter how big we are, or how successful we are, funding is sometimes the greatest challenge. Besides that, I think it’d be cool to win an Oscar or a Grammy.

What do you think has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since embarking on this musical journey?

Be good to others, invest in yourself, and never wait for another living and breathing human being to give you the right to move forward.

What kind of impact would you like your music to have on its listeners?

Overall, I want my listeners to feel empowered and unstoppable. Hip Hop artist are often misunderstood as arrogant or cocky, but our music is designed the way clothing is designed. We write music from first-person, but so that when you sing along, it’s like putting on a fly outfit. I wrote “I feel Supernatural so that when you say it, you are speaking about yourself in an empowering light.
 

Are there any future projects we should stay tuned for?

I just mixed “I Am the One” and I am really hyped about it. This is a collaboration I have been working on with Grammy award-winning producer DJ Ricky Luna. I also have music dropping with Robin Loxley, with whom I made ‘Light em’ up’ with. Definitely add me on Instagram: @ThisisvoYoutube.com/iamvo, or find me on Spotify to stay in the loop on any new music coming out!
 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Thank you for your support, and appreciate each and every one of you. Let’s win!

You can also stay updated with Vo Williams on Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter!

How excited are you to hear “I Am The One”? Let us know by tweeting us at @CelebMix!

Written by Kath Jiang

Western University grad, music lover, and pizza enthusiast from Toronto.

Email: katherine.jiang@live.ca
(Please CC hello@CelebMix.com on all inquiries!)