You might know Willy Joy for his Free Willy Wednesdays or perhaps from the recent shine we've given him for his remix of A$AP Rocky’s, “F*ckin’ Problems,” but if you don’t… let me introduce you to William Joy, aka Willy Joy.
I had the pleasure of catching up Willy this past week and if there is one thing I can tell you is for certain, this down to earth DJ is a true gentleman with a work ethic few can match. Despite his busy schedule and constant traveling, he’s always making sure his fans can get in on the action. From Soundcloud to Facebook, you can always see where he’s off to or what new music he is making (and typically for free too).
I still feel like each new song I write makes everything else I’ve done up to that point seem crappy in comparison. Hopefully I never get too satisfied or comfortable with my output…
In addition to the tracks he puts out each week for Free Willy Wednesdays, also be on the lookout for a track with Brillz for Brillzs upcoming EP for Slow Roast Records and if you're a Major Lazer fan, Joy was tapped for some production work on the upcoming album that’s due to drop sometime in April. There's also some other collaborations in the works, but Joy was pretty tightlipped about it, simply saying to be on the lookout this summer.
Needless to say, Joy is more than busy with a bunch of projects, which begs the questions...how the hell he does it all and stay humble in the process. Being the hard worker he is, Joy set aside some time to answer a few questions for us in hopes of gaining a little insight into what exactly it is that makes Willy who he is and all his work possible.
I lost the ability to differentiate between work and play a long time ago.
What are you listening to these days, is there a song stuck in your head at the moment?
The new James Blake is pretty insane. Also old Black Sabbath and The Streets.
Being from Chicago, do you think the city has influenced your music style?
Chicago has had a huge effect and influence on me. Being in the birthplace of house music is extremely inspirational and I take a lot of cues from ghetto house and juke production as well. In more general terms, Chicago is like a chameleon. We’re not constrained by an “East Coast sound” or “West Coast sound” tag—Chicago is a sponge that soaks up a little bit of everything. When you wring it out, you get something entirely new.
What do you like to do in your free time when you aren’t traveling or making music?
I get pretty antsy if I go very long without traveling or making music, to be honest. I lost the ability to differentiate between work and play a long time ago, haha. That being said, I love television and movies and watch quite a lot in my spare time. I exercise compulsively. Also I am very big into wildlife and wildlife conservation.
Can you walk us through your various musical phases? From early interest to actual creative output, how did they tie into your waking life?
My first musical obsession, as it was for a lot of people, was Michael Jackson. I learned his dance moves, sung all his songs, watched every video obsessively, the whole nine. When music really started claiming me though was when I discovered rock music in middle school—Green Day “Dookie,” The Offspring “Smash” and Bad Religion “Stranger Than Fiction” were early favorites. From there I went into a full on metal phase in high school. I grew a weird beard, wore baggy clothes and band shirts exclusively. I lived for concerts and researched my favorite bands constantly. I was also “singing” in hilariously bad metal groups and “rapping” in a jewish parody hip-hop group at this time as well. Towards the end of high school I got into raving as well as DJing, the baggy clothes remained but changed colors. Running concurrently with all of this I also played jazz trumpet from a young age and did a decent amount of musical theater.
In college I was DJing top 40 clubs for some spending money, and DJing the odd rave here or there for the love of it. It wasn’t until after college and after I got laid off of my first and last corporate job that I started to seriously produce music—that would have been around ’07 or ’08. I was pretty bad at it for a couple years and learned mostly through trial and error, I still feel like each new song I write makes everything else I’ve done up to that point seem crappy in comparison. Hopefully I never get too satisfied or comfortable with my output, I think that’s dangerous.
If you visualize music as your listen, what (generally) do you imagine?
I do have synesthesia to a small extent, usually when I “see” music it appears as colors and simple geometric shapes—a jagged line, a colored circle, etc. I'm sure a psychologist could have a field day...
How do you choose what tracks you remix?
Sometimes I think it’s better to remix a track you don’t like than a track you do. When I have to remix a track I really love it’s hard because I don’t like changing something I’m inspired by. The inverse is true for making bootlegs though—when I bootleg a song it’s because I really love it and want to be able to reference it in my DJ sets. The bootleg process usually respects the original work and just gives it a little added "oomph" or style to make it mesh more seamlessly with whatever else I’m feeling at the time.
Do you discuss or exchange ideas with other producers?
All the time, I’ve learned much more about music production from my friends and peers than I ever did in school. Not a knock on school though, I loved my education and I’d probably be a useless lump of goo without it.
Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false? For example: global warming is real, drugs are bad for you, getting an education is important, etc.
There’s an immortal dude in the sky who watches over us all? The three things you list as examples are all pretty true, especially global warming… Anyone who claims global warming isn’t real in 2013 is a special kind of idiot.
Does character invent style or does your style invent character?
I think anyone who thinks about this too much probably doesn’t have much of either. The coolest people are the ones who aren’t trying to be and the ones who don’t care.