Will-Powerz (S.London, UK) – “Q&A Interview”

Tell us a little about yourself. Where you are from? How long have you been making Hip Hop?

 I’m from Croydon in South East London, UK. Music has been a huge part of my life since I was a child: I studied over 10 years to become an accomplished pianist in various styles, played trumpet in an orchestra, performed gigs as a guitarist and singer with several bands and also played bass guitar with a number of different acts, including a jazz big band. I fell in love with Hip Hop around age 14, and began making beats throughout my teenage years at first using crude software and equipment thrown together (including an xbox, a 30-year-old cassette based portastudio, and some cheap samplers/drum machines/instruments and mic). I learned to hone my own sound in this way, summoning my technical ability from my diverse experience as a musician, applying my own creativity and working in A LOT of improvisation to get something close to a good sound out of my makeshift setup. As I progressed into my early 20s I began writing and spitting but kept that part of my music private, before being barraged by a few harsh life experiences that effectively put my music career on hold. Now, several years older and many struggles the wiser, I am fully committed to bringing my story to the Hip Hop world – progressive instrumentals, conscious, soulful lyrics and a profound respect for Hip Hop as an art form.

What influences you in making Hip Hop?

As a producer I am heavily influenced by the unique power of Hip Hop to embrace all other styles of music. I draw on diverse musical influences including Pink Floyd, Wagner, Jimi Hendrix and Portishead, as well as my most respected Hip Hop producers like J Dilla, MadLib, Flying Lotus, ?uestlove and countless others. As a rapper I’m inspired by non-conformist personas like that of MF Doom, the raw emotional content of Plan B and Eminem, lyrical skill and wordplay of artists like Lyrics Born and Shotty Horroh, or storytelling and politically-driven content in the style of Immortal Technique. Hip Hop has, in my opinion, the power to express anything, borrowing principles and techniques from any style of music and making it something new; in this regard, I would say I’m also inspired to make Hip Hop my way by the torrent of negative, contrived so-called Hip Hop that floods the mainstream.

Describe your music, and what separates you from other MCs?

Every bar I spit comes from the heart. Every beat I make draws on the diversity of my musical background. My academic education in English literature gives me strength as a writer; studying poetry has tuned me in to linking ‘multis’ and playing with words, plus I have a wide vocabulary that I always attempt to incorporate. Studying philosophy has developed my creative thinking, enabling me to include thoughts about existence and purpose, and giving me a more defined message about life that I try to express in every song I write. On the mic I can vary my emotional intensity and am very self-aware when it comes to the relevance of my message, the flow of my lyrics on delivery and the importance of avoiding clichés. Plus I can sing! And I will never betray my principle of portraying a positive message to my listeners, avoiding the promotion of self-destructive or violent behaviour that too many rappers endorse or personify.

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Who have you collaborated with? Who would like to collab with in the near future?

On my debut mixtape ‘Volition’ I have collaborated with various artists and producers from around the UK and USA: from New Jersey there are two promising young rappers named Stas Greekboii and Kevin Strickland; from Philadelphia, an exciting rapper called A-Double; from Florida, a progressive and dedicated producer Clef Sector; from London there is a producer and head of new indie record label Latent’s Records Tim ‘Latent’ Plant, plus a talented young singer Gareth Paul. Two skilled and hard-working MCs from Milton Keynes named Severe and Snypa D Delic; from Bristol there is a prolific and madly entertaining underground rapper called Daysta; and from Birmingham, a soulful and heartfelt rapper named Ricky Benang. Every one of these artists has been a pleasure to work with, and I thoroughly intend to work with them all in future projects. I’m also eyeing a collab with a promising young rapper from Reading named Eastgreen, and pursuing a link-up with some of the rappers from the Don’t Flop Entertainment battle rap league that have earned my admiration – most notably Ogmios and Quill.

Your definition of “Underground Hip Hop”?

For me, “Underground Hip Hop” means “Real Hip Hop” – focused on the preservation of a rich culture that is caricaturized in its mainstream counterpart, to the extent that negative images and customs that are presented to the commercial audience through so-called “Urban” music are enough to make many listeners dismiss Hip Hop as an art form. Undergound Hip Hop embraces progress and experimentation, merits lyrical skill and powerful subject matter equally, and most importantly remains accessible to disadvantaged, working-class youths by retaining its indelible connection to the streets. Its power to influence young minds is something that some underground rappers exploit with negative behaviour and personas, which I personally don’t condone, but its connotations of freestyling on the streets over beatboxers or crude drumloops, breakdancing, DJs cutting dirty vinyl sounds, cyphers, phat basslines blaring out of car speakers, battles and insane bars…that’s “Real Hip Hop”, that’s “Underground Hip Hop”.

Production wise, who are your influences? Who does your production, and who would you like to work with?

As I’ve already stated, there’s a multiplicity of influences I draw on as a producer. My favourite Hip Hop production sound comes from the school of J Dilla all day – beats by MF Doom, 9th Wonder, Nicolay, Hi-Tek, Flying Lotus, MadLib, Jneiro Jarel, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Chief Xcel; they’re all from the Dilla revolution, and for me that’s what pure Hip Hop sounds like. In attempting to develop my own brand of Hip Hop these producers have been my foundation, but I draw on my experience of various styles of rock, orchestral/classical music and jazz, plus an open mindedness to all genres of music (not including ‘pop’ in that statement!) I produce my own music, and am far more interested in collaborating with other producers to make something fresh than in using other producers’ beats at this stage. However, if a producer were to offer me a beat that I felt I could really bring something to purely as a vocalist, I certainly would consider pursuing the project.

Any current or future projects you are promoting?

I’m currently in the process of completing an EP titled “No More Mr Nice Snypes” with rapper Snypa D Delic – he and some members of his MK crew are bringing the vocals and I’m bringing the beats and mixing, plus maybe featuring on one or two of the songs. I’m also in the final stages of completing a solo EP which is untitled as yet: it will be 6 songs, only one of which is really a Hip Hop song. Instead, I feel it is a genre of its own, featuring myself as singer/songwriter and applying what I hope will demonstrate my versatility as a producer. Both of these EPs are expected to be released either at the very end of December or early in the new year, and I’m very excited by their potential! Going into 2014, I’m lined up to collaborate with a new band on the Latent’s Records label called The Way It Ends, and I plan to release “Volition: Part 2” with another lineup of mouth-watering international features, so watch this space!

Where can we find your music and info?

My online hub is my website at http://www.willpowerzbeats.co.uk/ – from here you can connect with my Twitter accounthttps://twitter.com/wpbeatz  , my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WillPowerzBeats  and my current music store at http://will-powerz.bandcamp.com. All these sources are continuously growing and developing, along with my YouTube (/PowerzWill) and SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/willpowerz so it’s easy to keep up-to-date with my latest music and news.

Any shout outs?

Shouts to Latent (@latentmgroup), Severe (@severe1988), Snypa D Delic (@snypadd), Ricky Benang (@RickyBenang), Stas Greekboii (@The_Real_Stas), Kevin Strickland (@KevinSlimStrick), A-Double (@A_NrNr) and Clef Sector (@clefsector). Also big-up to Gareth Paul and Daysta, Eastgreen, and to every single person that has played, downloaded and commented on my music, and of course to UnderGroundHipHopBlog for supporting me in this! Thanks to you all, peace!







DOWNLOAD MIXTAPE LINK: http://will-powerz.bandcamp.com/album/volition


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