‘EVERY DYNAMIC IS DIFFERENT. JUST DO WHAT IS WORKING FOR YOU. IT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE PERFECT IN THE BEGINNING’
Will Champlin is one of those musicians that you can’t help but admire and respect on what he does. From the moment he stepped onto The Voice stage three years ago, there’s no mistaking that he was one of the show’s most brilliant singers, possessing a strong and clear vision for the artist he wanted to be. And he certainly proved that over the course of the competition. America watched him hone his craft, delivered an unbelievable performance week after week and become an even better performer.
For a man who’s not only able to write, produce and sing his own music, but also humbly believes in the integrity of creating quality music, nothing has changed. He remains grounded even after reaching top 3 of season 5 of The Voice to co-writing “Wolves” from One Directions Made in The AM record to touring with the likes of Santana, Billy Ray Cyrus, to Glen Frey of the ‘Eagles’ and many more. Will remains as excited as ever to share his craft in the music world, despite spending much of his life sharpening his arrows of creativity to hit the bulls eye and continue making his mark, and most recently, dealing with shock and grief of losing a friend.
One short conversation and it is hard not to notice Will’s energy-filled passion, honesty and positivism. With every answer, his mind and soul began to open up. As we took a pilgrimage through his life, Will unloaded part of his story—as he has probably done in many of his interviews before—but only this time, it was more special. Will Champlin just decided to share a piece of his heart and soul.
He sat down for an exclusive interview with MNL Online, to share his life’s defining moments, his passion for music and how it has helped him evolve personally and professionally, his thoughts on gun control, and lots of other random and fun topics.
Hey man! When you decided that you were going to play music as your career, what was the force that said, “This is for me”?
Well, I must have had some type of passionate chord struck with me, I remember I was roughly about 12 or 13 when it really hit and I knew I wanted to actually study music and maybe even go to Berklee after High School depending on how things went.
What have you learned about yourself lately? Has it been a discovery or a rediscovery process at all?
I’ve learned that I’ve had some of my own walls in the way of my flow and creative process that I might have put up subconsciously but I’m expanding my mind and putting my finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s happening without sacrificing musicality, substance and other things we’ve all worked for to be the musicians we are.
What kind of adjustment did you have to go through back then when you were playing your first gig, as compared to doing gigs today, most especially after your The Voice experience? [And] How has your musical and artistic vision changed through the years?
Sometimes certain gigs are relative and I just try to play my best as if no one’s heard of me before and approach things like that.
What’s it been like working with Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera? Do you guys still connect and talk? Man, I was rooting for you!
Thank you! Yeah, It was really great working with both of them, they are different minded artists but have a lot of experience at what they do as performers and vocalists. I talk to the others from time to time especially recently in the wake of Christina’s unfortunate and tragic loss. We have all texted in a group text to one another.
Looking back on your career, are there two or three individuals who have impacted your life? Why?
Not yet… I mean, my daughter impacts my life in a beautiful way, but not professionally speaking, however we always sing songs together in the car and I’ve been teaching her some piano basics and she has an unbelievable melodic sense and ear for her age. No one has impacted my career yet in a huge pivotal way at this time as many business sources are a lot of talk and have steered me into a ditch I always end up having to dig myself out of. This is something not too many know about, but there it is.
Not naming names.
How will you describe the level of success coming to your way lately? What do you feel about the support from people around you?
Fans and #Champs are amazing and always will be. Success lately has been in the songwriting side of things. One Direction, and REIK. [Smiles.]
Likewise, can you share some stories on how your voice/music has touched and inspired people?
Song by song, some songs on the deeper side have more of an impact on people like “Breathe” off my album Borrowing Trouble.
Talking about your music, what reasons do you have for playing the type of music that you do and why? Also, how does your music reflect the mood of times?
Keep in mind, I tend to jump stylistically as far I can stretch but always have some sort of thread of continuity, whether I have Organic Americana vibes and then a little Elec-trap sounding production all the way to straight Sam Cooke Soul. Inevitably you have to take it down to what makes the song stand out the most even if initial production ‘tricks’ were sounding cool and edgy there’s always points where you might look at each other in the studio and say “Na, F*** it” the song has to strike a chord with peoples emotions and hit a chord with a common everyday human quality and condition that doesn’t become dated. I write whatever I’m going thru in the moment, and sometimes that will be enough to hit people with.
And I believe that your music is a way for you to develop and grow as a person, right? Why so?
It is, but life experience has to be there as well, otherwise your showing up empty. Like showing up to a card game with no luck. Bad example, more like car racing with your gas meters warning light on saying your almost empty.
Which song in your catalog best describes the sound and style you ultimately prefer and why?
The song, “Borrowing Trouble” describes my vibe and sound mostly, It’s everything I wanted to sum myself up with, a mix of bluegrass (chris stapleton/steeldrivers meets ‘man of constant sorrow, irish rock (dropkick murphies), and of course the edm element (Avicii) Since I’m such an ableton live nerd with beat-making and always trying to learn new ways and approaches for producing and creative workflow.
What (*cover) songs that you’ve released are you most proud of? What songs are you working on now?
I haven’t officially released covers yet, only YouTube covers momentarily. Watch some of his amazing covers below. –Jayson
Can you talk about what happens in your head when you compose – the creative process before you write it down or put your hands on the guitar? How does your persona play a role in that process?
I have mostly an out-of –body out-of-mind experience while I’m creating, when I’m really going at it whether I’m just electronically composing tracks, or collaborating lyrics and melody with others I usually don’t even remember what happens, I just try and let my brain and body go into auto-pilot and trust that the magic is there. Kind of like sleeping, most of us can’t remember our dreams.
Is a new EP/album in the works now?
I’m in a solid grind right now, on an extremely fast paced creative kick at the moment. I am hoping to at least get an EP out of it soon depending on what’s right.
Studio work or performing live, which of these do you prefer most and why?
I love performing live mostly. Because It’s sharing your hard work of even the most daunting record-making process to. Being able to feed that to people is a rewarding feeling. All the love you put into a final product is finally onstage.
In which cities (or states) have you performed so far where you met the maddest and most happy crowd?
Never had a mad crowd, most of the time, things have been well perceived.
In general, how has your definition of success changed over the course of your ‘highs and lows ‘in the music industry?
Highs are when you’re out playing a lot. Lows are when you aren’t getting booked and you’re left with having to think, but at least I know I can put the work in and the love into my music to keep the train moving. [Smiles.]
Are there any places or activities that make you feel the most grounded in who you are today?
I have felt very grounded completing songs the and getting them done with the right components. It’s a peaceful feeling to know you’re doing something right even in times of pure hell.
What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
I get to work and collaborate with some well-known household names (which I cannot name at this time). [Smiles.] This gives me hope that people know I have my finger on the pulse of todays sound and I’m at least confident enough to take that in and know I have a professional side to me, whether it’s engineering, arranging, all the way down to the dirty work no one wants to do, If I gotta do it, I do it…
What recommendations would you make for those of us who are trying to maintain a balance between work, family, writing and performing, and personal time?
Everyone is different, every dynamic is different. Just do, what is working for you at the moment, as long as you put the love into your art. Doesn’t always have to be perfect in the beginning. [Smiles.]
If you could have asked anyone for advice when you were starting out. Who would you have liked to ask? What would be your answer now?
I would ask them, how secure is this music industry, for real now? Spotify, 5 million plays, and only 3,000 dollars or something ridiculous like that. I probably wouldn’t have pursued it completely had I known the injustice that has taken place in the industry and the government ignores it… But as G-Easy says, Regardless I’ll always keep keeping on!!!
What’s the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Oh damn. I don’t think I remember these ones. Or I can’t keep track! [Laughs.]
Choose between money, power, love or fame, which one will you go for and why?
Depends what kind of power, what kind of love, and what kind of pain.. Money is something, everyone is gonna need, but it can’t be a motivation that sh*t comes and goes… You need internal happiness as a start, probably some sort of gratitude and being thankful for what you do have before dwelling on what you don’t. Might just need Faith before any of these.
In the wake of gun violence debate (following the untimely death of Christina Grimmie and the devastating Orlando shooting), what’s your stand on gun control? Do you think there should be more restrictions on guns?
First off, I was heartbroken learning someone senselessly just took her life like that, when all she was about was sharing her God-given gift to the world and her fans. It still is tough to think about to this day, we we’re texting about writing soon in the studio and looking back on some of the communication between myself, her and other Voice tour friends is hard to take in. The last thing I would think about was political madness when this hit so personally to me. I know many friends who are legal gun-owners but people like those two men, should have been at least flagged. Or better yet, there wasn’t even sufficient security at both events. Loibl just walked in like nothing…. As far as laws go, not many know that assault weapons have been banned since ’86. And this was under Reagan. But still we have had shootings in our nation with these types of weapons that one could only attain on a black market platform. So, I’m not game for infringing upon Americans 2nd Amendment rights and basic civil liberties because criminals and terrorists who’ve continually drop hints on social media, and then carry out these types of viscous and inhumane acts.
Share with us your proudest moment in your career so far and what do you have your eyes set on next?
My proudest moment of my career as a performer was on the voice show singing “At Last”.
Next, I need to get myself playing in foreign nations because that’s where many of my fan traffic has been thus far.
Say something incredibly witty and interesting.
I love you #Champs, and MNL Online newsreaders, I hope to one day soon, come and rock out in the Philippines soon. [Smiles.]
Is there anything else you would like new fans to know about your music?
I’m always sharing snippets of whatever beats I’m making, it’s all a work in the making that is gonna come together soon.
Finally, what do you hope people take away from your music and from your shows and performances?
A piece of my soul, passion, heart and music. [Smiles.]