WILL KILLEN is a singer-songwriter, music producer and guitarist from Leeds who is creating brutally honest acoustic ballads in his bedroom. His debut single “In My Arms” was released at the end of 2017 and I was hooked from the very first chords. I spent countless hours listening to the song and it’s no surprise that it ruled the Indie Top 39 for seven weeks.
Even though you have more songs on Soundcloud, you chose “In My Arms” to be your first release. I’m curious to know what does the song mean to you?
“In My Arms” is simply about missing somebody. I know who that is for me, but I think most of the lyrics leave room for interpretation, even reference to “Our Song” by The XX, which is one of the songs closest to my heart.
“Was it all just a dream
And I’ve finally woken up
I thought I gave you the best of me
Though it never felt enough
I guess some things aren’t meant to be”
This is insanely honest. Does your inspiration come from previous relationships?
For sure. Just the one relationship is what inspired me to start writing, and has been my muse ever since. This is definitely who I’ve written most about, but I’ve covered many topics, most of which have remained unheard for now.
For many artists, sharing their most private experiences is part of a healing process. What about you?
I’d say so. I definitely find solace in expressing my feelings through writing, but lesser so the sharing aspect.
I guess it’s easier to sing about something that you’re not willing to talk about – at least it’s out in the open
Has your life changed after “In My Arms”?
Not physically, but mentally. People seem to connect to it, which has given me a lot of confidence and motivation to write more. I’ve become more aware of whether what I’m writing is relatable, but I try to ignore this notion, to be honest, and stay true to writing about my personal experiences.
Do you think music can heal?
Without a doubt, I’d say it’s one of the best ways to heal. Listening to a song that either encapsulates your mood through the sounds or is relatable through lyrics can help you endlessly. It can help you understand your own feelings, and feel less alone knowing that someone else has felt the same. I’m not sure many people have tapped into this tool, but it says a lot that Sam Smith and Adele’s songs about heartbreak are so popular – but that’s the only ‘sad’ music a lot of people are exposed to.
What is the biggest challenge while creating music?
Always lyrics, and trying to express me honestly and concisely. Unfortunately, the truth rarely rhymes. It usually takes months of compiling ideas/lines/phrases before I have enough for a song. I never actually sit down to write a song, but one will just come out every now and again while fiddling around on the guitar or piano.
The key for me is to never force it
When do you know when the song is finished?
There comes a point where the changes you make aren’t actually adding anything to the song, they’re just changes. It’s sometimes hard to recognise that, but once you do, that’s when you know it’s done.
How would you define success in music?
I count every person that properly engages with my music as a success. Success to me is writing something that expresses a feeling or sums up a situation perfectly. Commercial success is more quantifiable – in other people, I see this as touring and having a committed and engaged fan-base.
What is your goal in music?
I’d really love to have an album that I’m completely happy with, then to do a European tour off the back of it.
I don’t think there’s an artist on Earth that wouldn’t love to collaborate with The Staves. I’d love to explore soundscapes with the likes of S. Carey or Steve Gibbs too.
Around Xmas time you have shared a very moving live performance of “Without A Home” dedicated to those who live on the streets. Can you tell me how did you come up with the idea for the song?
Homelessness really upsets me. It’s just insane that some people don’t have a roof over their heads. I was busking through December 2017 and decided to write this song to play in the streets, as my small way to give something back.
What would be your advice for those who want to create music but feel stuck?
Just to play and write when you want. Don’t force it. Have somewhere to keep all of your ideas that you can access 24/7, inspiration will hit you when you least expect it, even if it’s just a two-line phrase, write it down!
Where would you see yourself in 5 years?
I’d love to live abroad for a while and immerse myself in different cultures. I like the path that I’m on, focussing on music and doing the things I love day in day out, so I hope it’ll be similar, perhaps just with a backlog of recorded music and a few more fans!
What can we expect from you in 2018?
Expect more recorded music, and hopefully, some merch – candles and mugs hopefully as my life revolves around the two. I have about 12 songs that I’d love to get out there, but just no time or money at the moment. I’m hoping doors will open, and I’ll have the opportunity to create my vision.