Canadian singer Willa nearly quit music recently. After her successful debut album, Criminals + Dreamers, the Vancouver artist took a two year break saying she “was lost and felt burnt out and frustrated.” Over the last year, she moved to Toronto and began working with new collaborators.
Now she’s back with a video for her new single “Cause You Did.” This song is an immediate ear worm. WHEW.
Yes Yes I’m really happy
But I think you mean, ‘Have I moved on?”
Check out Girl Gang Music’s exclusive Q&A with Willa:
GGM: How did you get here? Did you always know you’d be a musician?
“I was always singing while growing up… Music has always been pivotal to me, but it wasn’t until I auditioned for the local choir in my hometown Whistler at 9 years old (with Everybody Wants to Be A Cat from the Aristocats… Pretty metal, I know) that I realized I had any skill at it! And how much I LOVED it as something to put my time towards.”
GGM: What was the songwriting + production process behind this song & video? If you have any pictures, we’d love to see them.
“I wrote Cause You Did with Robyn Dell Unto and it all started with one line. The night before our session, I was almost asleep and was thinking about why I can’t let people in. I blearily climbed out of bed at like 2am and made a note in my phone; “they can’t hurt me, cause you did”. Robyn was really into that and we dove into WHY during out session and, if you can believe it, it’s the first time I’ve ever written a song about the person that hurt me most. Proved to be very cathartic!
I wanted the video to display the hurt underneath a tough facade… In the first portion of the video, I’m completely emotionless and remain so… But the projections with phrases like “I’m not fine” later in the video reveal what’s really going on underneath the “thick skin” the chorus describes.”
GGM: What has been your proudest moment so far in life? Music or otherwise? I saw you mentioned in another interview that you nearly quit music. Can you talk about this?
“I’m really proud of this song coming out. It’s one of the truest things I’ve ever written and it’s really meaningful to me to be able to share that. It’s a much longer story, but what I’ll say is that I felt completely drained… It was the industry more than the craft that felt like it had beaten me. But, I challenged myself to move forward, to embrace a new chapter without having a clue to knowing what it held.
I moved across the country to Toronto, I worked with brand new collaborators, I made a pact with myself to write with complete and total honesty. That whole process completely relit my fire and I’m so grateful it did; I know myself as an artist and a person more than I ever have.”
GGM: What are you working on right now to improve your craft? IE. What are you learning or focusing on?
“Lately, I’ve found it really helpful to learn how to play and sing popular songs I love… I’m finding I discover something new I didn’t realize was there lyrically or even melodically when I really break down a song to piano/voice. It’s actually become very helpful with my songwriting to really look at the writing of my all time fav songs. It also keeps my voice limber… The voice truly is a muscle and when I don’t use it every day, I lose flexibility and agility. Pushing my voice by learning or writing songs that have a bigger range or melodies that don’t come naturally to me actively improves my skills.”
GGM: What’s your golden nugget of advice for any woman in the industry?
“FOLLOW YOUR GUT… your instincts are always right (that goes for one’s personal life too).
surround yourself with a team that works as hard, but make sure to work even harder; know that no one will believe in your vision as much as you. Your team will take cues from you and your hard work, so give them something to run with.”
GGM: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I will cross streets to pet dogs. I hear music in colour.
GGM:Do you think being a woman in music has affected your career? If so, how?
“It absolutely has. The music industry is a predominantly male and it’s inevitable to come across some people you have to push harder with to be heard or taken seriously. Experiences like that make me cherish the people that are truly collaborative and respect everyone in the room equally.”
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