A gifted singer/songwriter, Calgary raised musician, WiL has lately become recognized internationally with his original song “Roam”, which is currently being used to promote Alberta through a global media campaign yet WiL is, by no means, a newcomer to the Canadian musical landscape.
After receiving his first acoustic guitar at age 9, he began practicing hard, using influences from every available source at hand from Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Liona Boyd to Eric Clapton, ACDC and Iron Maiden.
In 1991 he got his first paying gig and spent the next 10 years honing his talent by performing covers of his favorite musical artists in Calgary bars. Although he had earned a reputation for packing the house 4-5 nights a week, he knew it was time to move forward.
“I have no regrets about the years I spent in Calgary bars – that time allowed me to develop my own voice and style but most importantly it helped me realize my passion for performing live. It taught me how to captivate a room that would otherwise only be eating wings on Wednesday. It was tough but it ultimately defined who I am today. One morning I simply woke up and saw myself at 40, regurgitating other people's music and it scared the shit out of me”.
Subsequently, WiL wrote his first album called "Both Hands" in 2002 and began selling it ‘off stage’. In 2003, his performance during Vancouver’s New Music West caught the attention of then SLFA music agent, Rob Pattee who had heard that there was ‘a guy’ playing to a packed house at ‘The Royal’ yet wasn’t actually on the ‘NMW’ roster. Rob walked in, watched the show unfold and signed him on the spot.
The 2003/04 season included a grueling tour schedule, playing 300+ dates with artists like Colin James, Matthew Good, Joel Plaskett Emergency, The Tea Party, Hawksley Workman, Xavier Rudd among others and earned him 4 nominations at the 2005 Western Canadian Music Awards including nods for ‘Producer’ and ‘Entertainer of the Year’.
For his sophomore album and first major label release (EMI) ‘By December’ WiL collaborated with some of Canada's most respected musicians such as producer and multi-instrumentalist Dave MacKinnon (FemBots), 54-40's Neil Osborne and Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett.
In October 2008, the track, ‘Big Life’, an ode to WiL’s father, was featured in a pivotal hospital scene in the ABC TV series, ‘Eli Stone’ (Johnny Lee Miller). The following spring, WiL was featured in a White Iron Films, Rosie Award-winning documentary entitled, Music Is The Message: WiL, which detailed his ongoing journey within music. The doc was aired on MuchMoreMusic in September 2010 and scooped three awards at the recent ‘Rosies’, including Best Music or Variety Show.
WiL recorded and released his 3rd and independent studio album, ‘In This Together’ in 2009/10. It was during the recording of this album and working with producer and commercial composer Bruce Leitl that WiL really started coming into his own as a songwriter.
The pairing, by commercial music manager and mentor, Dan McManus, was initiated in order to help further develop his songwriting skills and melody structure. WiL laughingly admits “Bruce was the Porsche and I was the pickup” Bruce helped me become a better songwriter. He and I had vastly different musical tastes but differences aside, he helped me realize that I had talent as a writer”
Tragically, Bruce passed away before the album was finished. WiL says, “I never realized what I actually learned while making that record until six months later. Bruce was my friend and mentor and although I feel the album itself became a bit polished for my liking it was the album that most definitely helped me realize my potential as a songwriter as well as lay the foundation for the skills I needed to make music for TV and film”.
Subsequently, WiL spent the first part of 2011 writing and recording his 4th album ‘Heart of Mine’ which he produced with then drummer and producer, Jason Cook. The balance of the year was spent at home in his studio, aptly called ‘Box In the Woods’, writing and composing music for film and television. In October 2011 five of his songs were picked to accompany the stunningly shot video component for Travel Alberta’s 2011/12 ‘Remember To Breathe’ ad campaign. The 3 – minute flagship video ‘Remember To Breathe - Alberta’ featuring ‘Roam’ hit a milestone in mid April by bridging one million views. In March, the video won the ‘Diamond Award’ as the best entry in the annual Golden City Gate international film and media competition at the International Tourism Fair (ITB) in Berlin.
Kudos aside, the song struck a chord with the public and is helping to draw attention to WiL’s gift as a flourishing singer-songwriter. On October 22nd, Travel Alberta released a new flagship video ‘Remember To Breathe - Summer’ featuring the brand new song ‘There Is’ - just one of a collection currently in the works.
With 4 albums under his belt and a 5th on the horizon, Wil doesn’t plan on slowing down.
“I feel very fortunate that my music is starting to find its way through to commercial avenues. I thoroughly enjoy the process of making the music to imagery – when I feel a strong connection to the visuals it is ‘that much more enjoyable’. I’ve always been an illustrator and for me, composing music this way feels right. I was never a reader-I love watching film; maybe this is my way of contributing to something I love.”
WiL has a gift and he loves to share it. In his musicianship, lyrics and live performance, he exudes an equal measure of ferocious intent and heart wrenching beauty. One fan eloquently stated “he’s a saw blade cutting though fine silk”. Whether performing live, recording an album or writing for film, he is a dedicated and consummate professional using his legendary live show performances to develop his expansive roots-rock sound to create a style that is honest, edgy, raw and delicate yet achingly beautiful all at once. One such performance was written up by the Calgary Sun as having so much “power and soul it could stop your heart.”