A Walk In The Park With Willie J Healey
“I’m a really happy person,” Willie beams. With the sun shining and leaves fluttering about like dancing fairies, our adventure in West London's Holland Park became our magical escape from the hustle and bustle of central London. Winning over the hearts of many with his natural charm and cheeky sense of humour, Willie J Healey has fun written all over his face.
However, with this newest release, he has us all questioning his usual joyous-self. “In my mind I wanted to write about more uncomfortable subjects, but in a sweet way,” Willie ponders. “I certainly wasn’t writing about myself but just more about a feeling.”
Sat gorping at a man with a pet parrot on his shoulder, we both try to hide our laughter. The mood suddenly changes as Willie opens up about his forthcoming project ‘666 KILL’. With a significant shift to more of a demonic and rich gothic imagery, it comes across as an unusual genesis for Healey.
“I’ve been playing with that kind of contrast between the song at first glance and then the song when you really listen to it with this upcoming EP. They are all quite deep, which is something I wouldn’t normally do,” he says. “At first it put me off a little bit but it’s nice to have an outlet for something that came so naturally. It’s exciting too yet weird as it’s something very different and almost slightly embarrassing because when people hear it they will think certain things about me which aren’t necessarily the case,” he tells me.
“When I first showed some of the stuff to my friends they were like are you OK?” he laughs. “I guess I’ve just played on heavier themes than I have in the past. Yala! are putting it out for me too which is great. It’s quite slow, there’s no radio hits on there, but who listens to the radio nowadays anyway...?”
Stopping to chuckle, Clash feels like he might be right: “I hope people listen to it and enjoy it.”
Taking you on a journey through his nostalgic hints and DIY approach, Willie brings a very personal touch to his songwriting. “I did them all in a week and recorded them in that time at home. The one I spent most time on was probably ‘Lovelawn’ just because it has got a lot of words in it and I would go back and forth with them and switch them round.”
"When I first showed some of the stuff to my friends they were like are you OK?"
Speaking of favourites on the EP and considering lyrics, I was interested in knowing his ideas. As he pauses to think the sun gently reflects off his orange hair: “I really like ‘666 KILL’ track because I fell like if I saw that and hadn’t heard it, I’d want to listen to it. I like it when things can be indirect but still give off a heavy feeling. I like the line that says, 'It’s just love a new way' as it’s such a dark song and it’s like aw, he has a heart,” he giggles, showing off that oh-so familiar cheshire cat grin.
Having a successful album already under his belt, Willie has established unique and mellow elements in his guitar playing. Honing a woozy, blissful, slacker-rock sound, he was snapped up and before we knew it he was releasing a string of singles, and record ‘People And Their Dogs’ last year.
“When I started out being signed to a major label and putting an album out, there is this expectation that you explode and make billions of fans and lots of money.” His voice appears soft as he continues; “Then actually in reality it’s not always like that. It wasn’t like that for me but I think quite a lot of people haven’t heard that album. The people who have heard it, seem to really like it so I think it’s a bit of a slow burner, you know.”
Drawing from divergent influences and intentions this time round, I was intrigued to see if there were any artists that took a part in that. “I listen to a lot of older stuff. I’ll discover something and I’ll be like wow this is sick, then realise it was released five years ago! I find I’m generally quite behind on new releases but there is a couple of people I’ve really been into lately. There is this guy called Sam Evian who’s from New York and came over to do some shows and we supported him which was weird because I’m a massive fan and had to play it off when I first met him,” he smiled slyly.
“Another guy called Brad Stank and he’s the drummer in Trudy and the Romance but also releases his own music. Connan Mockasin too he’s really good.”
Other than being hard at work and slaving away in the studio, Healey has some upcoming live performances to look forward to later this month. “I’ve got a couple of headline shows starting on the 17th then ending on the 20th and after that I jump on tour with Gaz Coombes,” he goes on to say. “So I’ve got some shows coming up which should be cool. You definitely need that balance, and I think ultimately playing live is more fun and writing songs is more emotionally fulfilling.”
As a musician, Willie J Healey seems exceptionally enthusiastic about his craft. Already planning another album, he can’t seem to stop writing music. “It’s interesting with this EP, as I didn’t write it to put it out, I did it for fun and just got it done really quick. It’s good to keep writing and I didn’t plan on putting it out so it’s quite a bonus that people are going to hear it as I didn’t originally plan on that,” he mentions.
"It’s quite a bonus that people are going to hear it..."
“I’ve been working on the second album even though the EP isn’t out. I’m thinking spring next year is my target for that which will be another full album of band songs and some touring I’m guessing around that time too.”
Sighing in disbelief I can tell he is going to be one to watch out for. “After this tour coming up, I’ll probably be in the studio again for a while,” he admits. There is much to look forward to.
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'666 Kill' EP is out on October 19th.
Words: Lauren McDermott
Photography: Lauren McDermott
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