The music to the ears of most entertainers being interviewed is that the last question is being asked. Singapore’s Willie Tay, aka Wil, is not most entertainers, so after the final query is answered, he’s got a question for his interviewer:
“What is one thing that you can teach me in life that’s really important to you?”
He means it too, capping off a chat with one of the most unique young artists making his way through today’s pop world. Managed and mentored by Randy Jackson, Wil comes to the music biz equipped with a slick pop sound and a fresh lyrical approach that is bound to make an impression. And a positive one at that.
“When I was 13 years old and performing on stage, I saw the reaction on people’s faces, and I realized that music was a way to connect with people,” he said. “And how wonderful is that, that this invisible force could make people feel a certain way? I thought if you had lyrics that could empower people, that’s what I’ve always loved to do. I like to see people smiling, or if they’re going through a tough time in life, feel better about it because we all go through challenges in life and we want to get through that. It’s part of who I am as a person that the lyrics that I write have to have empowerment for the people to make them feel great about themselves.”
Already making noise in Asia and in his adopted home country of Spain, Wil is now based in Los Angeles, and that’s appropriate, since his “origin” story is straight out of Hollywood. Back in 2012, following a trip to Musician’s Institute in L.A., he and his parents took a vacation in Madrid. The day before they left to go home to Singapore, Wil went to a local park with his guitar.
“I was playing there and this guy came up to me and he said ‘Precioso,’” he said. “I had no idea what he was saying (Laughs), and the only other words I could make out were ‘one second.’ He passed me the phone, and it happened to be a producer in the entertainment industry who had a party that evening and they invited me to perform at the party. He said ‘what do you think about staying here in Spain to do a music video?’ It’s crazy.”
Wil went back to his parents and told them the news. Surprisingly, they were all for it.
“My dad said ‘you’ve always been so passionate about what you do, and nothing’s replaced that passion since you were a kid, so go for it, go for your passion.’”
“I said ‘Are you kidding,’” Wil laughed. “And I ended up staying. It was shocking because it was in a place that I would never have thought I would start out in music. In this life, you never expect things to happen, but you have to go with the flow.”
Wil had a hit song and video in Spain with “Hola,” despite not being a native, but he found his way around any cultural barriers.
“Being in a country where I was not familiar with the language, the most important thing was body language and communication,” he said, and as he made his way to the States, where a chance meeting with Jackson in L.A. turned into a working relationship, he learned more to make his music even more accessible.
“The difference is, in the Eastern culture, there’s a lot of internalizing, and it’s about what you feel inside,” Wil explains. “The music that I heard in Asia was very dramatic, very poetic and filled with imagery. And ever since I moved to the States and have had Randy Jackson as my manager, he has taught me the importance of Western music, which is being expressive and communicating your thoughts. So having learned things from both sides, I think it came together as a very good combination which people can learn from. As much as you speak, you have to listen.”
More importantly, for Wil, you have to think positive.
“My message for people is to embrace love, to feel and to treasure,” he said. “Life is too short and we have to treasure every moment.”