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Interview: Willy Dynamo

31 Jul 2017 spotlight words by Terence Ill
Interview: Willy Dynamo

Willy Dynamo is the brainchild of Melbourne producer 2nd Thought who just released his first feature-length album under his 70's inspired alter ego.

I met with Will to talk about how and why Willy Dynamo came to life.

Tell me about how Willy Dynamo came into existence.

Willy: Willy Dynamo is based on the movie character Willy Dynamite. I wanted to portray him as a younger guy, so I could add to the story and theme of that movie. So, my character is like straight out of high school, this homie who has all this testosterone that he needs got out. [laughs]

How long did you play around with this concept in your head before you started making moves on it?

Willy: I started watching the movie when I came to Cairns in 2014. Mike [a mutual friend] was the one who hooked me up with the it. I was like, oh yeah, sick. And Mike was like, man, you gotta do something with this. So, I came back to Melbourne with that idea. Originally I wanted to have someone else rapping. I was looking and looking for somebody - I was thinking my brother [One Sixth] would probably do it, but he didn't catch on to the idea when I tried to explain it to him.

Then I was just going to do an instrumental album, and just use the samples from the movie. I was thinking of Oh No and his Ohnomite album and I was going to do something similar. So I did that. I made all these beats and put some of the dialog from the movie over it. But something was missing. I needed something to carry the concept, it all sounded too stripped back and incomplete. So, I was like scrap this. And I sold all the beats I made for it.

So, you start all over again?

Willy: Yeah, I started from scratch. I had fucked my back up at work and wasn't able to work for nearly 18 months. I couldn't do anything, I couldn't even walk. So, I was home most of the time and watched the movie over and over again and slowly started writing rhymes. I would find pieces from the movie that I could relate with and then go from there. After that I was like, alright, cool, I now know the style of rap I want to use. So, I started rapping these rhymes over some of my beats to see how they would sit.

I did 16 songs and still wasn't feeling it. I had never rapped before and never recorded myself, so I spent 6 months listening to these 16 tracks, listening to my voice and trying to work out what was missing. Eventually I started reaching out for beats.

For real? For some reason I thought it was all your production.

Willy: A lot of it is, but I just needed something else to add another flavour to it. It was all sounding a bit 'the same'. I needed somebody else to take me into another direction. I reached out to Royalz. I wrote to two of his beats and Neephy is on one of the other tracks. Neephy was crashing on my couch at the time so I was like, if you're going to sleep on my couch you're gonna have to do something for me. [laughs] He was actually on a few tracks but I didn't release them, so they'll probably be on another project. All up that project took me ten months, start to finish. But yeah, ideas-wise, a lot longer than that.

Was a vinyl release part of the initial concept?

Willy: It wasn't always the plan, but I'm happy it turned out that way. It just fits perfectly with the theme and the whole 70's thing, so I think it finishes it off nicely.

This is your first album-sized release, right?

Willy: Yeah, I have executive-produced an instrumental thing with a few of my homies before - Nate Smith, Dyl Thomas, Pabstract and Janaka - it was an instrumental release. But I've always wanted to release something with vocals, because I feel that adds feeling to it. A lot of the instrumental stuff I was going to release I didn't release, because it was missing that.

Through your brother Aaron you have been able to make a lot of useful connections over the years that other artists don't have yet when they release their first major project. I think you're quite fortunate in that regard. Do you feel that way?

Willy: Yeah, I'm definitely blessed in that way. I've paid my dues going to a lot of shows to support other artists, going to a lot of recording sessions and just being around - being involved. I didn't even really look at it as networking at the time, but it is definitely paying off now. I had a lot of people I could ask for opinions. Henry [Discourse] and Frank from Union Heights were probably the ones I called on the most. Those guys, they know a lot and they're happy to share what they know and give you an external opinion on your music.

It's so easy to get lost in your own shit, isn't it? Like an echo chamber. You listen to your own project so much that you start doubting yourself and whether what you're doing is actually any good.

Willy: Yeah, definitely. I was living down the road from Union Heights and there was this period where I was just stuck. I didn't know where I wanted to go [with this project]. So, I would just go into the shop and talk to Frank about where I was at and how I was feeling about stuff. Even just the music scene, where I would fit in an all that. He basically just told me to go ahead with my gut-feeling. That helped me a lot. Sometimes, just having someone to re-assure you that you're not going mad helps you push on.

You told me you're looking at doing live shows soon. The concept is very bold in terms of its visual and musical theme. Are you worried at all about whether you can take that hype you are creating with the music and visuals to a live stage?

Willy: No, I'm pretty confident I can do that. I've been practicing my acting [pauses]... at home [laughs]... with my wife as the director.[laughs]

She's a photographer, right? Didn't she film the very first Willy Dynamo clip?

Willy: Yeah, she did. It was funny, that was the start of this whole album. That was the first song to be finished. I wrote it in that same Jacuzzi you can see in the clip. [laughs]

What, like with one of those under-water pens?

Willy: [laughs] No, I freestyled it. Then I was like, should we shoot a clip for this? And she was like, yeah, let's do it.

Just stay in there, I'll get the camera...

Willy: [laughs] Yeah, pretty much. It was quite raw in the beginning. Then I looked up some DIY video tutorials for lighting and stuff on Youtube, I organised a smoke machine got some lights and it all came to life.

You've got some dope shirt designs going as well?

Willy: Yeah, you know, when I moved to Australia ten years ago, all the dudes around me, when they put music out it always came with physical stuff. There was always a tape, or vinyl, a CD, a shirt, a poster, a hat - you know, like a package. So I wanted to do that as well, to basically add another dimension to the whole project.

Where are you going to take Willy Dynamo next?

Willy: I was thinking about introducing a second character to the Willy Dynamo story. That's my little secret. [laughs]

I really want to have fun with it, you know? I've also been playing with the idea of a short film about Willy Dynamo. I feel like I'm around the right people to be able to pull off something like that.

Yeah, you got me excited about that already. Lastly, if I asked you to recommend a song from the album to someone who hasn't heard it yet, which song would it be? And why?

Willy: There's a song called Tuff Love, which features a friend of mine from back home. It's basically about being a broke artist. It's about people showing you love by giving you good feedback and Facebook likes and stuff, but they are really hard to get to go see one of your gigs, or they still won't buy your music. You know, you get recognition but that still won't pay your rent. [laughs] I felt like the whole pimp theme fits in there really well as well. So, it all comes together in that one song.

Thanks, Willy. Good luck with it all. Looking forward to the next chapter.

Willy: Thank you, bro.


Listen to Dynamic, buy a vinyl, download the digital version and/or buy a shirt.

You can do all that right here: