Boston-based independent recording artist Will Dailey‘s advice to aspiring singer-songwriters is to seek out experiences that you can call on in your work, and “listen, not just to music, but to everything around you.” It seems to have worked for him. He grew up surrounded by music from across the spectrum from Classical to Folk and says it all left an imprint. He exercises the the songwriter’s prerogative to call on whatever styles of influences seem appropriate for the song. The result is songs that are rich and complex, gathered into albums that are varied and full of surprises, refusing to be constrained by the conventions of a narrow style of genre.
A hard working and prolific artist, Dailey has done well for himself since his first self-produced release in 2004, GoodbyeRedBullet, in spite of being repeatedly knocked around by the vicissitudes of a recording industry struggling to come to terms with the digital age. He’s released 4 albums to date, 5 if you count Torrent Volume 1 and 2 separately. Collectively they reveal a songwriter with mastery over a wide variety of styles, and an interest in exploring a wide musical pallet. And while each album has it’s own distinctive feel, each is also a a musical buffet of sorts, with varying musical styles juxtaposed and hidden gems to discover.
Though still a young artist, Will Dailey has paid his dues. To give just two examples, he sold his car to make his first album, and borrowed heavily to finance the promotional tour. Then, while out on that tour, he was stricken with appendicitis with no health insurance and had to cancel many dates. He’s been signed to a major label, only to see the label go out of business. Yet, as you’ll hear in the interview, he maintains a gracious attitude toward everyone involved. More importantly, he maintains a strong and loyal fan base. He has twice received the Boston Music Award for Best Male Singer-Songwriter, and a great deal of acclaim in both local and national media.
If you watch shows like NCIS, 90210, Numb3rs or even As the World Turns, there’s a good chance you’ve heard his music, even if you didn’t know it. You may also have heard it in a skateboard video or movie soundtack. See a long but partial list here. Interestingly, he likes when artists in other media use his music because it means they “felt it was right for what they were working on as well,” though he often can’t listen to it when it is played.
My first exposure to his music came when I was going to a concert headlined by another artist, and I barely knew who he was. As soon as he took that stage that night, I was impressed! He was playing solo, without his band, yet he kept me enthralled. His songs were diverse and captivating, and his personality was engaging. His voice is elastic with a distinctive tone, and he knows his way around the guitar. I became an instant fan, determined to get my hands on the whole Will Dailey catalog.
He made it easy, offering the whole thing on a USB bracelet! That may be a good way to sum up the artists Will Dailey in a nutshell. He’s not afraid of the digital age. He sells USB bracelets at his shows, and he’s comfortable releasing music digitally. Torrent Volumes 1 & 2 are anthologies of songs that were released digitally first, and the whole thing was mastered using T Bone Burnett‘s Code standard. But he’s also releasing this new record on vinyl, and said he wanted his last album to have the feel of an 80s Tom Petty record. It even had a cover designed to look like it was a vinyl LP. He also says he’s constantly trying to make his own Zeppelin III, and there is definitely a retro element to a lot of his music. To paraphrase what he said in the interview, since he’s being called the songwriter, he can do what he wants.
When I learned he was working on a new album, I had to find out more. He was gracious enough to let me join him one afternoon in Q Division Studios in Somerville to talk about the new album he’s working supported by fans who contributed to it through a campaign on the crowdfunding site PledgeMusic.com. We also talked about his career to date, songwriting, and more.
Be advised that the video below is a bit of a mess. I was working with an unfamiliar camera and I’d forgotten my tripod on the day of the interview. I made the bad decision to hold the camera in my hand. Consequently the lighting is bad, and there are times when he drifts completely out of frame. All of that could have been corrected in editing, but then my computer died, I got sick, and… Well… You get the picture.
In the end I decided to get this to you sooner rather than later, while there’s still a little time to make a pledge and get National Throat before it’s release next year. You might also want to catch Will live in the US or in France this November.
In any case, enjoy the interview!