Profile: William Harryman, a.k.a. WillieJ.
NorCal/SoCal: Bay Area!
Major: 4th year B.S. Environmental Studies
Favorite sex position: the Wheelbarrow
Favorite drink: Jack and Coke
Favorite dank beer: Lagunitas seasonal
Some would say the best feature of the I.V. party scene is the legions of scrumdiddliumptious women (and men) who roam the streets like a wild pack of chinchillas, force-fed an exclusive diet of Spanish Fly and spiced rum. Some would say it’s the dangerous edge honed onto a night of schmutzy debauchery that you get from playing weekly “Cliff Roulette.” Some might even say it’s the pleasure you get from breaking all seven deadly sins in a single night and then being able to go and describe it in lurid detail to some horrified Christians who might even serve you up a burger if your story isn’t too pornographic.
But that’s all bullshit. The best part of getting totally buck wild in Isla Vista, California is being able to go out Saturday night, maybe drinking a few beers with your buddies, and all of the sudden having a guy from your fucking chemistry class jamming out live to a stoked crowd out in someone’s back yard. And he’s good! That’s fucking awesome.
In an attempt to learn a little bit more about the music rocking out in my backyard, I sat down with the highly talented William Harryman, a.k.a. WillieJ., A.S. Program Board production coordinator and the founder of A.S. Open-Mic Night, to talk to him about his own music, the music scene in I.V. and his vision of what direction that scene is heading in.
Chris: So tell me a bit about how you started making music.
Willie J.: Well I started in high school with a friend of mine, Ian Brent. We didn’t have much to do in high school, so we would just kick it and make beats, and then, you know, rap. And then on the weekends we would get some homies together and we would just rap for hours.
C: I know you got started playing through the A.S. Open Mic Night. How’d that go down?
W.J.: I rapped at my first open-mic when I was a sophomore in college, at the time it was awesome, and I tried to keep up with it. I did a couple songs here or there, but after a while I just decided I wanted to run it myself. I have a lot of mutually talented friends too, and they all wanted to showcase, and you know, do their thing, so this year I proposed a budget to the A.S. Program Board, and I got a couple hundred bucks for pizza, and some money for publicity. It’s a good event because we don’t need to pay for talent. Usually there’s like 20-25 performers every time, so a lot of kids have fun. We have it at Gio’s, and the outside gets pretty filled up too so usually there’s at least 100-150 people there. People have a good time, ya know?
C: How was that for you, taking over something like that and then watching it really take off.
W.J.: It’s cool, in a way it’s so cool I don’t even think about it. I’m just going with it, just riding it out, just seeing what happens with it. The quality of every single act is good and unique in its own way, and it’s so cool to see the local I.V. talent — everyone who lives here just showcasing their skills, when they don’t usually get to. And the free pizza helps.
C: Was that your idea?
W.J.: Yea. Maybe people come for the pizza and not the music haha. But I hope not.
C: Do you rap high or sober?
WJ: Oh no, I like it either way. In front of a crowd, in front of people, I like to be not that high, but sometimes I come up with some really creative stuff when I’m high and, you know, I listen to it the next day sober and I’m like, ‘Wow, that was actually pretty interesting.’
C: How do you think the I.V. music scene has been changing over the years?
W.J.: The evolution of I.V. music is just crazy. It used to just be rock, acoustic, vocals. Jack Johnson, he was doing his thing, the Rebelution era got the reggae down and then came Steve Aoki, who totally blew up the DJ scene. I mean, now he’s just huge, world-famous. Now a lot of it is dance music, hype-up, party — you know, techno, dubstep, music people just want to get wild to.
I’m trying to take it in a little bit of a different direction, where it’s not just electronic, it’s a little more vocal; I try to get the I.V. lifestyle in my music, so I talk about what it’s like to get an MIP, chillin’ and drinking a 30-rack. I really try to incorporate the culture into my music.
C: Where would you like to see the I.V. music scene go from here?
W.J.: I.V. is a breeding ground of just insane artists. I’d love open-mic night to keep going. Totally, 100 percent. I would like more live music. There’s a decent amount now, but there could be so much more. Diversity of everything. I wanna hear a violin at a party. I wanna hear Yo-Yo Ma style. Everything, you know? I’m also working to bring artists together and inspire collaboration. I’d like to see a developed network of artists who all like music and all want to contribute to the same cause — play good music at parties and play good music at open-mic.
C: So if I’m throwing a rager and I’m not looking to just have some guy on an iPod, but I want some sick live music, where do I go to find the artist?
W.J.: There’s not really anything like that right now. I started a website called williejmusic.com. It’s got a home page, a page of up-and-coming music, and right now I’m working on a forum where artists can post to collaborate, but also a place where if some guy’s like, ‘Hey I got a keg and a venue,’ he can find someone to come jam out at his party.