Being an unsigned artist requires passion, talent, determination, and heaps of it. The journey is no doubt tough, but can be extremely rewarding. We caught up with unsigned Norwich artist Wilstar to talk about his latest release Ghost, his EP, juggling jobs and how he dreams of performing at, and selling out big arenas.
Interview by Ben Farrin
Hi Will, thanks for your time today. As you know, I’ve been a fan of yours for a long while! I’ve kept a close eye on your music and Ghost is superb! You must be really happy with the progress you are making right now?
Thanks Ben, I really appreciate the support mate. I’m really loving the music at the moment. I feel like I have gained a lot of momentum with my last EP 33 Majik. Also, one of my tracks Ghost from the EP received over 11,000 views. My EP also has racked up over 30,000 streams on Spotify landing on some huge playlists, so I am really happy the hard work is paying off right now.
Congratulations! What’s the inspiration behind your latest track Ghost?
My inspiration to write Ghost was to emphasise how people disappear when it’s time to put the work in. Ghost was a metaphor to explain how people are not to be seen when it’s time to hustle. I played with the track Ghost to give a hard message that we have all the answers inside of us, if we tap into the infinite source of the universe. I think that a lot of people like to complain and blame external circumstances when in reality they need to look at themselves to find the answers of what failure is. Failure is also not a bad thing, if anything, it tells us what not do next.
One of your previous tracks Success, like Ghost, has an eerie kind of sound – I love it. Is this the kind of style you are going to be focusing on more?
Yesss! I love that you noticed the similarities in flow and delivery on that one! The message is also similar; however, Success is more of a personal story of how I had to change my own mindset from someone who was not working hard enough to produce the results I wanted. I feel in life, there are only really 3 possible directions. The first is falling behind the desire and dreams, the second is staying in the same place, the “comfort zone” and the third is taking massive action in the pursuit of where you want to go. I knew I had to step it up to the third zone and Success is a song that explains that journey.
You clearly put a huge amount of effort into your videos. Ghost being partly shot in the forest and Success being shot in an old abandoned RAF base from the Second World War! How much time does it take to complete a track from beginning to end, including the video?
It can vary really; it all depends on how inspired I am to get the video out. The thing is with music, we can produce and make a lot more than we can film. Filming costs money so we need to make sure that the song is good for the video. Usually, a song can be completed in around a week from mix to master. I mix, master and record everything from my home studio and this helps massively with the music process. Filming wise we can be filming for 1 – 2 days and the edit will take another 2 days to get finished. This is why it costs a lot to do, as it’s very time consuming. I love creating the whole song and video though as it completes the full vision.
How do you go about selecting the video locations?
I usually look weeks before we film for locations that suit the song. Sometimes, it can be difficult, especially when you have used all the local top-spots, you need to get creative. Sometimes though, the video can be simple and more effect orientated, meaning locations don’t matter as much. I often have a good idea of where we film before so we can be prepared to get the best shots. My video producer Tembo Visuals is a great friend of mine and we have been good friends for years. This helps massively as we have a lot of fun filming whilst creating masterpieces hahah!
Cool! How important for you is the video side of music-making?
Video is so important for me, it’s my brand and the image I want to create. I see a lot of artists creating music which is a lot cheaper, however when you miss the visuals I feel you miss a lot of the vision. It’s just something I love to do and I always ensure that I’m releasing at least 1 video once per month if I can.
Brilliant plan! Your BlackBox freestyle is seriously impressive! Have you always had the talent of being able to rap and freestyle or is this something you learned as you got older?
Thanks man I appreciate that! I started in the Drum and Bass scene so I used to just freestyle a lot! I must say something seriously took over me in the Blackbox freestyle, I was just in a mad flow where I felt possessed! The thing is when you do a Blackbox freestyle you have to have the skills – it’s non-stop from start to finish so it seriously separates the real rappers from the fake ones! I seriously respect who ever has performed one without any mistakes, it’s not easy to do!
Who inspires you musically?
Musically, I’m inspired by US and UK artists. In the US it would be J Cole who has had a massive impact on me! I just love how he keeps it real. He taught me a lot about how materialistic things are not important in my life and happiness lies from within – not external things! I have this message in my music and it primarily came from him. In the UK I love Wretch 32. I love the way he plays with words and pieces them together. His fire in the booth with Avelino was just incredible.
Is music a full-time career, or are you having to juggle jobs to generate an income?
Music is not a full-time career at the moment. I will always have other revenue sources as I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I also run another YouTube channel and Podcast so I’m a busy guy! I also run an engineering business that keeps me very busy. Juggling this with a beautiful family and being a father as well, keeps my days action packed and exciting! To be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What support is out there for upcoming artists?
Support for upcoming artists can be a little scarce I feel, if you don’t search for it! To be honest I feel if you want it bad enough you will keep searching until you find it! I have a studio service as well where I help up-and-coming beginners record and get to know the music industry. This is a great feeling for me as I love helping people out, as when I started, I had to figure out a lot myself. I hope all my advice has helped the people I have recorded for in Norwich, a lot of incredible music in Norwich has been recorded at my studio.
What keeps you motivated and determined for success?
I have a lot of WHYS to keep me motivated and working hard in my life. My biggest whys are my family. I really want to have a big family which means I need to bring as much bread home as possible. I also want to show my kids that you should follow the passions that make you happy. Never just chase money, instead, make sure that you dedicate a lot of time to the things that make you feel alive inside. This is the trick to fulfilment and happiness. I believe you need to do something for the love rather than the need to earn money from it. I also want to earn millions of pounds, so I can set up foundations that help people find their happiness and fulfilment, because I feel so many people are stuck on the wrong path, and all they need is a slight change in direction to get on the right path. If I can help people achieve this it would be incredible.
A lot of your content is inspirational and motivational words – who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is actually one of the authors that is no longer alive. I read a book called Think and Grow Rich and instantly, I felt I had a great connection with Napoleon Hill. The words he wrote in that book moved me so much and made a massive impact on my life. I try to always have the intention to inspire people who listen to my music, and I want a lesson or moral message to be conveyed to the audience. Since I read that book, I have read all of his collection that moved me in ways I couldn’t explain. For anyone that hasn’t read that one I suggest you do, it’s life changing!
What’s your favourite personal lyric you’ve written?
My favourite personal lyric I have written is:
“It’s factual it’s always gonna rain.
You can’t change the seasons but you can change the brain.
It’s how we choose to deal with the pain.
Defines the outcome of our own fate.”
This was a 4 bar from Success and it really explains that we cannot change the circumstances around us “the weather” or “the seasons”, but we can change the way we react to them. These 4 bars of words came from the quote life is 90% what happens and 10% how we react to it!
What’s the toughest thing about being an unsigned artist?
The hardest thing about being unsigned is the exposure and promotion. Labels will spend thousands on artists for a new release or video. Us independent artists have to fund this ourselves and it’s not cheap. So, the budget can be difficult to deal with at times, especially when the music is incredible but the funds won’t allow you to spread it as far as the track could go.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years’ time, I see myself selling out a big arena performing a new album that reached the UK charts all independently. I see myself fully immersed in making incredible music and giving value to everyone who listens and invests in my brand. I was always told to dream big and I will never stop 💯
With Love, kindness and Music,
CEO of Star Studio Records
-Mixing and Mastering
-Audio Studio Recording