An artist with roots in Pori, Finland, mixes high-pitched synths with a dash of Rock & Roll, EDM components with a dash of Funk, and your musical stew is ready to go. Anyone and everyone can relate to a story thanks to the lyrics’ universal themes and attitude-filled vocal performances. Willjoy was born in the late 1980s, and his music clearly reflects those influences, albeit with a contemporary spin.
The adaptability of the soundscape will keep you on the edge of your seat or make you jump up and down while listening, whether it’s to make you dance or light a candle in the dark. Willjoy is a storyteller who sings compiling poems, rhymes, and proverbs into songs. Through sounds and lyrics, you can feel uplifted or be led to conduct a thorough internal soul search.
An artist with enough versatility to last a lifetime in the music business can draw inspiration from musicians like Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, RHCP, and The Killers.
With only two years in the music industry, he released his debut album, One Coin Two Sides. Some may think it is quite impressive to learn everything from scratch and create an entire album by yourself. Check out the album and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
WILLJOY: I never thought music could be my true calling and inspiration in life. It took me years to find myself, and look at my life critically. Have the courage to set all the pieces together and pursue my dream to make this possible. Making music started as an emotional outlet, but then it brought me a whole career. Music is a source of inspiration and a way to express myself on a whole new level. I started with a small piece of equipment, with shitty headphones, on a shitty laptop on one of those long and dark Finnish winter nights. Even when I was working in a factory, I blasted music from my headphones on a full volume, singing my heart out for all my coworkers’ pleasure. This is why I often got into trouble with the management. But they couldn’t dim my light even though they tried. I decided to quit everything else and pursue my truest passion, music.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
WILLJOY: Purely self-taught, but taking mentorships if the fit is right! Talking about formal training, I didn’t get to do much, even in basic music classes at school. In my early childhood, I was curious about drums and wanted to play them at school. That often led to me sneaking up to the music room and playing drums secretly. Teachers started to hide the drumsticks, but that didn’t stop me, since I found long pencils to play with. Since I was born, I wanted to make noise and raise havoc.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘WILLJOY’?
WILLJOY: I was surrounded by music growing up, since my family consumed all kinds of tunes. My first ever recording was to sing “Beegees – Staying Alive” on top of a casette tape that I found. Little did I know at the time, that recording on top of a song, didn’t come with the other elements of the song, so it was just a little boys voice blasting out of the speakers without melody, and imitating the BeeGees sound. Maybe, I’ll hide it in one of my songs in the future! Haha! Music as a form, has a way of envoking different feelings and being emotional outlet, which refers to my stage name JOY from the WILL. The name Willjoy is also my own translation out of my parent given name Viljo which reminds the sound I would say my name with a Texan accent. The name also has a third meaning but I doubt that I would ever release it public. Using a stage name makes it easier to find your seperate identity as a artist and making something on your own without strong outside influence.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
WILLJOY: Whether it’s Funk, Rock, EDM, House, or “that” genre, I have to have an electronic signature to every song I produce. In my opinion, making everything on a computer shouldn’t always try to sound as real as possible. Sometimes, I decide to go in another direction with the message, and then find out what the melody tries to resonate and suggest. I do this by just flipping things over once and a while. I don’t want to hide my messages under complex wordplay or symbolism. Because, if I’m parodying something like the 80’s Rock & Roll music’s main messages, I don’t want people to miss out on that completely. My sound is underground in the sense that it works in more intimate settings. The venue that always comes to mind is like the battling stage from the 8 Mile movie.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
I think music should get more controversial than it is now in the major leagues of the music industry. In the “good old days,” songs tended to have deeper messages. Music was the driver or vehicle of many changes in people’s attitudes and overall culture. Having a big platform and power comes with some kind of responsibility to get political, cultural, spiritual, social, and many other things. It’s important to believe in your music, and get better as a human being and an artist. Music has a healing power that can help us cope when the time gets rough. By making music, I am not only bettering myself, but I hope to help others as well. Fellow artists and listeners alike. But all that said, I think that music should always be entertaining and exciting with something personal attached to it.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
You’ll never know where the road leads you when you start a new project. Creating a new song from start to finish has so many phases when you work on your own, that everything in between is a ride! Song making process gets me to feel a huge sense of accomplishment and pride, so I feed off of that mostly. Where the expectation lies for the future is to perform in more venues and meet people across the globe. Music always gives me fulfillment, whether I’m listening or making it.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
Every so often I just wing it! I tend to start by sketching a frame of the song with either a synth/piano, bass, or drums. Once I’ve established some kind of groove, I’ll start to add more elements to it. The instruments vary after that, but the holy trinity is the same in the beginning. Sometimes, I get a potential song idea in my head, or I hear a certain melody in my dream. In these situations, I immediately record it by humming it to my phone. I play it back on my song editing program and transfer it into a real song. I also check if the new melodies could be implemented in any of my current projects or if would it be wiser to make a new song out of it. These are the situations when the song takes a new direction than was originally intended. This makes it an interesting journey! Vocals and the story forms once, I’ve managed to establish the song’s atmosphere. This happens after the melody has found its shape. I usually do vocal melodies first. It consists of me singing gibberish on top of the song. Once I have recorded the best pieces, I add them up and then see/hear what’s the story behind the gibberish. Sometimes the gibberish parts sound like something real, so the translation comes easy. I get to collaborate with other artists too rarely. It’s a shame. I’ have a couple of collaborations that are already out there in the world to prove I’m more than capable, and maybe more importantly, fun to work with! I’m sure there’s more to come in the future.;)
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
WILLJOY: My father’s passing. That was the turning point for me to reflect on how to live my life. I asked myself “do I want to be stuck in a dead-end job, with no future advancements in sight? Work for someone who doesn’t even like me? Get a gold watch for 30 years of service in the company and get laid off?” And then, maybe get sick and that’s it? My answer was no. Just making what you love is the ultimate job for everyone. The effort you have to put in to get there is hard, but worth the climb I’ll tell you that! (I might’ve traveled somewhere just there.)
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
WILLJOY: Getting my first album done, finished, and completed as a whole. After I got my hands on my first ever CD of my own, I just lost the plot. I was so happily proud of the achievement that I could ride the feeling for days! It was a huge learning experience and the seeds I’ve planted are still sprouting in my new projects. I was able to gradually build more and more of my home studio and up my gear and skills at the same time, and I’m super proud to have found the work I wanna do for the rest of my life. I will devote my time and effort in every which way to make the most of myself and hopefully help someone along the way. The ability of growing and learning exponentially. It’s easy to be proud of that whatever the case.
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