“I have a tendency to daydream”: Westerman on his ‘Ark’ EP
Performing under his last name, WILL WESTERMAN in 2018 is, you could say, proper deep within this project.
Back in 2016, he kicked it off with a run of tracks that would later become his Harvard EP. It’s interesting reflecting on these particular sounds when comparing to his 2018 release, Ark because if anything, there’s a massive sense of growth and change running rampant throughout the comparison.
Where Harvard was Westerman embracing his folk roots, Ark is a rejection of those roots.
Sprinkling inklings of electronic dust over the soundscape of this one, it’s not an electronic record as such, but sparingly uses choice electronic moments to elevate and recontextualise those sounds Westerman first explored on his debut.
This particular body of work explores the subtleties of sound. Off-kilter vocal harmonies, quiet guitar fills and minimal percussion characterise this EP, and ultimately what we’re offered is a wholistic body of work that isn’t afraid to be both quiet and bold.
To get to know Westerman and what the EP means to him, we sat down to have a lil chat.
‘Outside Sublime’ is a message of support, and it’s an enduring one at that. How important
is it to you to create both music and a message that will endure?
Thank you, I hope I can do that. Aesthetics are very relative and fluid but I like most those artistic expression in whatever medium which lock in on universals and unchanging points of shared understanding. I think it’s probably the best measure of quality, how it holds up retrospectively. I certainly hope I create a body which has that.
Your sound is the perfect balance between melodic and effortless. What does the word
balance mean to you as an artist?
It’s really important! It’s something I think we’re all trying to find in our lives to varying degrees. I lose it regularly. In music there is a story in the melody, it undulates. It’s important to be aware of that when you are framing it, and to not suffocate it. So so important.
The EP was recorded in an intense 3-day period with little sleep or contact with anyone. Do
you work best under pressure?
I’m not sure. I always put a lot of pressure on myself regardless of deadlines. But having little time I think helps in sharpening the thinking. I have a tendency to daydream so time sensitivity helps scare that out of me. Whether that leads to my best work I don’t know! I like to think my best work will be when I have a bit more time and space than I’ve had this year.
You wrote the tracks on this EP whilst you were travelling. Can you tell us a little bit about
how this might have influenced your creative process?
I wrote them between travels at home actually, I am yet to find a way of working effectively while on the road. There’s too many other people around all the time. I think having been travelling much more with the music before the writing and knowing I was about to go away again definitely influenced the way I put it together. I wanted it to have a sense of transit about it without explicitly referencing tired out ‘road’ imagery.
I think over time it’s not that you’ve incorporated more electronic elements into your music,
but you’ve become more choosy about where and how you use them. How have you
chosen to use these electronic elements on this EP?
I wanted to use them less for this EP. A lot of the time the choice of electronic elements have been partly aesthetic based and partly out of necessity. This time I had a day session with Joe who plays keys with me and Ben Reed who is a wonderful bass player. I just let them play and recorded it. Then we sorted through. I wanted it to feel a bit looser and a bit more breathing again like the EP last year. The electronics this time were usually more for atmosphere than melody.
Your lyricism on the EP feels like an organised stream of consciousness, but you’ve previously
described your thoughts as chaotic. Do you find that songwriting helps you organise what
Yes I find it helps a lot to create when I’m feeling all knotted. Sometimes when things become overwhelming you feel like you might burst. That’s always been a good time to play guitar for me.
Now that you’ve got a number of releases under your belt and have played a bunch of
shows, can you tell us a little bit about what this particular EP means to you as a body of
work in comparison to your earlier releases?
I’m glad I managed to make something with a different scope to what I’ve done previously. I like the EP – I have learnt things from making it. I think these tracks are really bare – which I’m glad I was able to do. It’s a bit early to tell for me what else I think of it – I’ll let you know if that’s ok.
Photo by James Sinclair
Intro by CAITLIN MEDCALF