According to some folks this Saturday will bring the end of the world (May 21). All I can say to that notion is that I hope that it is not. I have a show to go to Saturday night! Anyway, enough of that talk as we have a musician by the name Brian Willoughby to check out. I became familiar with Brian after seeing his video for “When I Dream.” I had to dig deeper and after hearing his self titled album I was hooked. If you are looking for an honest, personal, and soulful musician than Brian has all that & more. Join us today as Brian shows us his video for “When I Dream”, growing up in North Carolina, his writing process, and much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and were you effected by those terrible tornadoes?
Brian Willoughby: I’m at a small town in North Carolina called Red Springs. If you need something you’ll have to drive to the next town over to get it. Yea, those tornadoes. We just barely got missed. I couldn’t believe how devastating that was. Thought it was just a little rain and thunder. Next thing you know I’m hovering around my hallway by myself thinking of my family.
Stoli: How did growing up in North Carolina help shape the music that you create?
Brian Willoughby: Most of my childhood was around pure country with farmland all over. There was lots of sky. I could look up, lost in thought and feel how big the world was. That’s what I did a lot. I remember laying in the grass and literally looking up watching the clouds and birds go by. I would just think and dream all day long. When I heard music it was that much more intensifying. It brought me closer with my thoughts…and in my mind I heard it everywhere. My grandparents on both sides listened to southern country. They had the habit of turning up their clock radios and cranking out some tunes. My Aunt would listen to the new stuff of the time. Everything from Michael Jackson, LL Cool J, you name it. I even remember her getting a tiny Michael Jackson record player with UPC cutouts she saved off of cereal boxes and we just spun these tiny records she had all day. My uncle on the other hand would sit out washing and waxing his Camaro blasting Percy Sledge and other stuff with soul on the car radio. My godfather loved the oldies and rock and roll. All I can remember is him hitting the steering wheel singing “Might as well face it you’re addicted to love!”. He gave me my first guitar when I was three. It was a kiddie guitar with plastic strings and I would run around jumping off my Aunts bed AC/DC style singing Elvis and Johnny B. Goode, which I learned from watching Back To The Future.
Stoli: Your album has received radio play and licensing offers. How does that feel to have your music accepted by the industry?
Brian Willoughby: It feels tremendous. It’s a dream come true literally. I don’t take it for granted. I really feel lucky and blessed that others enjoy my music and want to put it out there and use it for something.
Stoli: How much time per day do you spend online networking & marketing your music?
Brian Willoughby: I remember going to the doctor one time with a knot in my neck and I was freaking out. The doctor came in, looked at my neck and asked me “What have you been doing lately?”. I said something like “Nothing really, just working on the computer”. Stay off the computer was the doctor’s orders and he sent me home with plenty of pain meds. Yea, I was that serious for a while. After that I began thinking of ways to be more efficient online with a lot less time. I might spend one to three hours nowadays online.[youtube B71ocw37Vp0 nolink]
Stoli: When did you first start writing music & where does your inspiration come for your lyrics?
Brian Willoughby: I started writing music when I was seventeen after hearing about this regional talent show. It was coming to North Carolina and my Aunt was like “You should go play”. So I had a friend come over to the house so we could practice. My mom, him and I were in the living room and while we were all talking I started fiddling on the guitar. This is something that I still do nowadays by the way, and it drives my bandmates crazy. I wasn’t even paying attention to what I was doing and they stopped and looked and said “What is that you’re playing?”. At first I thought I was just playing something off the radio. Then I realized I was playing something completely new…something I had never heard of. I remember this happening and it was like my soul was talking back to me through my fingertips. That was the intro to “No Complaints”. I started writing it three days before the show. I think that’s what really inspired me to write that song. Ever since then I’ve been writing the same way. Life inspires me. You name it. Everything. Society, relationships, whatever I feel passionate about. When I’m by myself sometimes I’ll sit and think of the world out there and what I could be doing. Then I pick up my guitar. I sink myself deep into solitude. It’s like I go away to that dream world of thought from when I was a child. I close my eyes, feel the music and sing what I’m feeling. I’m not talking about singing a whole song. It’s usually one line or two that I repeat over and over. That’s how I dig deep into my soul and pull it out. I take those words and think to myself “This must be what I’m feeling” and that’s the beginning of a new song. I look down at the words that come after and it’s like I’m hearing them for the first time.
Stoli: The album is very personal & low key. Would you say that is how your personality is in real life?
Brian Willoughby: I think the songs I’m working on now may better reflect my personality in real life at least today. I mean you have nuances of me in this album but some of the songs on the album were written when I first started writing music and I’ve kept them with me because I think they were that important. During that time I had already been through a roller coaster ride. My teenage mind was spinning out of control, I had school troubles and none of my relationships even came close to working out. Some of the things you hear on the album are a lot of how I wished things could have been…dreams and hopes for what was to come. I think I still connect with “No Complaints” because you’ve gotta just take what you have and keep pushing forward. The song “Say”, I remember how I felt when I wrote that and I wasn’t even dating at the time…but I remember feeling it. I’ve definitely grown as a person and I’ve learned a lot, but I’m a very passionate person with everything in life. I think that’s gonna continue to reflect through my music. As I keep growing my music will keep growing.
Stoli: Has a past lover ever got upset that you talked about them in a song, explain?
Brian Willoughby: Naw, that’s never really happened. I have been asked before, “Is that about me?” and I’m like “Nope”, and that’s what I usually stick with. But when I write a song it’s not necessarily about someone in particular, anyway. It’s usually in general…what I felt at this time mixed with a little of what I felt at “that” time. Sometimes I might see what others have been through and relate what I’ve been through with that.
Stoli: Do you work a job as well or are you music full time?
Brian Willoughby: Totally dedicated to music. If I need money I go out there and make it happen. It’s taken a lot of sacrificing and being broke but I live in a music world.
Stoli: What other interests or hobbies do you have besides playing music?
Brian Willoughby: I love going to concerts, makes me feel alive and part of something. I went and seen Paramore when they came to Raleigh last year and they were awesome! Oh, and I love technology…electronics, things like that.
Stoli: What aspect of being a musician makes you the most insecure or vulnerable?
Brian Willoughby: What if I fail? What if people don’t like what I’m doing? Those kinda get in the way sometimes. This has caused me to turn down opportunities in the past because I thought I just wasn’t good enough. Sometimes I forget that I’m not the only one and that there’s other people out there saying “Look man, I like what you’re about!”. So there’s always this fight with myself to not hold back and give people the real me. When I break free from that that’s when I write my best songs.
Stoli: What is coming up for Brian Willoughby and where are you online?
Brian Willoughby: I want to do some more music videos. I really have some great ideas and can’t wait to see how they play out. I’ve been working on some new music. I personally think it’s some of the best I’ve ever written and when the timing is right I’m gonna head back into the studio. Right now I’ll be out playing this summer. Be sure to check out my music video of “When I Dream” and download a copy of the song from Amazon or iTunes. You can find me at www.brianwilloughby.net and join me on Facebook to keep up with my upcoming shows.