Spotlight Artist: Will Knox
Will Knox was born in London, studied music at Berklee in Boston and now lives in New York City, if that’s not enough to inspire a lifetime of music, we don’t know what is! Inspired and inspiring, his blend of folksy alternative music spins a web of imagery which he captured perfectly by releasing his latest release Lexicon as a comic book. Citing influnces likeTracy Chapman to Ryan Adams to Nick Drake Knox is a true delight through and through.
Currently out on tour with Matt White and Brendan james on “The Troubadour Tour” through mid March we recently caught up with him to talk shop!
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty
For your latest release Lexicon you took a different avenue for its presentation, a comic book designed by Robin Ha. Explain to our readers why you chose this, and why it is so fitting for you and this record?
Lexicon is an effort to bring music, artwork and lyrics closer together. Since 12″ vinyls gave way to cassettes and CD’s, and ultimately MP3′s, artwork has had less and less of an importance in the eyes of the industry. I strongly believe if musicians are going to sell tangible records any more they have to be more than just a plastic jewel case and a headshot. I really think music fans want interesting artwork too. So we released the record strictly as a comic book – no CD’s, records, or cassettes, just a digital download code on the inside cover. As you listen to the songs you can follow the lyrics as the script of the story. Instead of spending our money on manufacturing plastic CDs and jewel cases we found a way of using the same budget on reproducing comic books with download codes, which I think is a little more fun! Lyrics are extremely important to me, so it’s nice to be able to feature them in a visual way. They’re fuelled by a lot of metaphors and imagery, which hopefully helped Robin come up with some inspiration for the illustrations.
Your music is described as folk/alternative. To be honest, this was never my music of choice but, you my dear, have made me a fan! I love your musical poetry! Take us through a couple of your favorite tracks off the new record, how they came about and what they mean to you.
Yes, so glad to have you on the other side! I really enjoy playing “Ice Capades” – it’s about being at your wit’s end, making mistakes and not being able to learn from them. Maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t the right word, but no matter how many times I play it I still feel what I felt when the lyrics came out the first time. I wrote it about 10 minutes after a co-writing session had been cancelled, and just had a lot of pent-up creative energy.
“Sugar Cube” was also a lot of fun to make. We experimented with a slightly more psychedelic tone, and more electric instruments than I’m used to. Most of my songs are very acoustically driven, but this song seemed to change the whole EP in to something a little more electric and quirky.
Originally from Hammersmith in London, you came to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA at the age of 18. What led to the decision to jump the pond and study in Boston?
Probably naivety but mostly a drive and curiosity that most 18 year olds have to see the world and learn and experience new things. I’d heard great things about the college, and was going to go for 8 months originally – I had no idea I’d end up staying in this country for another 6 years (and possibly more).
Growing up our parents seem to have the greatest of influences on us, your musical influences included. Talk to us about these influences and how you believe they molded you in to the musician you have become.
That is an interesting question. My Dad is a keen music fan and often took me to shows like The Rolling Stones (my first show!), Michael Jackson, The Who, James Brown. I would play video games in the same room he would listen to records, and for some strange reason I’ll always associate ‘Hook’ on the Super Nintendo with K.D. Lang. He isn’t musical himself, but encouraged me to pick up the guitar when I was a little shy to say I wanted to. Funnily enough my Mum has just started playing the piano. Both of them are extremely supportive, and I think their encouragement has molded me in to the musician I am much more than their musical tastes have. That said, I did just steal their entire collection of vinyls.
Currently out supporting Brendan James and Matt White on the east coast leg of their co-headlining tour, what are you looking forward to the most?
Honestly I look forward each night to waking up and doing it all over again. I’m going to miss it when it’s finished. I’m excited to see more of the south – Alabama, Tennessee and Florida. I went to Third and Lindsley in Nashville to see a show once, and remember thinking how fun it would be to play there one day – now that day’s coming up!
What is one thing you can’t live without on tour?
What a dangerous question. As much as I’d like to have a rock star answer, I think clean laundry takes the prize.
In a previous interview you were quoted to answer that if you were on a deserted island and could bring three things you would bring a case of Jameson, an ice machine, and a glass. When asked a favorite quote you stated “When life gives you lemons, ask for tequila and salt”. So I’m going out on a limb and going to ask if you had to choose between Tequila and Jameson, what would it be?
Jameson. Jameson makes everything better, Tequila makes everything weirder.
“I’m Going to Kill You in Your Sleep” might be one of my favorite live songs I’ve ever heard! While not on one of your records, I just had to make it into an MP3 for my iPod. While it has a sadistic theme, the song is very upbeat and fun and speaks what many of us wish we could! Any plans to include it on a future recording?
Haha, absolutely none. I have no idea how it could work on a record with any of my other songs, so I think it’ll just be a live song for the rest of its life. But who knows, maybe it’ll be a fun secret track one day.
Where would you like music to take you?
To wherever people want to listen. I’ve seen a lot of the States through music, and met a lot of people I never would have met otherwise. Hopefully I can keep doing that in more and more countries.