INNER VIEW : Bill Waters

Bill Waters could be likened to a lemon balm plant sprouting through the cracks in a dirty NYC sidewalk. His music a warm cave to crawl into to escape the madness of the city while still showing the effects it has on ones psyche.  What do I mean by these shit, desperate attempts to be poetic?  He provides the ease and comfort but not in the conventional way – in a New York way – warmth via bluntness, dark humor and a little cynicism.  Our first proper in-person interaction after meeting was when he curiously leaned in while Chiara was jokingly showing me a photo that popped up on instagram of a reoccurring creepy character in her life and he asked “what are we looking at? what’s funny?” (which I thought was great) so we told him the backstory of this person and then he immediately straight-faced offered to kill him.  Then the next few minutes we all spent jokingly, yet straight-faced plotting the whole thing. We then gave Bill a psychopath test (which he passed – can confirm not a psycho) These are the kinds of people I find comfortable to be around. Maybe there is something wrong with me but it’s not common to be able to jump right into my normal psychotic dark humor with people I just met. And that’s what I mean about Bill. Fuck it. If you are willing to open the window a crack you find everyone else around is an absolute whack job just like you so why pretend? Realness is rarely all flowers and sunshines as a matter of fact I think it pretty much never is.  

This was on the rooftop of the Sultan Room in Bushwick, where we were playing a show together that night with legends, John Roseboro and Santa Chiara.  Rewind back to the summer, I was interneting and stumbled upon John’s music which then led me to Bill and his music. I first heard the song “Only One” that starts with Bill singing the line “Like a death threat to your therapist…” in a defeated 3AM croon. Yup, this is my language.  The song trickles on, sonically it feels like a sonic womb, maybe like how I feel when I listen “Pale Blue Eyes” by Velvet Underground and drops a multitude of lines that make me laugh internally.  On a surface level these days it’s hard to sift thru the swamp of the indie world of potentially “lo-fi” and “bedroom pop” music – and while aesthetically Bill’s music can satisfy that urge for modern familiarity there’s so much more depth here than is normally found – these are great songs, this is good, clever writing and in talking with Bill further he has a huge ocean of musical history and influence he is understands and is pulling from. Anyway, I am gonna shut the fuck up now and let Bill do the talking, Welcome to inner view with Bill Waters. For the ADHD: At least Stream Bill’s latest singles here.

RG: For the sake of introduction – can you give a brief history of whatever you feel is relevant to giving context to the Bill Waters you want people to know and understand. 

BW: I’ve been recording music and playing in bands since I was a teenager. In the past year or so I took a few psychological turns and decided to take myself/my music more seriously, and have recently been putting a lot more effort into it. 

How are you today right now in the moment you are reading this?

A little antsy but overall I’m doing well, feeling better than I have for the past few days. I woke up about an hour ago, had some coffee and went for a run, now I’m kinda sweaty and having another coffee inside this cafe near my apartment.

You are in an elevator with yourself and you turn and ask yourself who you are.  What do you say?

“I’m a little piece of dust on a big melting rock!”

Once the other you leaves the elevator in walks one of your biggest idols, they turn and ask the same question? What do you say?

“I’m a prolific, determined, loving, bottomless mimosa of creativity that’s currently disguised as a little piece of dust in a big rock. Can I buy you dinner?”

You have a new single out now “How To Love Both of You” that follows up supreme level banger “IKYK” which I told you was immediately engrained in my head permanently upon first listen, all of this is going to culminate in the form of an EP next year.  What is your headspace around this EP, these songs, is there a common thread or mission statement that connect all of them?  Can you pin one adjective to this EP that sums up the point?

The headspace is/was a little messy and I’m currently doing some damage control for myself and others. Short(er) answer is that I had imagined this overly indulgent character that was dating two people pretty intensely while also seeing other people, abusing drugs, kind of just being a selfish and misogynistic maniac. Big surprise, if you’re writing and thinking about that character for a few months, you’ll eventually become that character. The new single is actually the last song on the EP and is somewhat of the resolution. He’s going to “learn how to love both of you”. I think in making these songs I was trying to hit some level of self awareness, maybe just laugh at myself a bit in an effort to become a better person, and not take shit so seriously. I’m not sure if it’s in bad taste to say this after explaining that concept, but I’m really proud of the EP and the reflective trip that it’s taken me on. 

One adjective? Indulgent. 

You seem a bit of renaissance man.  With maybe music at the center but there are all these other equally important limbs extending from it – photography, fashion, acting, host with the most.  Bill being Bill.  For sake of context – can you talk specifically about how NYC has impacted you exploring/cultivating these many creative outlets?

I feel motivated and driven when people around me are doing creative things, and that’s constantly happening here. Sometimes that drive comes in the form of feeling competitive, angry, or maybe even jealous. We talked a little about this other day but I get really turned off by people that are clicky, or that are gatekeeping their art form. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to hang around people who are excited to let you into their creative world, so that’s probably how I’ve picked up these other hobbies. I’m so scared of waking up one day and having no creative drive, exploring other creative avenues feels like a good way to keep myself sharp. 

You engineer/produce all your own stuff? am i assuming correctly?  i know sometimes during that process there can be some out of the box fucking around, experimentation or discovery. can you share one or two little tips/tricks or go-to signature things you like to do/encountered recording wise while making this EP?

Yeah I’m recording and producing everything on my own, either at a friends studio upstate or at my studio in Brooklyn. However, I asked my friend Kevin Muldoon to mix this EP/do additional production and he absolutely did some heavy lifting with these songs. Huge shoutout to Kevin, I love you. 

This might sound silly or simple but while recording this EP, I learned how important it is to act on that first moment of inspiration, or the first moment when the song is coming to you. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that feeling will still be there the next day, and most of the it just isn’t. So striking while the iron is hot was a big one. 

And for the nerds: I was trying out different ways to make the snare really slap, and I landed on putting snare or clap samples under all the snares (standard, I know don’t roast me) but then adding some type of modulation to the samples so that the sound is moving or changing every time the snare hits. I am by no means a gear or production wizard, so this was a game changer for me. 

Sometimes seemingly negative or unfortunate things happen to us that later reveal themselves as the best thing that could have happened.  Can you talk about a time you experienced this phenomenon?

I had an impactful breakup last year that fucked me up for a while. After I went through all the typical heartbreak motions I realized that I wasn’t giving myself the time or energy to create art in the way that I wanted to. That’s not my fault or the other persons fault, I think it’s just a pretty standard side effect of serious relationships. I’ve learned a lot about myself, what I want to do with my life, and I think I’ve done my best writing in this past year. That wouldn’t have happened without a breakup that seemed horrific at first. 

We talked a bit about MF DOOM – can you drop in one of your favorite all-time DOOM lyrics? (And what song is it from?)

I don’t know if this is my favorite but it makes me laugh and it’s what popped into my head so I’ll run with it. It’s a song that he does with Apani B where they just go through the timeline of him meeting and trying to fuck this younger girl. The whole song in particular does a really amazing job of summing up the stereotypes around a rapper meeting a girl. 

Apani: “I’d rather masturbate than fuck with Vik Vaughn”

DOOM: “Let me watch”

The track is “Can I Watch?” by Viktor Vaughn and Apani B

Changing it up and trying new things sometimes is important. I know you recently entered a period of sobriety, can you give a live report on your findings/realizations/positive takeaways from freebasing pure unadulterated reality for some time now?

Yeah I’m glad you asked that because it’s been really helpful for me to hear about other people in my life talk about getting sober. Also disclaimer: it’s all still pretty fresh, and I just now in the past few days have started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I never really had a “problem” with drinking, it’s more of a drug situation, but I figured I should just kick the alcohol out while I’m at it because it certainly doesn’t help. As of right now, I’m really glad that I made the decision to stop. Physically, I’m finding that I actually love to sleep, I’m hungry all the god damn time, and I just have more energy throughout the day. Emotionally, I feel kind of fragile right now but in a good way, pretty vulnerable, raw, and it’s refreshing. I have a calendar date that I’m staying sober until, I’m not sure how I’m gonna feel when that time comes or if I’ll ease back into the sauce. I want to cross that bridge when I get there and just focus on understanding my sober self for a while. 

Do you have a place on earth that is your ultimate goal to get to someday that you have not gotten to yet?

As cliche as it is, I’d like to get to Cape Town. I think I can make it happen, as soon as I land a sync with a car commercial I’ll be on my way. 

If the four corners monument was at the intersection of 4 records instead of states that have formed you musically – what records would they be?

Barbara Mason – ‘Yes I’m Ready’

Michael Jackson – ‘Off the Wall’ (sorry not sorry)

Todd Rundgren – ‘Something/Anything?’

Green Day – ‘Dookie’

As you all know, it’s not the easiest time to be an artist so SUPPORT. Support Bill by listening, streaming, following on instagram. Support all artists mentioned in this article. Support all artists.

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