Canadian Artist Cole William Gets Real About Vancouver’s Music Scene

The MIX sat down with Canadian artist Cole William to learn more about his musical journey.

Arts & Music City & People

In 2012, Cole William bought a mini-keyboard, just for the hell of it, and started jamming in his university dorm room in Edmonton, Alberta. He quickly discovered a sense of release when producing – it became a focal point into something greater, a diversion from his reality, a type of magic that allowed him to escape the stress of life.

After receiving news that one of his friends passed away, he stepped back to look at the bigger picture. The friend whom William had lost was a person who he’d frequently send his music to, someone who played a major supporting role in his artistic endeavors. “I felt like to a certain degree, I needed to at least give music a shot and a good effort,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do music justice and honour him in a certain way.”

In 2016, William received a phone-call from Kyle McKeachie, his friend and now manager, who has always played a pivotal part in William’s musical journey. McKeachie sent a few audio files that he’d been working on with a talented music producer in Vancouver, British Columbia to William. William was inspired by the music’s quality, given that the songs were produced in a small home studio with minimal equipment. In the summer of 2016, William decided to move back to Vancouver to pursue a career in the music industry. He chose his stage name, which is his first name and middle name, because, he explained, “I don’t want my name to influence what people think about my music. I want to let the music do the talking as opposed to the name.”

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Psychedelies.

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William’s first single, Rituals, debuted on Spotify on December 8, 2018. The song, which entwines alternative R&B and stadium rock, is fused with electronic subtleties – a trio of genres that makes you feel absolutely weightless. However, since recording Rituals, William has evolved as an artist.

Inspired by the sounds and messages drawn from musicians like Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, and Anderson .Paak, William has been experimenting with elements of funk and soul in his new music. He believes in music as a message, multilayered writing, and live performances that include instruments as opposed to singing over MP3 audio files. The energy and musicianship behind a performance intrigues him – a show that can resonate with the audience is one that he holds in high regard.

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Rituals is out on all Streaming platforms now. Link in bio. Written/Produced: Cole William Mixed/Mastered: @ericmoshermusic

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Occasionally, William collaborates with the local indie band, Pork Ruckus, and not only does this collaboration bring about energy and new capacity, but it helps with artistic validation. Working with musicians who have different talents also provides a space for him to learn and better prepare for live gigs. Although, if there’s a certain sound that he hears in a song that he feels a connection to, regardless if it’s at a live show or if he’s listening at home alone, his creative juices start to twirl. “There’s this feeling that I get,” he started to explain. “When I feel it, I think to myself, ‘maybe I want to write a song that feels like this.’ Sometimes it’s great to have a song completely written and then taken to a studio for production.  Other times, the production comes first and you get the inspiration from the production.”

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Seconds mistaken for lifetimes

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As Vancouver is a city with strong musical roots in the rock and indie scene, pursuing a career in hip hop and R&B can be tricky to navigate. Despite this, William thinks there’s a lot growing underneath the city’s surface thanks to new, up-and-coming artists who are shedding light on Vancouver’s R&B culture.

“It’s bubbling and it’s going to make a breakthrough,” he said. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of support for this genre, but to nurture Vancouver’s R&B scene, William believes that actively attending shows and paying for tickets could make a huge difference for local artists as well as venues.

In the near future, William will be putting out a music video for Rituals and releasing two more singles as well as an 8-10 song EP. “Each single will have its own different energy,” McKeachie chimed in. “Releasing these singles is how we plan to introduce people to Cole William and the different ranges that he has, the dynamics that he offers, and the spectrums that we can hit.”

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It takes a certain kind of human to turn an artistic hobby into a full-time career. Within the music industry, success isn’t just defined by the type of work that you create; it’s the passion, dedication, and level of want that fuels it. It takes a certain kind of feel to be a musician. William has that feel. Over the course of the last six years, he’s learned that the obstacle to figuring what you love eventually becomes the way. With practice and passion, little things turn into the big things that you need them to be, and the more you push for opportunities, the more opportunities will come back. William discovered the little box of creativity in his soul and now more than ever, is ready to share it with you.