INTERVIEW: Devin Williams

Hi Devin, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been crazy busy and I couldn’t be happier!  Thanks for having me on your page!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Like a Fire”?

“Like a Fire” is a powerful anthem of how a tiny spark of faith can turn into an unstoppable force.  Christ tells the parable of the tiny mustard seed of how it can blossom into a humongous tree.  We can use that small spark of faith to change our own lives and to inspire and influence those around us to make positive changes, which could eventually change the world!

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I don’t think there was a specific event for this one.   My goal with this song was a push back against the world and myself to remind believers that all it takes is a small spark of faith to change your life.

Any plans to release a video for the single or any additional songs on your new record?

I love creating music videos for my songs as they always add another perspective of the message in each one.  I have a music video currently being finalized for the song “Here for You” and the Italian version “Qui Per Te” that we captured at this incredible mansion in Nashville.

The single is also on your new album Devin Williams with String Quartet – why that name for the album?

I spent quite a bit of time tossing ideas around for the new string project and my team and I did not want it to sound cliché or have a gimmicky name.  We went with the formal naming “Devin Williams with String Quartet” so that it would show the project has a strong focus on classical music while still having the rock/pop feel.  During the mixing process, I had the engineer turn my acoustic guitar and vocals down so more of the strings could be heard.  I love the tones and textures of the small string ensemble, which is usually overlooked in a large orchestra.

How was the recording and writing process different for this project?

This album was quite a different process than what we’ve done for previous recordings.   We spent a lot of time arranging the music and deciding which instrument would play which part.   Such as assigning the low crunchy guitar grooves to the cello or viola, and the high wailing guitar solos to violin 1 and 2. We also spent a lot of time translating “Here For You” into Italian.  I worked with several friends in Sicily and Italy to make sure that the words and metaphors were understandable and that my pronunciation was correct.

What was it like to work with Brad Blackwood and how did that relationship develop?

I’ve actually had the opportunity to work with Brad on several of my previous projects and he is a music mastering genius!  The very first project he worked on he asked me what I wanted it to sound like as far as the overall ‘tone’ of the album. I told him I wanted it to remind me of some of the early 90’s bands with dark drum undertones and raw guitar riffs.  He sent me back the mastered tracks and he nailed the sound on his first attempt!

How much did he get to influence the album?

Mastering guys like Brad are the last humans to touch the project before being sent out to the world.  When I send my music to Brad, we say, “let him do his thing.”  He always makes the recording sound amazing and gives it that extra shine!

As you keep gaining more success – does that put any pressure on you as you release new material?

Yes, there is a little more pressure, because it takes a lot of time and money to write and record.  Over the last few years I have released something new each year.  I plan on releasing a brand new rock record next year and this time its got to be bigger and better than anything I’ve ever done before…not much pressure, at all.

What made you want to take a classical approach?

I’ve always loved classical music.  I studied music in college and attended many concerts, mostly rock, but also classical and jazz.  A couple of years ago I was playing an acoustic show and my guitar player shows up with a cello.  He said it might be cool to try a couple of songs with the cello.  We sat down and played a couple of songs and I was blown away.  I had never heard my songs with the rich warm tone of a solo cello like that before.  I had played around with synth strings and keyboard patches in the studio, but this was something completely different.  I talked with my band mate and we felt the best approach would be to record a few songs with a string quartet and see what it would sound like.  A couple years later we charted the songs and hit the studio.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else or writing in another language rather than in your own?

One thing I found to be a little difficult was the fact that our American metaphors usually do not translate in other languages!  I typically like to write songs alone because they are so personal to me.  I found the process of collaborating with a friend to translate the songs was a pleasure, because the person I was working with was so easy going and kind.

What aspect of your faith did you get to explore on this record?

Hope and trust.   This project was one that I wasn’t sure I would ever get to complete.  There isn’t a specific radio format that the music fits in and how am I going to market this.  I had hope that I could make the project and now I have to trust that God will do something amazing with the recording.   I believe that people are going to enjoy the music, but more than that I hope they find encouragement and strength.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I try to read a few books and listen to as many different bands and artists out there to inspire new ideas and ways of telling a story.  To kick off the writing process, I usually lock myself in a room with a couple guitars, my amplifier, 10 books, a stack of CDs/LPs/8tracks, the bible, and a keyboard just in case I get bored.  A couple of years ago I picked up an encyclopedia and read the entire book for the letter G.  It didn’t help me write any specific song, but I know a lot more about Gutenberg’s printing press!

Any plans to hit the road?

My plan is to do a six-week tour through Europe with the string ensemble with several stops in Italy to perform our Italian version of the song Here For You (Qui Per Te) and also to celebrate my dual citizenship of Italy!  I’d love to plan a tour through the US with high schools, university, and conservatories that would be interested in performing these new classical infused rock songs with me.  The arrangements are already written and ready to be played!

What else is happening next in Devin Williams’ world?

August 2018 was probably the craziest month of my entire life.  I sold my house, purchased a new one, released a song to radio, recorded a music video, released a brand new CD, had 4 concerts in one week, and to top it off I worked overtime everyday at my day job!

I’m super excited about the future and getting back out on the road.  I’m currently writing new songs and planning on getting into the studio in a few months to begin recording the next rock project.  I can’t wait to release some new music!

Devin Williams with String Quartet is now available on iTunesApple MusicSpotifyGoogle Play and Amazon.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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