Credit: Abongwe Booi
Instilling the spirit of the phrase “We’re stronger together” into his music, 20-year-old singer and songwriter Will Linley looks forward to making connections through his songs. With the power of technology, Will has built a global community of fans who have enjoyed his relatable and effervescent tunes. It is evident that Will’s efforts are paying off, especially with his debut single “miss me (when you’re gone)” acquiring almost a million streams in the past couple of weeks on Spotify alone! With Will well on his way to becoming the latest pop music sensation, we caught up with him to discuss the new single, growing up in South Africa, his TikTok presence, and more.
Melodic Mag: Hi Will! Needless to say, you are crushing it right now, even though you are so far away in South Africa! What has it been like to get your start over there?
Will Linley: I wouldn’t say crushing it just yet! Haha, but it seriously has been such fun. The response to the song has been overwhelming (in a good way) and I’ve been so struck by the amount of people that are connecting with the lyrics. Stellenbosch (where I’ve been attending Uni) has surprised me so much, hearing the song being played in cars driving next to me, or on the student radio, people seriously seem to be vibing with it, and it’s making me feel super supported and loved.
What are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Cape Town?
Good question! I guess some of my fondest memories would be going to summer evening concerts at the Kirstenbosch Gardens venue (it’s a dream of mine to play there one day), or spending days by the beach, going up the mountain, or just having a braai with my family for Sunday lunch.
TikTok has played a major part in your music career so far – when you joined, did you think things would take off as fast as they have?
NOT A CHANCE! I didn’t even really want to do it, but one of my producers David Balshaw told me to just try it for a month and see. If nothing happened after that then I could stop, but he made me promise to at least give it a go and lo and behold, two weeks later a video of mine started to take off.
Have you made any surprising or unique connections through TikTok so far?
I have received the odd message from people in the music world that I really respect, which has been awesome, but that’s about it. They all kinda go like, “Hey Will, love the song! Keep going,” and those are the best! They give me a little boost each time.
Did you have a fallback in case things didn’t work out?
I have been studying a BCom at Stellenbosch University since 2020. I chose that because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, but when music started working for me, I started giving all my time to that rather than my studies. I have got to the point where I’ve decided to defer my degree for a year, next year, to focus on my music, and then I’ll reassess everything at the end of 2022. So, I guess I kind of do have a “fallback option,” but I’m pretty invested in this music thing right now!
Congratulations on the release of your debut track, “miss me (when you’re gone)”! Instead of writing about missing someone else though, you turn the tables and sing about missing yourself if that person ever leaves. It is such an interesting perspective – when did you know that you wanted to write a song about it?
Thank you! This is an interesting question. I guess there was never this “light-bulb” moment where I knew I wanted to write the song from that perspective. It was a much slower process of dealing with the different emotions at the time. After writing a couple things down and trying a couple lyric ideas, I felt empty and felt I had nothing else I could try. But then, I started thinking about the different aspects of the relationship, and how I felt that something was missing in me when she wasn’t there. As soon as I started thinking from this new perspective, there was no turning back, and the song began to take form.
The music video perfectly captures the vibe of the track – could you tell us more about how it came together?
This music video was bought to life by an amazing and talented guy called Abongwe Booi. For me, I can happily sit down and write a song or play the guitar and perform, but when it comes to trying to create visuals for my music, I really struggle, but that was where he was so good. I had an idea of how I wanted the music video to feel and what I wanted the rough idea to be, but that was it. Abongwe would sit with me for hours asking me questions about everything: What colors do I see? What emotions do I feel? Do I see this taking place in the city or more out in open fields, etc? That was where he was so incredible. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never been able to have a video that portrays the emotions and feelings of the song so well.
When you start working on a track, do you focus first on the lyrics or the way it sounds?
It varies from song to song, but I often have a basic guitar or piano loop that I will write to, and then I can start to build out the track with my producers Bubele Booi and David Balshaw. For me, telling the story is the most important part, so nailing the lyrics before overcomplicating things on the production side is essential. Sometimes things can become “messy,” and so stripping it back to a simple guitar or piano loop is the best way to ensure you get the best lyrics possible.
Who are some of your influences right now, either music related or non-music related?
Some of my biggest influences as writers are JP Saxe, Jon Bellion, and Julia Michaels. For me, they are able to weave such intricate stories into their songs, and that is something I’d love to develop in my own writing. As a performer, I’d have to say Justin Bieber or Matthew Mole. I haven’t seen a lot of artists live, but these two honestly crush it every single time, and I’d love to be able to create the energy these two have when performing. In general life, my family play a major role in the person I am today; they are such intentional, grounded, and wonderful people that I know I can rely on no matter what, and that’s such an incredible thing for me to have.
Is there more music on the way this year or will you be releasing more next year?
THERE’S MORE, THERE’S MORE, THERE’S MORE! I can’t say when more music will come, but keep your eyes peeled and your ears open!
Thank you so much for your time! Do you have any final thoughts or comments?
THANK YOU SO MUCH! I don’t have much to say other than go stream “miss me (when you’re gone)” and maybe even play it for someone you love!