Diamond in the rough

Gemfields local Willow is no stranger to the music scene, but his debut studio album will prove a first. PHOTO: Rebecca Jayne.

A GEMFIELDS local is poised to make a big splash on the music scene when he heads to Melbourne to record his first studio album this month.
Musician Willow said he was working in partnership with country music duo Carter and Carter on the album.
“[They’re] Australia’s number one independent country music artists… I’ve known them for years” he said.
“I’ve gone through a mentor program with them. They’ve worked through the songs that I’ve written, and we chose those that are going to sit best on an album.
“It will be approximately eight tracks; if the budget can extend then we’ll take it up to 10.”
Willow said he was eager to jump back into the music scene after a long hiatus.
“I decided early last year that it was time for me to jump back in the music pool,” he said.
“I’ve been out of it for eight years because I’ve been caring for family.”
Willow said he was set to record in March last year but that COVID had caused numerous complications.
“It’s been a 12-month waiting process to get to the point where we are not, but I’m due to record at the end of May,” he said.
Willow said he expects the first single from the album to be released later this year.
“The first song will be released in October. The second song will be in January with the album launch.
“We’re looking at Tamworth; the idea is to play live and link in with established artists.”
Willow said he expects the recording process to be a relatively short one.
“The band will take about… a two-day session in the studio, because that’s what they do, they’re session musos,” he said.
“The hard part will be me singing in a studio setting, being that I have not performed now because of COVID [for some time], so to then go into a studio setting where your vocals have to be really on song, that’s the hardest part.
“The team around me I trust implicitly. They know what they are doing. I’m the x-factor.”
Willow said one song stood at among the others as lending itself to being the lead single from the album.
“It’s not the biggest song on the album, but because of what we’ve done with it and the arrangement it feels like it could be the lead single, and it’s called Out of My Hand,” he said.
“It’s based on the way my attempts at entering the music [industry] over the years and then life happening the way it happens it’s kind of an apt title really that at the age of 52… I’m entering the music scene in a professional sense…. when it’s normally considered a young person’s game.”
Willow said the remainder of the songs on the album also reflected his personal life experiences.
“Probably the biggest song on the album… is called Butterflies; when you listen to it sounds like it’s a love song, a cliché kind of love song,” he said.
“The song was written when I actually had my awakening and my realisation of who I was and where I belonged in the world.
“It took me a long time to sort out my life stuff, but then when I did this song came to me and it’s the most beautiful uplifting song, and I feel it’s my angels, my guides, saying ‘you’re okay, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be’.
“It’s an enlightening, really powerful song, but it’s written from me to me.”
Willow said the album could be classified as country, but with a more contemporary feel.
“I’m not a traditional country singer… I grew up through disco and danced on the dancefloors through the 70s to the 80s, and then there was the 90’s pop,” he said.
“I don’t want to be put in a box. I don’t want to be put in a genre.
“I grew up I the country, I’ve lived in every big city in Australia, I’ve travelled all around… lived with crazy wonderful people who were from all walks of life.
“I’ve just got a broad palette to draw from; it’s an uplifting album and a really nice space to hang out in for a while.”
Willow said his experience of growing up gay in regional Queensland was also reflected in his song writing for the album.
“This song that I’ve called Missed Opportunity touches base on that aspect of still trying to figure out life.
“I always dreamed of being a singer… but I was damaged goods from my childhood, and it took a lot of living and a lot of running away and a lot of doing all kinds of different things…
“You know Freddy Mercury’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’? I like to change the last word to life because that’s how it feels to me.”
Willow said he hoped his success could inspire others.
“In relationship to being openly gay within the country music scene, I hope I can, like what I’ve done out here, by spending time in that genre, break down barriers even more,” he said.
Willow said despite all he had been through; music was a dream he could not give up on.
“It’s the dream that my inner 5-year-old has just held onto and I’ve never ever given up on it,” he said.
“I’ve always known that if I can survive all that childhood stuff, and if I can stay healthy, and if I can just keep swimming… I knew that at some point I would get a break, and this is it.
”It’s persistence; I’ve maintained my health, I take very good care of myself physically, emotionally spiritually, and just keep on giving this crazy little thing called life a go.
“Everyone has their day, and mine is coming. I just believe it. I truly believe it.”