Willa is the definition of a kick-ass female pop artist. With her polished writing, fun catchy hooks, and empowering message for her listeners she write music for the strong independent person in us all. Her previous release, Criminals and Dreamers accumulated nearly 11 million streams and there is no doubt in my mind that her new music will make a splash. This gem out of Toronto, Canada is one of my personal favorites and I recommend you take a listen.
Unheard Gems: Welcome to Unheard Gems! So excited to get the chance to talk with you about your music!
Willa: Excited to chat, thanks for having me :)
Unheard Gems: Just for our readers to get a little bit of background on you, when did you first know you wanted to pursue music and what was your journey like?
Willa: Well, I was always singing around the house growing up and was constantly listening to music, always asking my parents to have music playing... It wasn't until I auditioned for the local children's choir in Whistler at 9 years that singing became a concrete part of my life. Writing music and playing piano became a reality for me when I was an early teen... Never stopped since then;)
Unheard Gems: Just for fun, could you make an acronym out of your name with words that describe you as an artist?
W - Witty
I - Intuitive
L - Lionhearted
L - Lazy / Loveable
A - Abnormal
Unheard Gems: I have to say, I was so excited when your song “Cause You Did” came out. I have loved your music for a bit so to see you come back after two years with this incredible song was amazing. What can you tell us about this song and how did you choose it to be your first single back?
Willa: THANK YOU, that means so much to read! Cause You Did means so much to me to share because it came from a deeply truthful place for me. It was the first time I wrote about and explored my feelings in the couple years after my first big heartbreak... The first cut really is the deepest! I never really accepted how much it actually hurt me and affected my ability to have future connection. It felt like the right return for the lead single because the songs following are part of the growth of the feeling Cause You Did describes.
Unheard Gems: The music video is also really incredible. Where did the idea for the video come from and what was the actual process of filming it like?
Willa: The video aesthetic started with a collection of photos I gathered for inspiration. I saved photos that made me think of the colours of the song... Pinks, whites, etc were important. The song is also hinting at things unsaid (how hurt one truly is), so the projections at the end of the video helped communicate that ("I'm not fine").
Unheard Gems: What about other new music from you? What can we expect from new music and is there anything you really think listeners should listen to or think about in your upcoming music?
Willa: New music is coming very soon! The new music continues the theme of examining my connection to connection itself.
Unheard Gems: Just something I find really cool about your story as an artist is that you have synesthesia (a cross-sensory condition which allows those who have it to experience things with more than one sense). We have had one other artist on Unheard Gems who has had synesthesia and it was really interesting to hear how she interpreted music and colors. What about you? How much do you think hearing music in color affects how you create music?
Willa: That's rad!! I'd be really curious to learn more about her experience with it. My uncle also had synesthesia, but his was different from mine. For him, if he heard a song and it had NO colour or was just black, that meant he didn't like the song. For me, every song has a colour palette and when there's black in it, that doesn't mean I don't like it... It's just part of it's overall palette. When writing to a track that a producer is creating, I do find the colours of the track affect a lyrical direction for me.
Unheard Gems: I love this question because it is great at expanding who I listen to. If you could recommend to us one emerging artist or Unheard Gem that you think deserves more recognition in the music industry right now, who would you recommend and why?
Willa: I really love Diana Gordon. She's had a lot of success as a writer for others in the music industry, Beyonce being a big name she's written for. She released an EP called Pure in 2018 and I think it's perfect. It fuses genres and is so lyrically authentic and interesting. I love it.
Unheard Gems: Lastly, for all of our readers, where can they find you and your music and is there anything else you want to leave us with that we didn’t talk about in our questions?
Willa: I want to say THANK YOU! I'm really grateful for the support and questions and EVERYTHING <3. I'm easy to find on all streaming services under Willa. Instagram and Twitter at @willamilner. I'm at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sheisWILLA/. xoxoxox
Interview by Hannah Schneider