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By on April 25, 2021 in Arts with 0 Comments
Wylee Williams: An adrenaline rush. Photo by Mike Irwin

Putting it all together, this singer-songwriter finds clear direction after a career change and a move to Chelan

By Susan Lagsdin

Wylee Williams, a singer, guitarist and songwriter newly residing in Chelan, is fearless about full disclosure of his checkered musical past.

When he was a kid, the drive to school in Monroe from home in Skykomish took 50 minutes, he said, “So there were some pretty amazing times in the car — loud music with me and the whole family singing at the top of our lungs.” He honed his voice belting out Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey.

And the guitar playing? “I never really had a lesson. I taught myself from YouTube videos. Then my friend needed a guitarist for his band, so I just started playing…”

Now 29, he’s also fearless about aiming his whole life toward producing his original songs. His first music video, February, a hopeful lament for a summer love, came out in early April. 

The music was engineered by Wylee from start to finish in his home studio here, and the video was filmed by friends in a Sultan meadow.

The whole package (available online) has an acoustic version, a performance version and a lyrical version, plus a how-I-made-it tutorial. And, to the untrained but picky ear of this interviewer, the song sounds damn good. 

Fearless is an ironic descriptor for this musician, considering Wylee’s past profession. 

After dabbling as a teen in car racing at the Evergreen Speedway, at 18 he joined his dad to become the daring duo of “Mr. Dizzy and Dizzy Junior” in exhibition stunt driving that involved, for instance, leaping a car (or a bus, or a limousine) off a ramp up to 120 feet over the tops of a row of dispensable cars (or boats). Not a sport for sissies.

Booked at racetracks and fairgrounds around the U.S.A, as well as Canada and Costa Rica, they’d show up with their portable ramps and a pod containing a roll cage, a five-point harness and fire suits; the venue provided all the disposables as well as the driving cars. Discovery Channel featured the team and film crews followed them for 16 episodes of the History Channel’s American Daredevils.

But Wylee’s stunt career ended in 2019 with a now-healed back injury. 

How did that happen? Falling 20 feet while hiking at Eagle Falls; bad luck, but the timing was perfect. He moved from Everett to help build the family compound in Union Valley last year. 

In this peaceful setting northeast of town, with physical labor and without the stress and bad habits he’d accumulated, his health improved, he lost weight, and he started making the music that he loves.

“I’d been trying to produce music for 10 years,” Wylee said. “It didn’t come easily – I spent countless hours practicing, learning… messing around with my own songs.” 

For a long time he didn’t consider himself a singer, so he just played guitar, started and ended a few bands, and kept on with his songwriting, amassing about 500 songs (“Lots of starts,” he said) that he can go back and re-tool if he wants to. 

He wrote down lyrics only, with no musical notation. “It doesn’t matter — I can always hear the tune in my head when I read it again.” 

When he’s composing, he plays a chord on the piano, lets others follow organically, then records them on the computer and re-listens. It’s then that a word or phrase might slip into his mind unbidden, and he follows that into a kind of poetry that becomes a song.

What Wylee brings to his resolved career in music is not just a personal songwriting strategy, a sense of rhythm and a clear voice, but an up-to-date knowledge of the industry. The electronic equipment he’s acquired allows him to add orchestral elements, mix, master and record on his own, working in his home’s fully-equipped sound studio.

And his strategy in marketing his music is quite different from that of the ’80’s groups he grew up emulating. “You don’t start out in bars and clubs anymore, waiting to be heard by an agent,“ Wylee said. 

He explained that it’s essential to have a recognizable genre (he’s alt-pop), use all the online platforms, have a website and merchandise, and slowly put a few tunes out in the ethers to gradually build a loyal fan base. “Then when you play a club, people come from all over to hear you because you’ve already created some buzz.” 

He plans to issue one original single every four weeks until he’s ready to release an album, then he can offer CDs and even vinyl. 

After that he’ll likely find a way into your favorite north central Washington bistro, bar or winery. No covers, all original Wylee Williams music that’s been waiting years to be heard.

“Playing and singing solo is new — it gives me an adrenaline rush, kind of like stunt driving.” 

Wylee amended that. “Well, with the stunts, you knew you might die. But with singing, you’re digging down deep inside yourself and you’re really vulnerable.”

He’ll be OK with that. Remember, this guy is fearless.

You can hear Wylee’s song February on these music sites: Spotify, Patreon, YouTube, Apple Music, Google Play and Amazon. 

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