An Interview With Singer-Songwriter MICAH WILLIS On New Music, His Upcoming Tour and More!
Micah Willis has been playing music for as long as he can remember – which should come as no surprise. Because, Willis possesses talent that can only spawn from years of dedicated practice.
The dynamic singer, songwriter, musician, and actor recently released his newest single, “Don’t Tell.”
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Willis began by playing harmonic with his dad, Kenny Neal, a professional blues musician. At eight years old, he became part of a children’s choir, which allowed him to experience performing in front of an audience. Shortly thereafter, Willis joined an after-school music program, for which he performed at venues across the country, including Carnegie Hall.
Now splitting his time between Salt Lake City and L.A., Willis has grown into a highly respected singer, songwriter, musician and actor. Winning four Downbeat Magazine awards before graduating high school. Willis has worked and played with the likes of Neon Trees, James Valentine (Maroon 5), Steve Smith (Journey), and Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band). He’s also appeared on the hit Disney TV show, Andi Mack.
Influenced by everyone from Miguel and The Weeknd to Fleetwood Mac, Micah seamlessly blends elements of pop, funk, and hip-hop into his high-energy, crowd-pleasing performances.
Written with The Voice contestant, Ryan Innes, and produced by Nate Pyfer (Kaskade, Sego, The Moth & The Flame), “Don’t Tell” ” is about being in a relationship, while not telling everyone that you are in one.
CONNECT WITH MICAH ONLINE HERE:
INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // TWITTER
Learn more about Micah Willis in the following All Access interview:
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you have scheduled the rest of today and this week?
I feel like us musicians never have a typical day. Some days I will get home at 2 or 3 in the morning after doing a gig and have to be up at 6:30 to catch a flight for the next gig. Other days, I’ll be in writing sessions or studio sessions trying to be as creative as possible; trying to put out my best music. For example, this week is filled with sessions everyday before I leave for a gig in San Francisco on Saturday. Next week it is the complete opposite. A gig 5 out of the 7 days which only leaves me two days to go into the studio. But no matter where I am, I am always willing to let myself be creative. Ideas can come up at the most random times. So if I am at dinner with friends and I get an idea, I’ll step out and record something in my Voice Memos. I’ve just learned to take it one day at a time!
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already excited about for 2020?
2019 has been one of the hardest years for me, as well as the most rewarding. It started off really high, went extremely low, and now it’s high again. I am so so so grateful for all the lows this year. So much music has come out of it that I can’t wait to share with everyone. It’s a little scary though, because it’s probably the most honest I’ve been. In 2019 I wanted to release more music and perform more as well, which I have been able to do. I am super stoked for next year though! So much music as well as a tour are in the works.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be in this industry? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Growing up, music was pretty much the only thing I was interested in. While other kids were into sports or video games, I was in my room singing or writing songs. When I was about 5, I would make recordings on cassettes. When I was in second grade, I wrote my first song. I don’t think I every consciously made a decision that I was going to do music; it was kind of always a no brainer!
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I feel like at some point in life everyone has had a “what if” moment. I’ve definitely thought, “what if I didn’t go into music? What would I be doing?” I have always had an interest in the medical field. Whether it be a nurse or doctor, I feel like that would be a really rewarding career. Only problem is my attention span is so small, and I’m constantly thinking of so many things and ideas, I probably wouldn’t be able to last 15 minutes in medical school if I was even able to get in! I think I would be fulfilled to an extent, but not as much as what I’m doing now.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
Honestly, the biggest surprise so far has been that you don’t need a huge, fancy, million dollar studio to come out with good music. I’ve been in those studios as well as peoples basements with a laptop and a midi controller; and honestly there isn’t much of a difference. I really like how Charlie Puth has been open about this as well. He’s talked about how he’s recorded hit songs in his closet. This was hard for me to learn. When I was a teenager, I saved money for about a year and put it towards getting to record at this studio that looked incredible. And unfortunately, the songs didn’t come out how I wanted them to. I’m really glad I learned this early on. Don’t get me wrong, those beautiful big studios can be amazing, but just make sure you have a really good producer and engineer who knows what they are doing before you decide to book time in those types of places.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Don’t Tell.” Where did the inspiration for this track come from? What was it like working on it with The Voice contestant Ryan Innes? How does it compare to anything else you that have you previously released?
I’ve known Ryan for a few years now. But it wasn’t until last year that we started making music together. I’ve always believed that collaborations are where the magic is made. I’ve always loved his work and I thought we could create something pretty cool. We started from scratch. We began talking about life and relationships. He mentioned that it seems like nowadays some people just want a relationship so they can brag about it on social media, instead of having a relationship for the reason you’re supposed to have one. Then it just clicked. That’s what we decided to write the song about. “Don’t Tell” is a lot more unique than my other releases. It’s one of those songs where you can’t quite tell what genre it fits in, which I really like.
Do you have plans to release more songs and/or a full collection of new music?
Yes!!! I have a new single coming out very soon! I’ve been in the studio working on a full collection of music that I am really proud of. It is very personal and I’m not holding anything back. That will be released early next year.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have any fall tour dates scheduled yet?
I will be performing at The Rise in Utah on the 18th of October. I will also be doing some shows around Jackson, WY. , San Francisco, and Maryland. I will be kicking off a tour the beginning of next year! To find out more info on shows, you can find me on Instagram at @officialmicahwillis where I keep everyone updated on shows.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
There are so many ways in which I’ve grown. From signing to writing to performing. Every new song I do, I learn something and grow. Even if it is just a little. That’s why I am constantly creating. That’s why I am constantly trying to learn from people. There is so much value in collaborating with others. It’s a win win for everyone involved.
How do you feel about social media? What has social media done for your career so far?
Social media is such a useful tool for artists. I’ve made so many great connections via social media. It makes it so easy to connect with fans and with other artists! But sometimes, it feels like it can become easy to get obsessed with it. Once someone is only focused on their likes/followers and the clout that they have, it can be extremely damaging. I think it is important to remember why we are using social media, and to make sure it isn’t just to try to feel good about yourself; because that’s when it can become damaging to your mental health.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I fell in love with music at such a young age so there are SO many artists I have looked up to. Fleetwood Mac is timeless. I love Royal Teeth. Of course the early 2000s RnB legends like Ne-Yo and Kelly Rowland have given me so much inspiration. The one artist I would absolutely love to work with is The Weeknd. I’ve been a fan of his since “House Of Balloons.” He’s continuing to put out stuff that is so fresh and so unexpected I love it!
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
When I was like in 7th grade, I was obsessed with Lady Gaga’s music videos. Well I still am! But I remember loving how bizarre all the videos were from “The Fame.” I would definitely bring her on board and come up with something obscure and beautiful with a dash of humor. Maybe one day we will be able to see it!
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
I would love to hear one of my songs covered by Ed Sheeran. That guy can do everything! He is one of my biggest inspirations. It would be super dope to hear him sing one of my songs.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I don’t know if I necessarily need them to take away anything specific from my music. That’s the beauty of it. It varies so much from person to person, that they could take away something meaningful that I didn’t even intend to put in there. You can interpret something a thousand different ways. I love to hear peoples interpretations of my songs. Sometimes it is so different than what you intended to say, but in a good way. It’s a really cool feeling!
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Whoever wants can find me on Instagram at @officialmicahwillis and Twitter at @iammicahwillis! Stay tuned for new music and tour dates! Lot’s of love to everyone who has shown support on my new single, “Don’t Tell!”