Updated: Apr 30, 2019
Will Web is a legend in his own right. Getting his starts back in Detroit on the mighty Direct Beat imprint, his career has been one that few can dream of. Unique comes to mind when thinking of his music, but innovative and ingenious are two other aspects that are hard to deny when listening to the highly sophisticated songs he is able to create.
With nearly 3 decades of music industry experience, and a sound and career that are ever evolving, Will Web is a leader in the Electro scene that inspires and amazes artists and fans around the world with an uncanny ability to deliver proper Electro beats to the masses without compromise. This month, as we proudly launch this new adventure we call the Electric Kingdom, we are equally proud to get a chance to sit down with this incredible futurist to see what he has been up to and what we can expect in the future from him, his music, and his powerful imprint Zero One Music. Let's get started!
Santino Fernandez : Welcome Will! Thanks for helping Chris and I with the launch of this new magazine by taking some time to chat. Let’s not begin the usual way of talking about how you got started, but rather let me ask: What have you been up to lately musically?
Will Web: First, let me start by thanking you and Chris for making me part of your inaugural issue. I have been pretty busy lately with remixes. I just finished a remix of “Pursuit” by Juno Lazermachine and I am currently working on a remix of a new track called “La Lune” by DJ Mourad; who is a fellow deepspaceradio.com DJ from overseas. I am working on a few collaborations with some of Electro’s finest. I am also trying to get some new solo material out this year, maybe even a full length if I can find some time. In addition to that, I am putting together the weekly radio show Breaking Waves, which airs every Thursday night at 6pm on deepspaceradio.com, and I am DJing the occasional Electro party, now that those seem to be a thing again.
Will Web...the legend! © Michelle Del Rey
That’s great...busy man! Indeed it seems our music has been seeing a revival and it’s nice to be a part of it and seeing it evolve. I also have to say I really enjoyed “Detroit 2 Miami”, you and Di’jital are truly what I would refer to as a Dream Team for Electro Bass music. Can you talk a little about how you and him met perhaps? Was it through Direct Beat I suppose?
I am glad you liked the record, we put a lot of effort into making it, and it has garnered some great feedback. Actually, I think Di’jital and I first met at a store called Record Time. Record Time was one of the main stores for DJ’s to shop at in the Detroit area. I started working there in what was called the “Dance Room” years before I was ever on Direct Beat. The Dance Room was where all the 12” vinyl singles were sold, and where there was a full DJ setup and listening stations. It was one of the only stores in the Detroit area that carried every genre of music, and we had the best selection of import records in the city. It was a “hangout” for every DJ in the city to buy records, keep up on the latest gossip and talk A LOT of shit. That is probably the first place I ever met Di’jital.
A little history, that’s awesome. I really miss those type of stores. Seems every region had its own, and they really were a breeding ground for ideas. So how do you feel about the current scene these days? So many changes since back in the day, in so many ways I guess you could say it has matured a lot, but at the same time some things feel the same...stuck. How do you feel about it? Is vinyl a thought in your mind again?
I think the Electro scene is thriving. It has seemed for the past 4 years that there was a certain momentum, and that has cultivated into a rich and diverse scene. There are so many styles of Electro now (not including “Electro House”, which is not a real thing). It has begun to cross over into new audiences and has found people that are receptive to its funky beats. There was even a best of 2017 article in Resident Advisor where Electro is the highlight of the year. Hopefully this is not the pinnacle of what everyone has worked so hard to create and further, and is just the tipping off point for what could be considered the great resurgence.
I think we all just need to keep doing what we are doing, and plug away little-by-little. It seems to be working (finally 😊), and yes vinyl I think is a big part of finding new listeners of a younger generation and expanding the following. I think I have started my push to get back into the vinyl realm with the Di’jital collaboration record, although I am still a little skittish after what happened back in 2006 with the collapse of all the vinyl distributors. Stay tuned, I think you will be pleasantly surprised in 2018.
I am happy to hear that, I myself feel rather skittish as well, as our label lost big time back then too, but I feel the push also. Also, I agree that for some years now there has been a beautiful momentum as you say, and it felt like our time was coming. Anyway, moving on, let’s talk about all this new gear coming out, what has been catching your attention lately, any new arrivals at your studio?
There has been such a huge influx of new hardware in the past few years, it is hard to keep up. I really like the fact that many companies are producing real analog synths again and the prices have become somewhat reasonable. My last 2 purchases were an Arturia Drumbrute, because I needed a nice analog drum machine with multiple outs (something the Roland boutique drums machines are sorely lacking), and Roland boutique VP-03 Vocoder, because I think out of all the boutique modules the VP-03 is spot-on.
Yeah that VP-03 is an amazing sounding machine, can’t wait to hear you on that one! Alright, for the sake of history, let’s rewind for a bit. Let’s talk about you in Detroit growing up. What is your personal take on the city, and what it offers in terms of hard-life lessons and musical creativity?
Well, looking at the city of Detroit now (at least the downtown area), you would never equate that with a city of hard knocks, but a lot has changed since my days of growing up there. From the late 1960’s all the way until just the past few years, Detroit was a tough place. It was a blue-collar, auto industry driven city with a diverse cultural makeup and a rich history as it relates to music. When things like oil shortages and economic downturns happened in the country, Detroit was hit harder than most other cities. People there lived paycheck to paycheck, and when times got tough they were extremely tough.
The biggest problem Detroit ran into was when the auto industry started to dry up, and the manufacturing plants and jobs moved to places where cars could be built cheaper. I remember people saying that Detroit looked like a post-apocalyptic city with all of its empty skyscrapers and burnt out buildings. But that sci-fi landscape is really what has inspired many artists from Detroit, including myself, to create Techno and Electro music.
"Do it because you love the music...do it because it’s a part of you that you want to share with the world!"
It’s a city with an intriguing and fascinating history for sure. When I was there I could feel and see much of its magic, but could also see the post-apocalyptic landscape you talk about. Just seeing the central train station abandoned like that in the middle of the city gave me goosebumps. Moving forward a little bit, let me ask, how did you wind up signing to Direct Beat?
Unfortunately, the story is not that exciting. I had released my track Indovaccume with Sean Deason on his label Matrix records, and I had more tracks on the DAT. Sean said I should let Mike Banks (UR) hear them. I went down to the old UR building and gave them to Mike, and he said he had the perfect label for them and handed them to the Burden brothers to put out on Direct Beat.
Interesting, so many roads in Detroit lead back to Mad Mike somehow. So perhaps this answer seems obvious, given Detroit’s economic issues, but like New York, Detroiters are bound to the city right down to their soul. What made you decide to move to the Sunshine State of Florida?
Two reasons, the first which is obviously the weather, and the second being it was the second largest US market for my music. Detroit is still my true home, and at some point, I will either move back part-time or permanently. The year I decided to leave was one in which we had a very cold winter, I was getting a little burned out on music in general and was in a relationship that didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. I needed something to change. I went down to Miami for the Winter Music Conference, some friends took us out on a giant sailboat with 20 bikini clad women, and I made up my mind right then that I was moving down to Florida. When I got back home after the conference I packed up and moved down.
Will Web and David Noller...two of Miami's finest producers! © Mikki G Photography
Ah, so the bikinis got you then! Miami does that for some reason. So then for the newcomers out there, the ones who aspire but need to gain wisdom over the industry, what would you say to them? How can an artist make it and remain inspired in an industry plagued by so many issues?
I just have a couple pieces of advice. Don’t make music as a career (at least not Electro 😊). Thinking you are going to somehow make a lot of money at it can be an incredible let down when you don’t. Very few people actually succeed to the level that they can live off a music career. Do it because you love the music. Maybe the money will come and maybe it won’t, but do it because it’s a part of you that you want to share with the world. There is not much of a formal music industry anymore, so the road-maps of the past don’t really apply.
Learn as much as you can about publishing and copywriting, the art of pressing vinyl, music contracts, and create an environment around yourself that is conducive to staying inspired. Always keep an open mind, and keep learning your craft and find a workflow that works best for you. I find my biggest constraint is finding time to actually sit down and concentrate on a project with everything else going on in life. If music is important to you, you will find ways to make the time.
That’s about as best as I could ask for, very mature wisdom right there in your advice. Alright, let’s talk engineering for a second. In Studio, and for a song, what are the more important things to remember to make a good track? So many out there are convinced for example, that compression is key for everything, not to mention limiting. But in truth, these things are greatly abused. How do you feel?
I think the definition of a good track is subjective. There are a lot of records from the 80’s and 90’s that are horribly produced by today’s standards but are great tracks. Using good sounds make for a good track. If you have to over process something to make it sound semi-good maybe you should scrap it and find a better sound. I think a good mix down is key, and then the final mastering plays a big part in the overall finish of a song. As for compression and limiting, they are just tools. Used correctly they can enhance a track, used incorrectly they can destroy it. I use them a lot in production, but not on everything all the time, like some people insist that you should.
I don’t think this is that big of an issue in the Electro and Techno world. I listen to tons of music for the radio show and don’t hear that many problems, and sometimes under production has a charm to it too. It is more of a problem in the mainstream dance world where they compress and limit the dynamics out of everything and sidechain compress the whole track to the kick to get a pumping effect. Your main take away from this long winded answer is: do what you think sounds good to you!
That is it right there for sure, in the end you gotta do what sounds good to you indeed! So before we close, can we expect Zero One Music to return with vinyl releases perhaps?
I am going to try and get more music out this year, and yes vinyl is an option that I am seriously pursuing.
Great news Will, thank you so much for your time! Best of luck with everything going forward!