Willis Earl Beal
I’ve had a few surreal music-related experiences in my life, the kind of moments when you stop and suddenly think ‘this is happening to me???’ but typically they consist of being tweeted by b-list indie celebrities (Huw Stephens tweeted the word ‘exactly’ to me!!!) with the only exceptions being when Marina Diamandis wrote back to me in letter, and what I’m about to describe.
The NME’s recent single of the week was by a new young singer named Willis Earl Beal, signed to XL (for the non music-geeks among you, it is the independent British record label, responsible for Adele, the Prodigy, Friendly Fires, Tyler the Creator, the White Stripes, and everything in between) His music is powerfully soulful in a way that hasn’t been created for years, and not without reason; he arrived at his current home-town with no money, and ended up homeless, sleeping rough. He’d turn to music for comfort, singing himself to sleep, and when he got a job as a motel night-porter he spent every free minute teaching himself to make music. This passion resonates through his songs (which are also marvelously written; his lyrics could easily be mistaken for those from an iconic 60s maverick singer who you happen to have not heard of) such as ‘Wavering Lines’ and ‘Evening’s Kiss,’ which was the aforementioned single.
Anyway, back to the story; I listened to the track, and I saw that the article quoted the original promo, in which he’d written his phone number. And for some reason I thought I’d just phone the number, expecting to get some kind of press-prepared pristeenly cool lo-fi track played to me through the phone.
Willis picked up the phone.
It was a little difficult to know what to say, I told him how amazing his song was, and he was as honest, sweet and enthralling over the phone as he is through my speakers. He told me how surreal this is for him, and said “well thank you sir” in response to my praise. He left me practically speechless, which of course isn’t ideal when you’re having a phone conversation, hence how brief it was.
This man is enthralling, and Willis if you ever read this I’d like repeat: I wish you the best luck on Earth for your career. And I also suggest you change your mobile number, this is gonna start happening a hell of a lot.