Will Geary, who goes by the name Hi Will is a bass and dubstep producer from Port Jervis, New York, who recently moved out to Colorado. He’s been hard at work releasing an 11 track ep titled Inverted, along with three singles in 2020. 2021 has the potential to be a break out year for the Colorado producer who just released a brand new banger called Stankface featuring Filth Collins.
The Daily Frequency caught up with Hi Will to discuss how he started making music, DJ’ing, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full interview below!
You made the big jump from New York to Colorado. What has that experience been like?
Moving to Colorado has been a dream of mine since before I could remember. I started skiing when I was four and snowboarding when I was 14 and never experienced a pow day until I moved here. It was a super easy transition for me. A ton of my friends from college also moved here around when I did so I was never really got lonely, and I had a job, and everything lined up before I got here.
How did you get into making music? Has it been something that’s always been apart of your life, or is it something you got into as you got older?
It took me a few starts. My great-grandpa was a pretty famous drummer back in the day, so I really wanted to play drums in school but was assigned trumpet, so I never really took it too seriously and quit band in middle school. I was into punk rock, so I picked up a guitar but again didn’t really make it too far. I grew out of punk music and started listening to hip hop in 9th grade. My first attempt at college didn’t go well, so when I withdrew after a couple weeks, I wanted to start making beats in garage band but was quickly discouraged. This was in 2008, so there weren’t as many resources as there are now to teach yourself. Fast forward to Sumer 2012, I was really into house and dubstep and went to my first music festival, Camp Bisco XI. This was the summer that EDM trap was first starting to emerge. When Skrillex dropped Wild for the night (going in) edit, it was the first time I heard EDM trap music, and it all kind of clicked for me that it was something I wanted to make myself. I blew my entire refund check on a MacBook when I went back to school that fall, got a bootleg version of Ableton, and dove in.
What challenges did you face as a new producer?
I had a bumpy start. I was kind of stubborn and could’ve saved a lot of time if I had a better process back then. A lot of frustrating hours spent in Ableton learning by trial and error. My one friend that was also producing at the time was also anti samples, anti preset, etc., and pushed me towards trying to make everything myself. Then my releases weren’t getting any attention, so I stopped putting music out, and would just fall in and out of Ableton for a couple of years.
When did you decide that music was something you really wanted to pursue?
I was done with school, living in western NY, and facing a mountain of student loans. I was pursuing being a financial advisor, and the message there was you need to focus 100% on building your business if you want to be successful. I really wasn’t happy and would work all day and come home and produce all night. I don’t know who I was trying to prove wrong, but it was actually pretty motivating for making music, but I was lying to everyone. Lying to prospective clients, trying to act like I was someone I wasn’t so they would trust me to manage their money. Lying to my manager that I was 100% committed to being a financial advisor and lying to myself that I was putting enough effort into producing. I did that for a few years and was finally on my feet enough to fulfill a lifelong dream of moving to Colorado.
Would you say the move to Colorado helped you creatively?
Colorado is a lot more chill than western NY professionally. You can be yourself a lot more at an office job, and its not uncommon to have a career without giving up your interests. When I first moved, I wasn’t sure if I’d have to take a drug test for my new job or not, so the first time I smoked weed in a couple of months, I got awkwardly stoned and came home and wrote probably my darkest song, Terminated. I still had no real idea what I wanted out of producing, but I had years of projects starting to stack up.
Have the restrictions with covid allowed you to focus on your craft?
I can thank the pandemic for giving me a lot of free time alone to get my shit together. I put together a tracklist for Inverted and then wiped my computer’s hard drive. I’ve learned a lot and have been really focusing on my mixing and mastering skills to get an industry-standard sounding product and get my workflow a lot faster where I’m not spending months or years on songs. I’m about to graduate from the AMP program with KMG in Denver, which has helped a lot.
What’s your creative process? Walk us through an average day at the studio.
I still don’t have a one-off creative process to start. It’s usually trying to learn something new, or making a drum loop, or chord progression, or wanting to sample something or make a “type beat”. Once I get excited about the direction of a project, I try to not put it down until I sketch something out that I can finish, or at least bounce a snippet from and listen to and decide if its something I want to put more time in on or start something new. A good practice if you get stuck or aren’t feeling very creative is to try to learn something new. Usually, if I try to make a new sound or something, I get inspired for a song by the time I’m done with the tutorial.
You released a lot of music in 2020, including an 11 track ep and three singles. How do you find inspiration day in and day out?
Like I said before, Inverted is basically all my more amateur sounding stuff that I liked enough to put out, and is basically 7 years of work. The three singles I put out this year were basically sketched out, pulling an all-nighter when the inspiration struck.
Your sound seems to be heavily influenced by hip-hop. Who are your favorite rappers at the moment?
Favorite rappers seem to come and go, but Futures has been a favorite for a while, I listened to a lot of da baby and Lil baby last year.
Who are your influences in electronic music?
My biggest influences would have to be early RL Grime, Flosstradamus and Skrillex, pretty lights, and basshead era Bassnectar. Dillon Francis is also a huge influence of mine. I like how he was able to blow up without being confined to a genre, which is the producer id like to be, with some high-energy bangers for playing shows and less aggressive songs that are more universally enjoyable.
Aside from hip-hop and electronic music, what other genres do you resonate with and draw inspiration from?
I listen to a ton of different music. As far as inspiration goes, id have to say I usually get inspired by indie tracks. Video Game by Sufjan Stevens is a good example. I should drop a remix to that, actually, haha.
You spend a lot of your free time outside. Do you believe taking time out of the studio to hike or snowboard benefits your creative process?
It’s always good to take a break, but if anything, it’s detrimental to producing. Snowboarding is probably my #1 distraction, and I feel bad about using my limited free time, not in the studio.
You play vinyl when you DJ. Do you believe that’s becoming a lost art?
I came across an offer I couldn’t refuse when I bought my vinyl set up. It still runs through Serato. It’s just timecoded vinyls. I really like the vinyl set up because, with the spinning records, you actually feel the music moving underneath your fingers. Plus, if you can spin and beat match on technics, you can pretty much use anything. Personally, I’m not a big fan of turntablism. A few tricks in a DJ set can take it up a notch, but other than that, it’s just not a sound I think is desirable. As far as straight vinyl djing, it seems like more of a novelty. Someone can do a lot more with a controller these days, and being limited to the tracks you have on actual records seems like it just limits the DJ for no good reason.
Do you listen to any music on vinyl?
I got my girlfriend an Odesza vinyl for Christmas, and it sounded amazing. I think id like to start an actual vinyl collection and buy some of my favorites. Two that come to mind would be Anderson Paaks Malibu and Post Malones Stoney.
What’s the last show you saw, and who are you most excited to see when live music comes back?
The last show I saw was NGHTMRE at the Amplitude drive-in. It was pretty sick! I don’t really have any tickets for anything coming up, but I just pray we get red rocks back this summer.
You just released your new single featuring Filth Collins; what should fans expect from you as the year goes on?
I have a ton of projects I’m working on. Stankface is my first track with original vocals, and Filth and I work pretty well together, so we’ll be releasing a lot more high energy tracks this year. I have some more melodic tunes coming out with my homie Astro Piano that we just have to wrap up and some hip hop joints. I pretty much have a hip hop instrumental tape I want to drop as well. I have a remix dropping for Subbspaced next month and a few other remixes I might put out on Soundcloud. Most of my fans know me from Inverted, so anyone whose been following me will notice that I stepped my game up and will just keep getting better. So this year, I’m holding myself to a higher standard, a lot of collabs, and just bigger and better records. I hope to play out in Denver a good amount this year, too, if we can get past covid. I’ll be putting out a mix with all originals at some point this year.