ULTIMATE PLAYLIST: Willie J Healey
WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER
Having toured with SLAVES and been compared to the likes of Deerhunter, Kurt Vile and Mac DeMarco, Willie J Healey is fast making himself heard. Summarised by a headline tour that started in February this year and is fast selling out, the Oxford native is making his way to YES in Manchester on said tour (20th February to be precise, you keen kids).
His first album People and Their Dogs took months to pull together with the musician overthinking and stop/starting numerous times trying to get the perfect hit. Of course, it was suitably perfect because it had been meticulously fine-tuned and refined by its composer’s skilled mindset. By the time People and Their Dogs came to fruition, his second album was already on the cards. Subconsciously attracted to the phrase ‘666 Kill’ like a reverse exorcism, he constructed an ominous lyrical sketch of his own death at the hands of the devil. This unlikely muse possessed his creativity to the extent that he rushed downstairs to his garage-based studio and single-handedly recorded the vocals and all of the instrumentation in a single session.
“I’m not some kind of devil worshipper or anything like that,” he laughs. “I was trying to touch on different ideas I had: weird things like planes going missing and an obsession with death, which sounds depressing but at the time I found it really interesting. We all have weird little things that run across our minds and we generally don’t say them out loud. For good reason! But it felt like an exciting process to write in that style and not put a filter on it.”
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Having performed with bands in Oxford from a young age, Healey turned to songwriting and developed his skills via open mic nights, acoustic shows and local support gigs. So it all fell into place and, in particular, the tour with SLAVES cemented him on the indie scene and not as ‘just-another-singer-songwriter’ but something with a punk twang that delves into broader topics than romantic emotions. “I try not to be too aware of trends, so I can focus on writing the best song I can regardless of whether I think it will be cool or not.” He notes how the great albums of the ‘70s feel out of time in contrast to the booming drums and slick production that places many ‘80s records firmly within their era. “A timeless classic will never go out of fashion.”
But what tracks are constantly on Healey’s ‘top tracks’ lists, always cemented in his mind and always looked to as a point of inspiration? Look no further than right here. You can see that he doesn’t follow the trends or stick to one genre just by listening in. So, what are you waiting for?
Joe Jackson – Is she really going out with him?
A classic, I can completely relate to young Joe in this track.
Squeeze – Cool For Cats
Another classic. A special british treat that makes my ears smile. Love you squeeze
Happyness – Anna Lisa Calls
I love this song so much. I must have played it 1000s of times, I wish I wrote it. More people need to hear it because it’s sick
The Boom Town Rats – Rat Trap
Bob G at his best. Most savage bass tone dirty dirty boys got the crowds going loopo
The Stranglers – Peaches
Another filthy british classic about oily skin and a love for bums so strong that they wrote a hit about it, good one gizzas.
Neil Young – Walk On
Neil Young’s response to people talking breeze behind his back. Feel ya Neil you beautiful hippy
Childish Gambino – Red Bone
This track is already a classic and it’s only been out for a couple of years.
Grover Washington Jr. – Just The Two of Us
Our old friend Grover WJ making hot sauce with chicken legend Bill Withers. Tears flow down my cheeks Bill, ya got me again. Sing me to sleep GOAT
Supertramp – The Logical Song
A song I’ve always loved. A young man losing his innocence..
Bill Withers – Use Me
Say no more Bill, sometimes it feels good to be used.