• Neelu Mohaghegh

Exclusive Interview with William Hinson: Learning More About the Man

Updated: Apr 14

I had the pleasure of interviewing up and coming artist William Hinson while he was on a Sofar Sounds tour, and I will say that our conversation will definitely remain one of my favorite sit downs with an artist to date. (It was also my first in-person interview since the pandemic!)

William is a man of many talents, a natural comedian, a kind and thoughtful person, a prolific writer, and a talented musician. I first saw William enter the spotlight in this old hot dog diner in Worcester, MA (Yes, the venue was a cool, vintage hot dog spot called George’s Coney Island Hot Dogs. Yes, not in New York). When he played his first song and then followed it with his hilarious stage banter, I knew I was immediately a fan. The music that William puts out is authentic and vulnerable. He wears his heart on his sleeve and speaks with no filter, and though it’s all in good spirits, there’s a bit of melodrama in his lyrics and a realness in his voice that brings up the reality of our emotions all too clearly. Based off personal stories and experiences, the young man, who recently turned 26, has created truly standout tracks that give glimpses of him through mini episodes of harmonies and guitar riffs. In each song, we can hear the conversations the artist has had with himself as he puts them into sonic pieces of art.


Through varying genres, we are introduced to the diverse facets of William’s mind. I think the wide range in his sound and the wittiness and relatability of his narratives make his music stick harder in the forefront of our minds. Some are quirky, some are serious, some are sweet, some are melancholy, some are folk, some are pop, and some are retro. His music, however, has many personalities and many sounds. They make his songs catchier and they make the listening experience more dynamic as they represent the many hues and shades of emotions and feelings. It’s as if we’ve time traveled and can connect the dots of different eras of musical influences behind his music. There’s a crisp satiric nature to his voice as he intertwines them with these lush, playful pop instrumentations, concocting a recipe all uniquely his own. I guess that’s what really made me a fan—a bit of curiosity and intrigue for the young man behind the music that has so much more in his sound.

William released his album Everything Will Be Ok back in 2020, and the project will remind you of the UK pop-rock band, The 1975. With his melancholy undertones disguised by euphoric ballads and melodies, he’ll whisk you away into the sonic wonderland he has designed. Personally, I think that holds true for most of his work. Every time, I hear something new, and that’s what keeps luring me back to listen to his songs—to hear what he will magically fabricate once again.

Be sure to listen to his album Everything Will Be Ok.


Here is our Interview:


Neelu Mohaghegh:

Ok. So, easy first question: tell me a little bit about more how you started in music and how you got to where you are today?


William Hinson:

Um, well, I started a couple weeks ago…


Neelu Mohaghegh:

Solid. You're doing great so far, just a couple of weeks, my god!


William Hinson:

Haha. No, yeah…My name is William. I'm from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and I started playing when I was eight. I started writing bad songs in the sixth grade, and then I think I wrote a good one in seventh grade, and then I went to school for audio engineering/production, and I’ve been doing this full time professionally since I was in college, but I've never worked another job. So, that's awesome. Very, very blessed about that.

*Jokingly says in a Southern accent*

Very blessed. You know, we were blessed to be doing that.


I’ve just been touring, before the pandemic, and I was on a good sort of jaunt, you know, where I started basically touring full time at the end of 2018. Then I really got into it—halfway through 2019 it was just two weeks on, two weeks off. Three weeks on, one week off, you know? It was funny because I really got into the groove of that, and then everything stopped. But then we had to shift our focus to online marketing, which was fine, that's what it is, but I'm happy to be out.

Neelu Mohaghegh:

Yes, for sure. I think we all are happy that live music is back. Nothing's like it. So, what was that pivotal moment that you kind of just knew, ‘Alright, I want to make a career out of this. I want to be doing this for the rest of my life. I want to be an artist.’

William:

Yeah, I mean, it sounds super cliche, but when I was in the second grade, because my uncle is a musician, and he lived in Nashville as a songwriter for a long time, you know, wrote songs with some some cool people, then my whole life, I knew not how to do it, but just that that was a thing you could do, and that your parents don't want you to do. Which is fine. I understand that. I especially understand that now. But my parents have always been really supportive too.

The cliche is that I'm a big Beatles fan, and I just remember watching videos of them on Ed Sullivan, on Google videos, before YouTube...people forget about Google Video! That was a thing. We don't talk about it nearly enough. It was like an image search--Like it is today, but it was a video.


Neelu:

I do remember! That is a blast to the past.


William:

It is a deep-seeded memory. That's a core memory.



Neelu:

Right! Everyone talks about AIM. But no one talks about Google.


[We interrupt this article to tell you all to remember Google Videos]


William:

Exactly. Nobody talks about Google videos. We've forgotten. We used to be a real country! Anyways… haha. I just remember watching that and getting really, really into the whole concept. I have two older sisters, and my older sisters had a habit of dating musicians as well. They were so freaking cool. That was also part of it. I see these videos, and these are super cool. See these guys, they’re super cool. It's the thing I've always wanted to do. There's never really been anything else. The moment when I was like, ‘Well, you know, I think I could probably just give it a go’ is when I was a senior in college, I was producing music and putting it out, like three EPs over a year, it was great, really nice studio at school, the perks of being a college student for and it started generating some stuff on Spotify. My dad was just like, 'wow'. My dad is also a radiation physicist, so he's very analytical.


Neelu:

Very data driven.


William:

Yeah, very. Yeah, that's a great way to describe it. Yeah, just very black and white about things. Which is a great thing because nobody can really conceptualize and no one was using numbers to really determine growth, but now it's the only thing you got to do. Both my parents were like, 'you know, you just got to give it a go while you can.' You know, while you're on the wave, before you're ugly with wrinkles and 85. To go to a "The Office" reference, Dwight inspired me by saying, "Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, "Would an idiot do that?" And if they would, I do not do that thing"

Neelu:

What are some of the motions that you move through when you write a song and kind of the motivations behind them?


William:

Songwriting has become a lot more compartmentalized for me over the last COVID period of time. I can't wait 'till we start saying that. It’s always just been a reflex, songwriting. In college, I really started to embrace it, because I was doing so much production there, it became sort of like recognizing the discrepancy between writing a song...as it is...then taking it into the studio and making it into the studio version of the song. So then the world started to open up a bit. I wrote this on the same acoustic guitar, but this song is a pop song. And this song is an R&B song, and this song is a folk song or whatever. And so then the production started to coalesce around that. I tend to focus on things I've experienced lyrically. And I think it's a lot easier to write a song when you're charged up emotionally about something.


I have a song called “Help”, and I was just really mad and upset. The same thing with “Self Love” which is another very 'I'm gonna write a diss track from a third person perspective'. Yeah. Then all of the anger and stuff is sort of encapsulated in the tune. I started doing a lot of zoom and FaceTime co-writes with people. So, sometimes you'll get a really good song out of that. A lot of times you won't. It's interesting--as it's become more of a job the thing about my tunes, are that they're all really biographical or metaphorically biographical.

Neelu Mohaghegh:

Yeah, for sure. I can see with every title there's something tied to it, like a chapter of your life.

William:

Yeah, I was talking to my buddy about this recently, I think an album needs a narrative. I love making albums. That's what I love to make.


Neelu:

It's a lost art form.

William:

Yeah, I think there’s just so much more that you can give...You can sprinkle this melody from this tune...you can use that same sound here, there.


Neelu:

Yeah, you can story tell.


William:

Yes, My buddy was arguing that lyrically, you don't need a narrative, which I somewhat agree, across the record, because he was saying, these are just songs I've written over this period of time. Which I understand. But during COVID I put out "Everything Will Be Okay". But I was writing songs like every day, just wake up and go into the studio and write. I wrote all the songs and it took me months. And I was like, 'Well, I've really played myself here' because there's no theme. And then months later, I realized, 'Oh, well, all of these songs have a common thread... so it's interesting what my buddy was talking about where it is this encapsulation era. These songs encapsulate a chapter of your life.


Neelu: Yeah. It's like, they have a weird way of intertwining with this thread. There's always a common ground when you're definitely in the thick of it. It's just always on your mind. It's the one thing that you're going to probably keep producing, keep talking about, even subconsciously.


William:

That was the thing a lot of the new songs are latched on to this idea. Eight months after, I had a bunch of these tunes and realized all of these are kind of about doubt. Weird. What am I feeling right now? I wonder what that is?

Neelu:

It's sort of in the same vein as that Instagram account We're Not Really Strangers. It can be corny and cliche, but I think it's pretty profound in the sense that yeah, at the end of the day, we're all not really strangers. We're all kind of going through the same experiences and the same problems and everything.


William:

Yeah, if you need any sort of tangible example of that just go anywhere in the world. I remember when I went to Sweden, I was sitting in a pub, and everyone is speaking Swedish. But everyone's just with their friends having a laugh, you know? Having a drink. We would go around all day, and everybody needs breakfast, lunch and dinner or lunch or dinner, whatever. Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants relationships and stuff.


Neelu:

We're familiar creatures. So now, if you had to choose a song out of all the songs you've put out to introduce yourself with, what would you choose? Say, I'm meeting you for the first time, what song best represents you?


William:

I talked to an agent about this actually. He asked me this same question, and I went on a very drunken rant. I'm not slandering your question...

Neelu:

Haha, oh, that's fine, slander away.


William:

I would never, I could never.


Neelu:

I can take it.


William:

You did live in LA.


Neelu:

I did live in LA.

William:

Well, let me ask you a question, if you could name one Paul McCartney song that encapsulates Paul McCartney, what would it be?


Neelu:

Yeah, that's tough because you can easily say the popular song that everyone knows, "Yesterday".


William:

Yeah but then you're leaving out "Penny Lane" and "Hey Jude" and "Band On the Run", and so I think that's my struggle a lot of the time is that if you look at my top five on Spotify, there's an ambient electronic key guitar-ish, mellow cover of a 1975 song. There's the pop song "Why Won't You Be My Girl", then "George Harrison", which is like a bossa nova, acoustic song. Then "Ireland", which is a straight up acoustic, folk song. Then I think "Kitchen Talk" is number five, and that's like a Top 40 song. Then "I Can't Think for Myself" which is like a 50s doo-wop.


Neelu:

Yeah, they're all part of your identity.

William:

Everybody says there's the one song that you have that has everything, but what I do is everything. So no one song can have everything.


Neelu:

I totally hear you. I just think some artists have this one song that when they put it out had the most meaning to them. But I see your point. All these songs that you put out are just pieces and portions of you that puts the puzzle together.


William:

I would rather do everything, and people listen because they like me, and they like the way that I do it, that they want to hear me.



Neelu:

If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?


William:

The 1975 For sure. They're such a huge influence on me. Especially in terms of the live show. Obviously, McCartney, but I think that'd be pretty daunting. Then, I think John Mayer. But once again, what am I gonna go do that he's not gonna just destroy? haha. My spring is going to be so dope. On April 1st, I'm seeing Bob Dylan.


Neelu:

Oh, okay.


William:

And no, it's not a joke. haha. Then April 11th, I see John and then May 21st, I see Paul. And then June 14th, I see Ringo.

Neelu:

Oh my, you're just gonna be on an emotional roller. Spring is just tears and waterworks. That's awesome. So now for this tour of yours, what have been the best moments you've had so far?

William:

Obviously meeting you. Very high up.


Neelu:

Aww, all right, brownie points.


William:

Haha. It's very interesting to just be able to go and play. One thing Kate and I talked about on this run, in the beginning, you know, we thought when we started planning, that everybody's gonna get vaccinated, and that COVID would be a non-issue. At that point everybody was rushing to get gigs and venues "post pandemic". But both our original intention, basically, was to see, that we've played in a bunch of these places, I played in Boston three times, then DC I played a ton of times. So we've played here X amount of times, let's see how many tickets we can actually sell, how much of the audience comes back. But then it sort of shifted both because of COVID and just general bizarro aspects of being alive in 2022. It quickly became more about the connections that we're making with people in these individual cities than it was about ticket sales.


So that's been one of the best parts of this story is just that's been a real focus, is just in every city, I feel like we've made new friends, even more deeply established the connections that we already had. We were talking about this on the podcast that we were on last night. Like, you go and you play, and you make friends and stuff. And now like, I feel like I have friends like, everywhere. Yeah, absolutely. I'm the kind of person that if, I've met you one time, and we had a laugh, and let's say you live in Milwaukee, then I have a place to stay in Milwaukee, and I can go play in Milwaukee. That's been the best thing, I think the whole concept of fandom is very interesting.

Neelu:

And it's gotten more serious. I think in the past couple years, especially as a result of the pandemic. I think there's a lot more focus on fandoms.


William:

I think there's such an amazing thing when your fans become your friends.



Neelu:

And you put out a new song in January "Social Fitness" I see that it is a different vibe from the other songs too, for sure. It's a little bit more in the pop sphere with an electronic kind of vibe. How has your music evolved since you first started?


William:

I think just as myself and my friends...but dialing into a production technique...There's a song on the new record that is like a 1920s ragtime song, which is a tough sell. Haha. But, it was so fun.


Neelu:

Like the Great Gatsby era.


William:

Exactly. It's just really fun to make. Because you are just like 'Alright, I'm just gonna go live in this world for a bit.'


Neelu:

Yeah, I love little period pieces.


William:

I love pastiche. That's a very “Beatle-y” thing to do.


Neelu:

So, what is on the horizon coming up that you are excited about?


William:

There's some tunes. I'm hoping we'll put out a bunch of singles. I was gonna put one out on my birthday. But I decided against it. I'll being doing a hometown show that day with a full band. It'll be fun. I put out a cover of Eleanor Rigby when I was on tour in the fall. So probably the beginning of April, I think, I will release "Fun Employment" which I played at the Sofar show. I wanted it to be different. I don't think that there's really another song like it, an anthem for poor musicians. So, I got a bunch of musicians on it.


But just putting out more music, and especially with what I do, I want it to be as exciting to be a fan of me as it is for me to be a fan of the people I love.


Neelu:

Yeah, that's a great way of putting it. So, I would love to know, when you're not doing music, what are some fun facts or hobbies that fans may not know?


William:

Yeah. I have a great cat, Basil. She's so great. I love movies. I like going to the movies during the day by myself. It's one of the simple joys in life. If you go to the movies by yourself, in the middle of the day, it's bright outside, you go in, you're in a time warp for two hours or whatever, and then you come back out and it's still day. That is a cheap thrill. I love being with people. Having a drink. Sometimes, I go golfing, I'm very bad at golf.


One thing about I was telling somebody yesterday about tour is that we're going to start driving three hours to Worcester and then we go to Syracuse, which is like four hours, and then I have to wake up early to get to Laguardia. So, it's really finding that time. It’s [touring is] a very conditional experience. Once you just accept that you're on the ledge constantly, it's actually really fun. It's freeing. ----------------------

Thank you, William, for your time and everyone be sure to check out his music on Spotify and follow him on Instagram.

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