Tuesday, July 8, 2008
"From chips and shards, in idle times, I made these storied, shaped these rhymes; May they engage some friendly tongue When I am past the reach of song." --Byron Herbert Reece
Willem Maker(aka Wes Doggett) is a last minute addition to The Deep Blues Music and Film Festival line-up (he'll play friday July 17th) and i'm delighted to have the opportunity to see him. Willem Maker was recently signed to Big Legal Mess Records (a division of Fat Possum Records empire). You know how we heart the FP boys and we feel this should prove to a good move for both camps. Willem maker had a nice one-page write up in No Depression magazine several months ago. After the ND article I contacted Willem Maker for a copy of the Stars Fall On album. Loved it. It's got a wealth of smart, soulful, dirty, rawk / folk / blues sounds embedded with poetic, thoughtful, intriguing lyric work. I needed to know more. But inspite of extensive Google-ing and Yahoo-ing I found no additional information about the artist Willem Maker. I contacted him again to request an email Q n' A and he was kind enough to reply.
why the nome de rawk Willem Maker as opposed to your government name Wes Doggett? Is it to eliminate any confusion that may arise between you and Wes Doggett, Emeritus Professor North Carolina State University Department of Physics?
Ah ... not at all. I don't know the professor. Don't think there's enough of us in the world to cause confusion anyway. I started out as just "Maker" years ago ... my first name's William (Willem for short) ... just combined the two.
I don't really know. When an idea lingers for a while, I tend to just go with it.
Right after I made the change, my grandparents gave me the old family piano so I could have a real one on the record. It needed some attention so I took it to a guy to pull the guts out and get it in working order. While it was in the shop, a friend sent me a link to a web page where someone had a dream diary online ... in a dream, someone had run across an old junked piano with "Willem Maker" written on it. I knew I was on the right track ...
Did you play drums and any other instruments on the album?
Drums and mastering are the two things I didn't do. For better or worse, I'm responsible for the rest.
What sort of live set up do you use...in other words will you be bringing a drummer etc or just you and guitar?
I'm solo right now ... it'll be a mix of acoustic and electric. It's the best of both worlds I think. I write a lot on acoustic, but some songs demand electricity.
After listening to the album a few times on the headphones I felt a real poetic depth lyrically as well as musically. It also has a kind of...dreamlike quality...a mystery to it that I really crave in the stuff I listen to. I hear at times a Son Volt-ish-ness in your stuff at times. The No Depression piece mentioned that the band you had with your brother back in '94 recorded a single that was produced by Son Volt's Jay Farrar. How important is Farrar's stuff to you in relation to the sound you were going after for Stars Fell On? Or were you going after any sound at all? My impression from listening is this album is the sound of YOU without any preconceived notion of trying to sound like Jay or anyone else.
In the beginning, it was the heavy rotation of Townes, Cash and Nick Drake that shifted my mind from being a pure musician (bass) to songwriting ... there are so many artists (Jay included) that have crept into my home and influenced / enriched my life one way or another ... forever grateful ... but at this point, I just try to listen to what's coming down the proverbial pipe and catch as much as possible. The Band (Basement Tapes) and the Charley Patton box set (Revenant) were big during the early hours of Stars Fell On ... I hear those two echoing ... who knows?
"a kind of...um...dreamlike quality...a mystery to it that I really crave in the stuff I listen to."
I agree. It's a mystery even to me. I don't know where it comes from ... a song's meaning can shift endlessly. It's great that you mention dreams because to me, it best describes the process. If I try to remember a dream in the morning, it seems to run from me, but if I relax and stay out of the way, it'll usually come back in waves. Same goes for songwriting; the ones I'm most proud of have come when writing is the last thing on my mind. If I start analyzing, it all goes up in smoke. In dreamtime, we're different people every night. Our perspective can be anywhere at once. The cup always runneth over. I think the key is to start dreaming in our own waking life. The world's in trouble ... future generations will inherit a complete disaster if we don't start envisioning / making new roads - with our own hands.
Got a day job?
Self-employed ... carpentry / woodworking / etc.
Do you play live much?
I took a break from the stage the last couple of years but ... times are changing. Unless something comes up before, the Deep Blues Festival will be the icebreaker.
I grew up near the Snake river in eastern Washington state and although I live in N.FL now the Snake river, as you mention in Vale Lost to The World Idoes "call forever". How did that line come about...if you even know?
There's a Snake Creek near where I grew up. Some family friends lived right next to it. When I was real young, we would visit from time to time. I remember walking down a long trail through the woods to this magical place. The line is "Snake river crawls forever." I only say this to highlight an earlier point ... a song's meaning can shift endlessly.
You seem to be a literate fellow. Who do you like to read?
I'm not dedicated enough to be dropping names. However, I will say one:
Byron Herbert Reece -- North Georgia poet of the highest order.
Ass-u-me-ing you like to read would you care to attempt a desert island book list?
Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" would be a good pillow.
Last question. and a half. Lets say you have a 5 disc cd changer. What's in rotation now?
Wray's Three Track Shack - Link Wray
Children - Famous L. Renfroe
Amassakoul - Tinariwen
White Chalk - PJ Harvey
Cloud of Unknowing - James Blackshaw
Desert island rotation?
I think I'd be to busy tending the fire to play with plastic ... that is until I found The Hatch. There's good vinyl down there.
Well said, sir. Willem Maker will be playing The Deep Blues Festival on Friday July 17th. See you there.
WiLLEM MAKER MySpace
WiLLEM MAKER- Outside the Limits MP3
WiLLEM MAKER- Vale LOst to the World I MP3
WiLLEM MAKER- White Ladye (demo) MP3
Check out this video: Willem Maker : Saints Weep Wine
Add to My Profile | More Videos