Following the release of his ninth studio album “This Land,” Whetherman answers questions about his career and the album.
Traditional Folk came back into the light roughly eight years ago with the release of Mumford and Son’s first album “Sigh No More.” This constructed a path to mainstream for Folk music, only to be once again magnified in the today’s music by bands like The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men.
From the rising popularity of this rejuvenated genre comes many names, but one stands out: Whetherman. The artist, Nicholas Williams, has been making music under the name “Whetherman” for just over a decade. In that time, Williams has created nine studio albums, one released just this month, “This Land.” With poetic lyrics that fall in a Bob Dylan-esque category, Williams sings with a graceful melodious voice reminiscent of the scratchy tone and range of Ed Sheeran.
Williams considers himself a part of the Americana genre, which brings together multiple styles and smashes them artfully together into one beautiful mix. I took the time to interview him and ask him some questions about his music:
When did you get started in music?
I first started playing music in third grade, I played violin in the school orchestra, and I was absolutely terrible, mostly because I couldn’t read music very well. I was able to get by from memory mostly, but my teacher put me in the way back since I was usually bowing in the opposite direction from everyone else. That didn’t last long, and I didn’t play any instruments again until I picked up a guitar in the spring of my junior year in high school when I was 16.
When did you realize you wanted to do this as a career?
I was going through a really rough time in my first two years of college. I had gone to The Ohio State University on a lacrosse scholarship, and I tore the ACL in my left knee three times. That left me depressed with more time on my hands than I could stand. Music quickly moved from a hobby to a full-time emotional support, and around my sophomore year of college, I started to fantasize about it becoming my path in life.
Did you think you’d be where you now are ten years ago?
I think when I started this project ten years ago, I imagined success coming far quicker than it has. Not to mention the definition of the word “success” has vastly changed since then. I had no idea how much I would learn about the business and myself, and I probably was picturing a very unrealistic future honestly.
What genre do you consider yourself?
Americana Singer-Songwriter. That’s becoming harder and harder to pinpoint as I’m sure it is for most musicians these days. We’re all heavily influenced by the past and present music going on, across several genres and through many cultures. Sub-genres and hybrids seem to be the common thread of description.
What are you listening to now in your free time?
Aside from my usual James Taylor, Father John Misty, Gregory Alan Isakov, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Dr. Dog, Elephant Revival spins… I’m currently listening to a lot of Amelia Curran, Andy Shauf, Brent Cobb, Chatham County Line, Honeysuckle, Jon and Roy, Mandolin Orange, and Sufjan Stevens.
What is on the new album?
True Americana music hitting the full spectrum of roots music, poetic political and moral compass lyrical content, and melodic comforting vocals.
What were your inspirations for the new album and what should fans expect?
I was heavily inspired by the current events in America. The whirlwind that our country is swept up in has seemingly taken everyone into it. I went to Folk Alliance for the first time in the middle of recording this record and was so moved by the amount of talent and community that was there. I had to come back and fit my record into what I learned, and I feel as though I did that with my own interests in mind. It’s best to walk in without any expectations to this album.
The album is full of beauty. Williams’s lyrics tackle issues in the world and produce feelings of wonder and joy as someone listens. Williams is proficient with the pen, and on this album, not only is he singing in English, but also in French.
There is no doubt he is taking this genre by storm and is continuing to make alluring music for anyone willing to listen. With his finger-picking, beautiful whistle and harmonica holder around his neck, his creativity is unmatched.
The new album, “This Land” is now available on iTunes, Spotify, and other listening platforms. People can also check out the album on “No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music.”