Bill Abernathy – Folk Singer Songwriter Explores Willow Creek
Hey Bill Abernathy! It’s an honour to have you chit chat with us and we are really grateful to you for making time for this interview despite your busy schedule. Thank you once again, let’s begin with the interview:
What drew you to the music industry?
I think the love of music is a lifelong passion. As much as I enjoyed doing music when I was young, I actually think the time away from performing has made me enjoy it even more. I think if you choose to ignore your passions you lose a piece of who you are. Why did I get back into this after the years away? I saw and interview not long ago with a world renown musician who still practices 8 hours a day. When asked why his response was epic. He said “I think I am improving” I feel the same. I think the years of experiences have made me a better songwriter and performer. So, I will continue to work until there is some reason I can’t, and then cherish all the time I had.
Who are you inspired by?
There are tons of musicians to list as inspiration. The list is long and distinguished. What really inspires me are the stories I learn from not only the musicians but other folks as well. To be able to document the human condition, the challenges, the changes that each of us experience in our lives in a musical form is truly my inspiration.
Please explain your creative process
I really write from inspiration. I will see something, meet someone, hear a story, or notice something happening in society that inspires me, I will put down some thoughts. Those thoughts are on scraps of paper, in my phone, sometimes I even made a short recording, so I don’t forget them. Then the puzzle building begins to take those thoughts and put them together is a cohesive thought and form that makes some sense, is interesting to listen to and fun to play.
What’s an average day like for you?
I am an early riser, so I typically have a cup of coffee, play with WORF my pup, have some breakfast, check on the events of the day. I find the early hours of the day are best for me to work on music, so that is usually one of the first events of the day. Sometimes that evolves into a full day event and deep into the night.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I don’t think I am smart enough to “hide” messages in my music.
That said, the beauty of songwriting is using words and music to express what you want to say. I find it fascinating that tunes that I think are pretty black and white regarding their meanings, affect other people in different ways with completely different meanings. Is that hidden meanings? I am not sure, but it is certainly the reality many times.
Do you collaborate with others? What is that process?
Yes, I do, and on several levels. I have a small group of friends that I send thoughts and lyrics to. I value their opinions and they give me some great advice. I also collaborate with a tight group of musicians who help me with ideas on the musical side. Many times, I will hear something in a song that I want to add in, and they help me figure out the best ways to accomplish that. And of course, they are far more skilled players than and I, and they have great ideas. It’s fun on so many levels to have others involved in your creative process.
Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans
I am really fortunate to have fans that like to interact both in live shows and correspondence through social media. I think it’s really important to keep in touch with folks that enjoy what we do, while maintaining some balance of not filling up their inboxes with random stuff. I don’t like it when folks do that to me, and I try my best to not do that to my fans. When I have something they may be interested in hearing about, I will communicate that.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?
My favorite thing is the interaction with fans. Hearing their thoughts and stories. When someone tells me a song of mine meant something to them, made them laugh, cry, think, or just tap their foot, that is my favorite thing.
My least favorite? I hate playing live when I cannot hear. Good monitors are critical to me. I have played shows where the stage sound was either really bad or nonexistent. That really affects performances negatively so if you’re a sound guy or a venue please think about that.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
Well I am a bit of a preparation and practice freak. I think a lot of performance anxiety with many artists comes from lack of preparation. I think we all get butterflies, but with proper preparation you can get those butterflies to fly in formation.
Tell me about your favorite performance venues
I won’t list one in particular, but my favorites all have the same things in common. Good sound, good monitors, and an atmosphere that is conducive to quality interaction with the audience. I like to see the audience, look in their eyes, so my favorite venues are typically smaller and more intimate.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Know who you are! I think it’s great to study other artists and figure out how they play, write, perform etc. In my mind trying to copy what others do is a recipe massive failure. Know who you are as a writer, a musician and a performer and be who YOU are. Be confident with who you are and confident delivering your performance to your audience. Oh yeah and practice, practice, practice. Give you and your audience the best chance for a good performance.