Friday, March 10, 2017

Local high school student and musician launched first CD By Stephen Signor

After just two and one half years of seriously pursuing his passion for music - by practicing and taking music theory lessons - Windham High School senior, Holden Willard has produced his first CD entitled, “Heartbreak on Spiller Hill”. It is an 11 track, 57 minute home-spun collection of songs, nine of which he wrote himself. 

Inspired by moments and emotions in his young life, this musical collage ranges from rock to indie-folk. The two songs he did not write, (“She Belongs to Me” and “A Time for Dying”) are covers from Bob Dylan, one of his hero/musical influences.

Musician, Holden Willard, on the front cover of his new CD
A key figure that plays a role in Willard’s musical drive comes from two other sources. “No one else in my family is musically inclined so it has been really up to me to figure out my influences. One of my heroes is Jeff Buckley, a singer song writer in the 90s. His tragic passing made his music that much more meaningful to me,” explains Willard. And then, there is Elliot Smith, a base player that also goes by the name of Thunder Cat.

But, the title of the CD says it all. “Spiller Hill is where I live. The whole entire area for me has a really big influence on the music that I write, themes of childhood, and themes of heartbreak. There are a couple of songs that deal with love and how a teenager goes through that kind of thing and the misfortunes that occur,” explains Willard. He should know. “I went through a couple of those things and a couple of songs are based on actual events that happened in my life. I like to create a story based on truth because it has a deeper meaning,” continued Willard.

Putting all of this together has not been without its challenges. “As a high school student that’s going to be going to college, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment, so the recording quality is the best I could do with what I had. All of it is done on a laptop and crappy microphone. I think it shows the importance that anyone can do it; anyone can put music out if they are musically inclined,” stated Willard. As for getting his music out there, Willard uses social media sites like Sound Cloud and Band Camp.

The first track, “Killing Floor” is a tune that deals with everyone’s inner demons. Who doesn’t have those? From the moment the first chords are struck, one can tell Willard has a unique style of his own.

While listening to the CD, one can be taken into so many different places that are vaguely familiar.  “Air Conditioner Blues,” (track five) was one of those tracks. About that track, Willard shared, “There is no real meaning behind this; I was just listening to Jack Johnson a lot when I came up with this chord progression.” In combination with guitar licks Willard used his unique voice as the transporter. 

Willard’s musical talent was showcased not long ago at the theater. “I played in the pit band for the theater performance, ‘Kiss Me Kate’ for about a week or so. It was sheet music reading, which right now is one of my weaknesses, so that was really a good way to hone my skills.”

In the future, expect to see Willard on stage with accompaniment. “I’m getting a live band together. The name has yet to be decided because the actual idea of forming the band only manifested a few days ago.”  There is also the issue of live exposure. “There are a lot of talented musicians in Windham and Raymond but a lot of places don’t give them a chance to play because they are high school students.”

While music is his true passion, Willard’s main aspiration is art. “I’m an artist. I will be attending the University of Maine this fall for art education. My music is more of a hobby,” shared Willard. In the meantime he will be getting the word out about his CD through friends, friends of friends, family members and fellow students and teachers at school. So far the response has been favorable. “It’s been pretty good. I’ve been getting reviews from a lot of my friends.” 

When he’s not doing either of those things there is always the school newspaper where he write music reviews. 

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