Westerman on “Your Hero Is Not Dead” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, June 19th, 2024  

Westerman on “Your Hero Is Not Dead”

Embracing Unique Neurology

Jan 20, 2021 Westerman Photography by Bex Day Bookmark and Share

Being discovered by the same reps who signed megastar Adele, being profiled by major publications as an artist to watch, and garnering critical acclaim for his debut album, Your Hero Is Not Dead, should all be points of pride for Will Westerman. And yet, it would be an understatement to say the West London-based indie pop rookie’s newfound success hasn’t gone to his head. If anything, when interviewed, Westerman (who uses his surname as a stage moniker) sounds modest to a fault, even occasionally insecure. When asked about his writing process, for instance, the soft-spoken songwriter applies some plucky self-deprecation while describing the obstacles involved.

“Most of the music I write, nobody ever hears. I end up discarding a lot of it, before finally reaching a place of honesty, and something worth releasing,” he says of the sometimes painful steps he takes before successfully completing some of the year’s best indie pop, be it the hypnotically throbbing “Confirmation” or the melodically melancholic “Easy Money.” Those songs are sure to win over fans of debonair ’80s sophisiti-pop like The Blue Nile or The Style Council, but Westerman’s take on that synth drenched, soulful crooning is more shadowy and smoldering. He also sets himself apart from the current electro-indie pack by singing high notes with impeccable precision and incorporating the acoustic guitar strums that he used to great effect at open mic nights throughout England’s capital. Producer Bullion propelled Westerman toward a more eclectic sound that shrouds his relatably cryptic lyrics in hypnotic rhythms that will linger in your subconscious long after the songs fade. His sophisti-pop forebearers never sang about being in the throws of confusion like Westerman does on “Confirmation.”

Westerman goes on to reveal the source of that strain: “Oftentimes, the music I make doesn’t work, because I’m being too self conscious about how people will see how I’ve done.”

That lack of confidence shouldn’t come as a surprise, despite Westerman’s rapid rise in the music industry. The fans he has accrued by releasing many of Your Hero Is Not Dead’s best songs as singles over the past year or so can surely hear the palpable aches and vulnerability in his voice. A key source of that turmoil was revealed last year, when Westerman was diagnosed with ADHD. He hopes those listeners can relate to his struggles, though Westerman says that the diagnosis was not a source of despair. Instead it was, oddly enough, affirming.

That’s because, as a younger man, Westerman felt overwhelmed by the strict education he received at the esteemed Charterhouse boarding school in the south of England. “I always found school difficult, because it’s a narrow institution. They’re quite rigid in the way they appreciate stuff, and everyone is expected to do things the same way, which I’ve always struggled with because I’d think: ‘I don’t really understand how this works.’”

He can now more wisely, and thankfully more assuredly, declare: “But I do understand how things work, in a different way.”

Today, his scholastic trials need not define him, nor the teacher position and pub/restaurant jobs he had difficulty holding down. Thwarting the self-consciousness those rigid experiences instilled in him for far too long leads Westerman to not only create his purest music, but also forge precious connections with equally beset listeners.

As Westerman puts it: “I want to get rid of that self consciousness, because I think the music that people connect with comes from a human place, that people can relate to.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 67 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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