Vo Williams: 10K80

Words + Interview By: L.M.W.

Vo Williams is an artist/writer/composure who over the years has been heard more than he has been seen. After relocating to LA from Florida,Vo found himself amongst other creatives who have helped him create a resume filled with song placements on shows like Empire, Ballers, Lethal Weapon, SNL, Power and Atlanta. 

Describing his sound as “Epic Hip-Hop”, Vo feels people invest too much energy in aligning themselves with established brands and not enough time building one of their own. He also believes in creating outside of the box and maximizing his “10K80”.  

What was life like growing up?
I’m from a small town in Florida called Sarasota. It wasn’t easy being a young creative in a city with minimal creative outlets, but it really helped me to develop an appreciation for discovering new things. Overall, it was a bitter sweet experience with its own unique set of limitations and benefits.

At what age did you decide to become a musician?
I can’t recall my exact age but I was always fascinated with music. I used to impersonate Micheal Jackson a lot as a child and I think that was my way of trying to learn how to be a performer in some capacity. My mom bought me my first guitar when I was about 13 and that is also around the same time I began  formatting my poetry into song structure.

Did a small town like Sarasota (Florida) have a music scene? If so, what did that entail? 
When I was growing up in Sarasota, there was no music scene at all. The closest major city to us was Tampa and they always had things popping. We would travel there to enter emcee battles or to open for artist touring Florida. It’s crazy though because Twin Shadow and I went to the same High school and we actually had jam sessions and live shows at coffee shops together. But, he went on to explode out of New York and I am bubbling out of LA. So, Sarasota definitely has talent, just limited outlets.

What role has “skate board culture” played in your life?
Skateboarding played a huge role in my life. It was the first time I found a real community and a sense of independence. Skating is a full on lifestyle so it touched every aspect of my life at the time, from style to sports to music.

Who influences you, musically?
Honestly, other creators influence me. Anytime I see or hear something dope it always inspires me to create. That list can include anyone from Kanye to someone I stumble upon on Soundcloud with 100 followers. If it’s fresh and well done it provokes me to want to work, always.

What is your favorite Nirvana record? Our editor (Tyrone Davis) started listening to them while living in Germany as a kid. His favorite record is, “Heart-Shaped Box”.
Haha, that’s dope! Tyrone has amazing taste! Lithium is going harder than ever for me right now. I think that record just really captures my childhood and the vibe of being a teen in a slow city. I really dig the drama and contrast that swings between sections and how iconic the melody is. It is a hit without trying to be a hit. It is just good songwriting.

Speaking of boxes, why is it important for artists to think outside of the box? How has that been beneficial to you?
Sure, I think it can be important for artist to think outside of the box in some cases. But, the motivation has to be driven by something authentic and not for the sake of being different. New ideas move us forward. Its good for the world to have invention but it is also a great gift to ourselves as artists. Thinking outside of the box has been empowering to me not only musically but also in my approach to the music business. 

How did you end up creating work that would be used for film/television over the traditional music route? 
My career started when I met Robin Loxley. He was already well established in music for film and was looking for a Hip Hop artist to experiment with. When we linked the creative chemistry was incredible. The first song we made in an hour and it became the music for an international trailer Big Game starring Samuel L. Jackson a few months later, our first win of hundreds.

How important are live instruments in music today? Do you play any? If so, which ones?
You will never be able to replace the feeling of live instrumentation. It is so important if you’re looking for that human touch and vibration. I play Guitar and I get around on the Piano. I also play Berimbau, Atabaque, Agogo, and Pandeiro.

Elaborate on the following tweets:

A) Everyone ACTUALLY sounds like Bone Thugs. #Migos did bring it back BEST, then Drake made it pop with his use. REALLY it’s the beat type that is popular. The flow is just the current solution over this trending beat type. When the beat trend changes, so will the rap cadence. #hiphop
I was responding to a Tweet about how all Hip-Hop sounds the same and how every rapper uses the “triplets” flow, which has some truth to it. People attack that last thing that sold well. I was giving some background to where the actual flow itself originated. I was also pointing out that waiting for the emcees themselves to switch up styles is not the core of the solution. Really what’s being sold is the trend happening in beat making. That kind of beat that is popular right now only has a few strong solutions for flow cadence. The beat dictates the choices a rapper has to approach their flow. If people want something new to happen in hip hop, the trend of the commanding instrumental must first evolve.

B) I stopped using N**** in my s**t. People have literally asked me to drop some in, so my music felt more “real”. No other genre is challenged more for authenticity through negative things like this and “street cred”. #music #writer #BlackExcellence
Sometimes the black image is being projected by black artist but through the lens of non-black executives. There can often be an access of control in this space but a lack of actual experience or connection with the culture. When the two meet, you may get requests like, “Make it more real.”, which usually means “Be more gangsta, or use the N-word.” To some people, black music (Hip-Hop) is not as authentic unless it possesses a level of ignorance or negativity. I’m working to change that.

C) I have over 800 million views in accumulative content (digital alone). And almost no one knows my face. Lol. #sync #music #film
Haha, you really crept my Twitter pretty hard. Music for film is quite interesting because although my music is being experienced in media around the world and sometimes multiple times in a day, there isn’t really a name or face to that music. Often a show, movie or even a trailer will also be posted to Youtube after its aired on TV or in theaters. If you count the views (just on Youtube) of the content being driven by my music, my music has been viewed over 800 million times. That’s just Youtube views and not counting the actual airings of that same content on TV, Radio or in Theaters prior to the upload.

What exactly is “10K80”? Break that down for us.
“10K80” is shorthand for 10,080, which is the number of minutes in each week. KultureHub.com uses the term to highlight the way a person uses their 10,080 in each week. It’s meant to examine the process of mastering ones craft.

What would be the ultimate collab? 
The lyrics and topline writing would include myself and Frank Ocean with a feature from Rick Ross and Bilal on the bridge. The production would be arranged by or directed by Kanye, using acoustic samples from Kirk Hammett from Metallica and some input from Flying Lotus.

What’s next for Vo Williams?
I just dropped a single with DJ Ricky Luna called, I Am The One, and I have a dope EP dropping with Robin Loxley. I’ve also teamed up with cinematographer Greg Hatton on an audio visual project entitled, More than Music. Look out for that project on my Instagram @Thisisvo.

Any last words?
Dream Big. Gate keepers bleed.

Photo By: Zach Ryan

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