Daphne Willis stopped by the WERS studio while she was in Boston for her tour to play some music and talk with DJ Zuzana about touring, her musical process, who she's listening to, and more!
Check out the full interview and performance here, including "Forgiveness," "Somebody's Someone," and "Stay"
Transcribed by Cody Gelsinger
Zuzana: I’m in studio with the wonderfully talented Daphne Willis.
Daphne Willis: Thank you so much.
Z: Thank you! There is something about your lyrics that are truly enchanting and seriously honest. I wish everyone was in the studio right now because you can’t get that over any kind of microphone or headphone.
DW: Thank you so much.
Z: So I understand that you are on going on tour… right now you’re on tour.
DW: Yeah, I’m kinda like… I’m just out for a minute. Which I love. I love playing shows, I love playing live, I love traveling. I think if I didn’t like traveling I’d be doing the wrong thing.
Z: What is that experience like?
DW: It’s wonderful! I mean, I get to meet people like you, I get to go out and meet people who are awesome and doing really cool stuff. It’s inspiring. I think when I am home in Nashville for too long, I get stuck, you know? It’s like I have to leave to get that movement going otherwise I get in a rut, like writer’s block, you know? It’s nice. Yeah, so lots of shows coming up.
Z: Would you say that when you are on tour is when most of your musical and lyric process explodes?
DW: Totally. Like, I am always jotting stuff down when I am on the road. I record little voice memos on my phone and just things will come to me on the road… most of the time. And then I go back and I have list of all this stuff so when I go into co-writing sessions, I just pick from a list of stuff.
Z: That’s awesome. Would you say music has always been a part of your life? Or just what got you into music originally?
DW: I have been singing all my life. Both of my parents were music majors at UT Austin. My mom was actually a vocal major and my dad majored in engineering and they had like a music duo they used to tour around, like in Austin or Texas. So I just grew up with music, we were always rocking out.
Z: That’s awesome. And if you had any message to tell any specific person or all of your fans, what would it be?
DW: I mean, I gravitate towards empowering music that is inspiring and uplifting so I try to embody that positivity and self-empowerment in my music. You know, it’s like therapy for me too. To get to the write songs like that it’s no matter what I am doing, if I can write songs like that I am always going to feel better.
Z: I think that’s the great thing about artists and just that therapeutic process.
Z: I really see that within you. So, what are you listening to in the van right now?
DW: Oh my gosh. Well, I always listen to Sia. I’m a huge Sia fan. Huge. And then I’ve been jamming out John Mayer’s new record. It’s insane. I think it’s the best thing he’s put out since Continuum. I’m a fan of the honesty and the lyrics, and he blends a lot of genres together. There’s kind of a flavor for everybody on the record. I just think he did a really good job. So, I’ve been doing that. But, I do a lot of audiobooks on the road. I do mostly, I do a lot of audiobooks. We listen to music a lot, but you can only listen to so much music in a van for ten hours.
Z: Who do you like to read?
DW: I do all kinds of stuff. I just did a really cool memoir called Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. That was amazing. It’s about being born a mixed kid in South Africa and just his life. That was incredible. And then I do mystery thriller books which are just basically your version of a soap opera in a book. But they pull you in and make the time pass. You know, I’ll be on a plane for three hours and I’m like “what?”
Z: Is there something like a theme of honesty that really pulls you towards an artist or an author?
DW: Yeah, oh absolutely.
Z: I just see that with Sia and John Mayer and something about memoirs.
DW: Yeah, for sure. You know, I pull stuff from other people’s experiences too. And I think that listening to music that’s honest and almost sentimental in a way, emotionally, kind of exposes you to new ideas ways of approaching those emotions in your own writing. So hearing others talk about their own experiences, in an honest way, just can give you a different perspective.
Z: That’s amazing. So, we’re going to transition into your last song. It’s called Somebody’s Someone, and I understand that this is dedicated to anyone that knows addiction, mental illness, or homelessness and that is something that I am so inspired by.
DW: Yeah, and thank you, it’s been pretty tremendous and the response has been overwhelming in a good way. Cause it is a good message and an important message, and one I think people are just starting to come around to talk about. You know, there’s just such a stigma around it. It’s been cool to see it being used as an icebreaker for people who may not be able to say things to their loved ones. It’s pretty cool. It’s called “Somebody’s Someone,” here it is.