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Music As a Calling

Music As A Calling

Photo credit: Nicole Romanoff (@nicoleromanoffphoto)

Our Moose Jaw Journey to Hope team reached out to William Wenaus after the release of a recent music project in collaboration with Taeyon, one of the most successful female soloists in Asia (originating from South Korea). “Dear Me” went no.1 in 25 countries on the iTunes Charts, which broke two records for a South Korean Female Soloist. The song also went no.1 on all three major Chinese streaming apps, and was in the top 5 positions in all major South Korean streaming apps.

So we asked a bit about William’s story….

I’m a full-time songwriter/producer now, but I used to a sessional instructor in the English Department at the U of R and Luther College. I have a Master of Arts in English with a focus on Japanese and Korean Modernist Literature in the context of Global Modernism. Probably my background in East Asian culture helped a bit in trying to understand the Asian side of the music industry. Actually, Eastern and Western artists have been influencing each other and collaborating together for nearly 200 years, so my contribution to that dynamic is just a drop in the bucket, and part of a much longer history of cultural and artistic interaction. It’s just not something people talk too much about in everyday settings.

Curious in William’s background music we then asked what his passion in music….

I’m not sure. It’s just a natural impulse, I guess. It’s what I do. I wish I was good at something more practical, but I’m not. So, this is my role. My job is to write the best music possible, and make as many people happy as I possibly can. That’s my purpose, I think.

With the song Dear Me, we wanted to get the story behind the creation of this song in partnership with Taeyon…

The original version of the song was called “Release Me,” and the main idea for it came about in 2017. It was finished in 2018, pitched in 2019, and released in 2020 (re-titled as “Dear Me”). I remember coming up with the guitar riff that opens the song, and it feeling like a huge emotional release, which is why I eventually called it “Release Me.” What’s cool about this is how the song seems to be a kind of emotional release for so many people around the world too. It’s got this anthem quality that brings so many people together.

With the process of collaborating with Taeyeon and their interpretation of Dear Me, we asked how this has impacted William’s life…

I wasn’t really involved that much, which is pretty much the way it is. Unless you’re also a celebrity status writer/producer, your involvement is pretty limited. I didn’t think too much of it. It was my first time. I didn’t even believe they were really going to release the song until it was actually out. One thing I like to point out is that despite changing most of the original lyrics in the translation process (which is totally standard in this side of the business) they still kept the “I love myself, I trust myself” from my original version, so I was happy with that, because those are the lyrics that pulled so many fans to the song. I think they resonated with Taeyeon on some level, too, which is cool. She said in an interview it’s her favourite song on the album, which is a pretty nice compliment. Overall, I’m happy with their interpretation of the song. Actually, the music you hear is my original version, so they kept things really true to my vision. Now I’ve just got to do better next time—no pressure!

We asked William what this project has taught him in terms of Hope an Perseverance…

The music business is absolutely insane and brutal. Without hope and perseverance (and tons of patience), doing what I did would have been entirely impossible. A lot of people think that once you’ve got a hit that you’ve got it made. That’s not true unfortunately. I haven’t even been paid yet, and might not until next year, and I still have the expectation on me to live up to the success of “Dear Me,” to do it again, without much of a budget, with very limited resources, and in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic and economic downturn. Somehow, I’m still working, and writing strong material, but it’s very hard. I won’t lie about that. So, it’s all about hope and perseverance, you could say. Nothing’s easy. I’m learning the importance of sacrifice. You can’t have it all. Sometimes you have to give up security and comfort and really suffer for a better future. It’s not easy, but for me, it’s still easier than quitting.

We asked William what kind of message of Hope would he want others to take from this experience…

Stick to what you’re doing and follow your gut. Commit to it, or don’t. Don’t sit on the fence. Do it, or don’t do it. If it feels right, just keep at it. Besides, once you go far enough with something, you’ll soon realize that turning back or changing direction is probably just as hard or harder than just pressing on. Just go, and don’t quit. These days, it feels like the world’s ending, but you should keep going anyway. It’s important to be ready for when life starts looking up. Stay focused and be patient. That’s the advice I give to myself, and I hope it’s helpful for other people too!

Stay tuned for more interviews in the Voices of Hope Series…

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