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Will goes his own way

Son of ELO and Wizzard keyboardist talks about new album, and the search for his own sound

09 February, 2017 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Will Hunt will release his album, Momentary Romance, later this year. He plays live at the Rose and Crown on March 11

WILL Hunt’s arrival in Camden to seek his fortune as a musician probably doesn’t mirror many of the young hopefuls who inevitably turn up here knocking on the doors of the borough’s many live music venues.

Hunt is the son of ELO and Wizzard keyboardist Bill Hunt and cousin to The Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt. Growing up in Worcestershire, to a rock ’n’ roll family, he found himself surrounded by Birmingham rock royalty, with Robert Plant, The Osbournes and Steve Winwood counted as family friends.

“Being a musician was just normal – growing up with my dad being in ELO and Wizzard, some of my earliest memories were going to my cousin’s concerts where he was filling football stadiums,” said Will.

“It was just in my genes. My sister was older and was made to do piano lessons and hated it. I was the ankle-biter wanting to get into it. Music has been the thing I always wanted to do as I wasn’t good at anything else.”

Still in his teens, Will would travel to London to play wherever he could.

He said: “I’d always been in bands in and around the Midlands, rehearsing at various school village halls. I used to play at Ronnie Scott’s, when I was 15 or 16. I started meeting other musicians that had moved to London.”

Naturally, he chose to try to make it as a singer-songwriter.

“It was really a spur of the moment decision. It’s not where you went for a record deal, it’s where you meet other like-minded people to jam. I made the decision at the beginning of the week and I moved at the end of the week – to Kentish Town.” It didn’t take long for him to make good contacts.

“There was one night called Soundbites at the Abbey Tavern. We’d all go down – me, Ed Sheeran, Nick Mulvey, Mr Hudson, we all started there. Our friend Radha, who used to run it, did a really good job. We’d go in with a demo and, if she liked it, she’d book us – it was acoustic. The more drunk we got, the more people got onstage. At one point we had Sting on stage with us, his daughter Coco used to play there – it was a real mix of lovely musicians and people.”

At the same time, Will started experiencing the London club scene, visiting Turnmills, The End and Fabric, which began to influence his work.

He said: “I started writing electronic music because I wanted to do something other than the singer-songwriter stuff that I’d been doing, so I started making electronic music. My manager said, ‘why don’t you do this live?’, so I did.”

Within a short time, he was signed to Sony/ Colombia Records under the name Dansette Junior.

“It wasn’t the music that I enjoyed doing,” said Will. “I got pushed and shoved into this deal of music that I hated.”

Freed from the constraints of his contract, Will abandoned the electro scene and turned back to his own songwriting.

He said: “My songs are narrative. I listen to Tom Waits, Chet Baker, The Divine Comedy, you get drawn into the song, it’s like a book and I wasn’t able to do anything like that. Dance music was fun but it didn’t fill your soul with goodness, it didn’t give you the feeling of fulfilment that a good song does for me.”

Now, he has written and produced his own album, Momentary Romance, due out later this year. He will be playing songs from it, alongside Kentish Carousel, at the Rose and Crown, Torriano Avenue on March 11.

He said: “I had a fantastic lawyer that got me out of the deal and since then I’ve recognised that the ability to control your own destiny with less money is a lot more fulfilling. I’ve made a record that I’m proud of, can speak honestly about and know inside and out.”

And the wisdom he has carried with him from his musician father?

“The best thing my dad said to me was, ‘don’t believe a word until the cheque is cashed’,” added Will.

“It’s true because in the music industry so many people can blow smoke and scratch each other’s backs. Don’t go into it with a negative attitude but also be open-minded about the consequences.”

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