Basement-musician Hal Williams isn’t even 20 years old, but you wouldn’t know it from his ever-growing catalog. The Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, Nobody Really Knows associate has already put out a pair of electro-funk-rap albums with Matt Martians as the Jet Age of Tomorrow. And on Nov. 21, Williams dropped his most fully realized effort to date under the guise of Pyramid Vritra, a rapper-singer-multi-instrumentalist hybrid with roots in funk, soul, jazz, hip-hop, and damn near everything else.
Yet, even with all these varied sounds, Williams keeps his songs (or thoughts, as he calls them) structured in a cohesive manner. In an ongoing e-mail chain, the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Illinois musician discussed what’s next for him, the NRK crew, Jet Age, and more. Quite the workload for a dude who only started making music about four years ago as a hobby.
Regarding the new album, what instruments and hardware did you use recording it?
Ableton Live 8, a lot of software synths, random sounds from around the house and outside and me. Pyramid Murdock also co-produced a few songs with me, then it was all recorded at random locations in Georgia and California with my mxl900 and Macbook pro.
What made you decide to start messing with synths and keys instead of samples and whatnot?
I know how to do all of that stuff and have before, I just don’t find sampling as fun as creating things from scratch. When I make a song, the sounds that get used are the sounds that feel right. Samples haven’t felt right in a while, and the point is to make music that others sample after you’re gone. Classic shit. I’m not even there yet. But when I do get there, it’s over.
There are so many different sounds and styles on here, which makes me have to ask: what were listening to making this?
I originally made most of this album last year so more than likely it was a bit of Gary Wilson, Machinedrum, Dam-Funk, James Pants, the Streets, Mellowhype, Ace, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Bjork, Kit Ream, Matt, Kelis, Outkast, 311, Incubus, random shit.
You have a pair of lengthy, movement-based tracks. What was the reasoning beyond having those and then more “normal” track lengths?
I don’t end tracks until they feel complete, rather it takes two minutes or 19. Each song is a thought. Incomplete songs are like incomplete sentences to me.
Is this a one-off solo project? I thought I saw you tweeting about that.
This re-release and my album Pyramid sometime next year will be my only solo projects. I have a lot of other projects in store though, so I won’t completely disappear.
What’s behind the decision to only do these two solo albums?
[The Story of] Marsha [Lotus], is the LP I have out now, is a revisited remastered and re-release. Pyramid is my first full album. I released a prelude album to Pyramid, called Pyramidvritra, that dropped on 11/11/11. The concept behind the album is that it cannot end but can only be halted or resumed. The goal, over time, in around 10 years, is for it to be a fragmented collection of my life’s work. I’ll have albums. But they will be few and may be many years apart. I’m a producer and collaborator at heart so my main focus (other than a few side projects for next year) is production, and always has been. About to be a super-producer in 5 or 6 years and get this money. Watch.
I remember seeing that you and Matt have been working on that Kilo Kish project. How’s that coming along and what can we expect from it?
Most of it is done actually. She just has to record a few more things. Kish and Matt are brilliant. There’s something for everyone on there. I don’t know when it’s being released just yet but when it does drop, it’s over. Kish is perfect for this, she doesn’t even realize.
Do you have other artist-specific projects in the works like Kilo Kish?
Remixes, Vince Staples, Mike G, The Internet, Andre McCloud and a lot more. A few side projects. You’ll hear alot from me next year.
Speaking of collaborations, how was it recording with Quadron? I know you guys are huge fans, but beyond that, what are you all working on together?
Robin [Hannibal] and Coco [O.] are amazing. I could honestly just sit there and watch them create. They’re both really nice. We had fun times. Coco is on my album Pyramid and the collab they did with Matt and Syd is insane. This is just the beginning.
What’s next for Jet Age of Tomorrow?
Mostly production this year and next. Possibly a new Jet Age album late next year.
What’s next for you and the guys in NRK? And how did you get involved with them?
NRK is finishing up and releasing a lot of projects next year. It’s amazing how much everyone has grown. I can’t even listen to the stuff that we have out now. We’re always working. What I’m listening to now may not be out for a year. We all met in high school, and it went from there, we all understood each other, everyone was on the same page.