Relics of the Past

Interview with Willie Burns

Relics of the Past

27-11-2014 | 10.01

On Saturday, William Burnett will be taking over De Verdieping under his Willie Burns moniker during Imprint & Proper’s Cult. He is infamous for his understated and friendly character, and has put out a number of head-turning releases over the past four or five years. His collaborations include a long-standing relationship with Danny Wolfers (Legowelt), and even with Krysten Ritter (famous for playing Jesse Pinkman’s love affair in Breaking Bad). His work with Legowelt has recently culminated with the release of a Bizarre online TV show ‘Relics of the Past’, where they have jointly composed the soundtrack. He agreed to answer a few questions for us ahead of his DJ set on Saturday, and despite being over email; we still managed to get a taste of that distinctive persona.

Hello there Willie, it’s really nice to meet you. Having taken a look through the extensive amount of interviews with you online, I have found it pretty tough to think of questions that are new and original. There must still be things about you that people haven’t taken notice of or you haven’t mentioned. For those people who don’t know you that well, how can you sum up William Burnett in a couple of sentences? For those that think they know you well, what have they not noticed about you that they should watch out for?
"Haha, you mean I have to do my own set up and introduction? That's clever of you. My name is William Burnett and I like to make music, listen to music and learn about music. My favorite place is my studio. I got several solo musical aliases and a lot of collaboration projects. I also DJ around a lot and do a weekly radio show when I’m around."

"I’m not sure what they should watch out for as I never know myself. I’m just gonna keep on trying to finally make a good record."

As you said, you produce music across a number of aliases, and have even made music in a number of collaborations. Do you ever feel like you would like to focus more attention on one project? Or do you feel that would prevent you from expressing yourself as diversely as you would like to?
"For me it's just fun to hang out with my friends and work on music, everyone brings something different. I haven’t really thought about concentrating on one more that another, I don’t have to. I can do all of them. That is the beauty of it. I’ve almost started to think about it as jazz. Just going around and having sessions with other people. Each one is different and each is a moment to remember and learn from."

So are there any releases coming up that you feel the Trouw crowd should particularly watch out for? You’ll be glad to know Black Deer – Apex break made number 25 on our ‘2013 in 30 tracks’.
"I don’t know if I got any club bangers this year. I got so much coming that I can’t really remember. The Will and Florian record should be out any day now, and I got some remixes bubbling up. I really have no idea, I guess I need to make some more Black Deer stuff and I’ll probably do more Phobian stuff that will be more club style."

I read on your RA piece ‘Sink or Swim’, that you were feeling at somewhat of a crossroads in 2013, as to whether or not you would focus solely on music, or take less of a risk and stick with your ‘more cosy’ routine. Has your mind become clearer about this yet? Do you know the next direction for yourself, your music and your career?
"Yeah, it’s a little more clear now. I’m definitely leaning more to the artist lifestyle. Hopefully NYC is good to me in the next few years and I’ll be able to do it. My next direction is more touring and more records. I also want to take the video thing more seriously. (I just started a little series called Relics of the Past). All I know is that I want to wake up in the morning and work on things that I want to do and if this can sustain me then I’m happy."

In your head-to-head with DJ TLR back in March, it was mentioned that you once studied astrophysics. The Rosetta mission recently triumphed by landing a space probe on a comet. How does this make you feel? Do you still hold an interest or love for science, and does that in turn have any influence on your musical productions?
"Haha, I watched all that stuff on the Internet. I don’t have a degree in that or anything; just a few years in college of it before I quit. I thought it was pretty exciting that a team like that could hit something that precisely. It’s pretty inspiring. People sit around and act like the earth is gonna be here forever: it’s not. If we want to stick around as human beings, we need to take steps like this to find a place to move."

"I don’t know if it has an influence on my musis, but I think about this kind of stuff. I pretty much only read science fiction books and watch science fiction movies. It will probably effect the short movies more than anything and then I guess we gotta make sound tracks, so maybe in a way it will."

Emotions are running high as Trouw quickly approaches the end of its time. If you could choose a song to signify the emotions of things coming to an end and thus new beginnings, what would it be? (Except Pachanga Boys – Time)
"I don’t know Pachanga Boys – Time, I’m gonna YouTube it haha. I don’t really have this emotional connection with Trouw that a lot of people do. I’ve only been there twice. The nicest time was when I crashed an artist dinner and had some good conversations. The only song that pops into my head is Cindy Lauper – ‘Time After Time’, but that’s a terrible suggestion. Let me think of a good one… maybe a classic Italo slow jam like Savage – ‘A Love Again’ (special remix)."

Text: Ben Rogerson