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Getting to know: Windmills
Special to The Morning Star
Windmills is a singer/songwriter from Vernon. He has released two CDs to date. Between his powerful and unique voice and his amazing hair —yes, I’m drawing attention to this— he has grown a solid fan base over the years. Windmills keep moving!
Q: When did you first become interested in music?
A: “That’s a good one, simply because I have no real memory of it. I just know I’ve always found myself immersed in music from an early age. That said, I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 17, and the first time I sang in public was that same year for a school play. I was kind of thrown headfirst into the deep end when it came to performing, which is something I’m extremely happy about.”
Q: What made you decide to use Windmills as your stage name?
A: “I was sitting around with some friends one night talking about where outside of the Netherlands you find those traditional windmills. It wasn’t even a conversation related to music or me looking for a stage name. I just knew I wanted to use a name I could also conceive of as a persona. Who I am on stage versus off stage are very different, and I like that. But back to the conversation, my friend Michael Wafler mentioned ‘Windmills in Wisconsin’ and that phrasing really stuck out. It was this interesting tongue twister in a way. I found myself still musing on it a day or two later. I chose Windmills because it is something constantly in motion. It ties in very well with how I perform and the layers of sound I create.”
Q: What is your favourite song to perform live?
A: “It varies, I find. I will always get excited when I play new songs because they are the freshest, but there are also those all-time favourites that I never tire of playing. Right now my favourite song is a brand new one I introduced in the summer. It’s different than my other songs and I like that about it. It’s simple in one sense but also more technical and complex than my other songs. There’s an interesting balance there. But if I had to pick three they would be, Great Divide, Fire, and Things Fall Apart.
Q: Which one of your songs is most meaningful to you and why?
A: “I have a newer song called Her’s Place, which is the most personal song I’ve ever written. The title refers to this little cabin in Northern Ontario my family would summer in with the rest of my mom’s extended family. That song is me viciously trying to recapture those memories of youth that we take for granted. And maybe that’s pretentious in the fact I’m 25, but these memories shaped my childhood. They’re as much a part of me as anything else and I wanted to create something nostalgic to instill those feelings in anyone who would listen.
As a songwriter every song you write is directly related to you one way or another (even if it is just one line), and I find myself in all my songs, some more so than others.”
Q: Who is one of your biggest musical inspirations?
A: “John Frusciante is the reason I play guitar (he was the guitarist in Red Hot Chili Peppers.) Vocally, I take a lot of influence from the likes of Jeff Buckley because there is something very haunting behind his voice. Aidan Knight is a huge influence in that he is a close contemporary to my age, and I’d love to be able to perform and tour like he is currently. The influences are endless, as they should be, but these are the top three I guess.”
Q: How would you describe your musical sound?
A: “It ranges, but I think I’ve decided on ambient-folk, or post-rock, or experimental pop. I don’t know. My sound varies with each song, and it falls under a huge umbrella of genres and musical influence. I had a fan from Denver, Colorado message me saying he considered me an ambient-folk artist, and it was the first time I’d been able to really classify my noises and sounds.”
Q: If you were trapped on an island, what three things would you hope to have with you?
A: “My closest friends (and by default their three things for island living), anything written by bpNichol, and I guess a guitar (because it’s probably expected of me.)”
Q: What kinds of instruments do you play?
A: “I play guitar primarily and piano secondly. I can get by on bass, drums, tambourine. Way back when I took violin lessons but that didn’t take off.”
Q: What is the most memorable thing that you’ve signed for a fan?
A: “Oh boy... well, I can tell you I’ve signed iPhones, iPods, cell phone cases, camera cases, concert tickets, T-shirts, program guides, CDs, business cards and posters. It’s wild to think of, mostly because I have a tenible signature.”
Q: Do you have any quotes or sayings that inspire you or your music?
A: “My personal philosophy and Windmills’ philosophy is ‘Windmills keep moving,’ and I think that one carries over nicely. I’m constantly pushing myself to move forward and progress because if I’m not no one else will, and then what’s the point? I’m also particular of a bpNichol passage that reads: ‘Reality’s a noun. Not simply the awareness nothing’s there.’ I have ‘reality’s a noun’ tattooed on me. I love that line, so often we get caught up when dreaming and scheming big by others who step up and give us a reality check, but what does that truly mean? Reality is what each individual makes of it, and in its simplest form it is just a noun. I love language and the tricks it can play on us. This is one of those quotes that does that while inspiring me to keep reaching for crazier and crazier goals.”
Q: What is the largest crowd that you’ve performed for?
A: “There’s been a few huge ones, notably last year opening for Andrew Allen. The second of two nights was sold out at 750 people and the first night there was around 550 in attendance. This summer I played in Edmonton for Taste of Edmonton 2013 for another huge crowd, and last year I opened for Hey Ocean at UBCO for around 600 people, which is terrifying when I actually think about it.”
Q: Have you ever had any funny/crazy fan encounters?
A: “I’ve had a few really awkward ones (mainly for me because I’m extremely shy and awkward.) I walked in to Seaton (Secondary)School one day for a meeting on a musical project this past year and a group of girls followed me down the halls before finally asking if I was Windmills.
In a grocery store, two girls were audibly whispering if it was Windmills or not in the line beside them... I’ve been recognized in movie theatres, restaurants, and even on the street. It’s truly remarkable.”
Ed note: a few fans will be flocking to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre tonight to see the Home for the Holidays concert headlined by fellow Vernonite Andrew Allen. Windmills is lined up as a special guest at the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m., as is other local talent. A few tickets are left and can be purchased at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.