Known for his honesty and funky beats Will Web has been with such labels as Direct Beat and Drop Bass, finally finding a home with Astralwerks Records out of New York City and London. Being part of the first wave, the ex “Mr. Bill’s” knowledge of Detroit is first hand, making the time spent with him not only an interesting interview, but also a very educational one.
So what else do you listen to besides electronic based music?
Everything but country. I’ve grown up listening to just about everything- a lot of jazz… a lot of funk… a lot of experimental weird stuff. I’m really not into mainstream, I’ve never liked pop music…anything besides country I’ll give a chance.
Did you ever want to do anything else besides music?
Yeah I wanted to be a photographer a long time ago… those dreams came to a sudden end when they dropped the program at Michigan State.
Are there any perks to being a DJ and a producer?
There really are no perks- I get to do what I want instead of wearing a suit and tie… that’s the only thing right about now. We’ll see in the future, who knows… I’m still broke.
You’ve been around for a while, so how would you compare the ‘old’ Detroit to what’s going on right now?
Actually, what I see going on right now is getting back to the ways of how the ‘old’ Detroit used to be. It used to be that everyone went to parties to dance and sweat and have a few drinks and pick up some girls and have a good time. Then it just turned into a big drug scene for a few years. Now it seems to be FINALLY getting back to where people are actually into the music again and they go out and to have a good time… have a few drinks, a 40oz or whatever and dance. Girls are starting to look like girls again, they aren’t wearing boys clothes anymore… it’s getting back to normal. You can see it especially when you go to other places and these kids are all drugged out, they aren’t there for the music they’re just there for the drugs… and they don’t give a shit about the music, they just want to take as many drugs as they can and pass out. Whereas Detroit is getting away from that- it seems that the younger kids that came up are starting to get more and more educated about the music.
Then on that note, how do you feel about people charging $20+ for parties?
Well, it depends on who is on the bill. If you have to bring in other names from other countries I can see that. BUT, if you’re charging 20 bucks for some promoter, and it’s him and his 5 friends spinning and they are all from the Detroit area… that’s a bunch of bullshit. None of those guys are going to be worth seeing for 20 bucks, unless you are getting a cup at the door so you can drink for free all night.
In the past you’ve been mainly known for making ghetto beat tracks… but lately you’ve been known for going into the breakbeat side of things.
I don’t know if I’d say breakbeat… I’m trying to take the elements of electro and move it into a different direction. Breakbeats are OK, and they have their place, but they will never have their place in Detroit- they just don’t work here. I’m a big junglehead, always have been- I’ve been playing jungle for years and years. I can see some of the elements of jungle going into what I’m doing now. I’m just trying to take it to a different level, you can’t make ghetto bass tracks forever… it gets old. There’s a million ghetto bass tracks out there, most of them are sample oriented. I like that, but you’ve got to be able to make music too. That’s one thing that electro got caught up on, is not being able to progress into another form. The European guys are trying to do it but a lot of the times they just don’t have the funk elements in it- it’s good electro, but there’s not really any soulful funk in it. I’m trying to melt the techno aspect and the bass aspect back together and take it to a different level.
Ghetto bass has been known to be more popular in black clubs, but lately there’s been a demand for it in largely white populated ones. Do you have a theory on that?
It all came out of the black clubs, but even from its start back in the 80’s it was played in both black and white clubs. Especially in the Detroit area it’s always been in mainstream clubs. I can remember when I was 12 or 13 years old listening to it in little clubs when Scott Gordon was spinning it WAY back in the day. It was all electro and bass and it was a predominately white crowd. The white crowd probably listens to bass just as much as the black crowd, it’s always been there and probably always will be.
Is there anyone in the Detroit community that you’ve always respected and admired?
Musically I’ve respected Juan [Atkins]… he’s a genius, he is always thinking. Same thing with Carl Craig… I really like Carl’s new stuff. I’ve always liked his psyche and BFC stuff. Sean Deason is doing some interesting stuff.. same with Alan Oldham [DJT1000]. UR stuff is always great- I always like the direction they take. The Drexciya and Ectomorph stuff is good- they’re all people who I listen to and play on a regular basis, classics and new stuff. They are all great artists in my book. Some up and coming guys are doing more what I want to play and listen to in the future, but right now they are just hovering there, they haven’t gotten to the next level of producing stuff that I would want to use. I’ve always got respect for the old school- Juan and Rick Davies when they were doing the Cybertron stuff. That stuff was incredible monumental music… and a lot of the early stuff on KMS, though Kevin hasn’t done anything in awhile.
What has to be in a track for you to use it?
It has to be funky, I don’t do that experimental stuff like Goa trance or none of that kind of crap. I like stuff that’s dancefloor oriented and soulful and funky.
What do you think makes a ‘good DJ’?
First and foremost, just skills on the turntables. Knowing what to play and when to play it, knowing how to read your crowd. A lot of people nowadays just get up there and throw on record after record after record, not caring what the crowd is doing, not really worried about how the crowd is reacting, they just play their set of what they want to play. They don’t even take into consideration the crowd that they are playing to. To be a good DJ you got to watch Jeff Mills once… right there that’s the total package. He knows how to play to the crowd. He’s playing what he wants to play but knows when and how to play it, what tricks to do, and at what time… he knows how to build energy and break it back down. Or Claude [Young] or Shake- any of the people who really know how to spin records. You’ve got a lot of people who just mix records and they play what they want to play, they play eight minutes of a song and mix out on the break. To me that’s not a real DJ, that’s not working with the vinyl and turning it into something else, that’s not creative enough… I find it rather boring actually. I want to see somebody doing something on the tables. I want to see somebody sweat… DJ’ing is fun but it’s also a job.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully with my bills paid off and a car…. that would be nice.