Austin Willacy: Bringing Hope Through Music With ‘Gonna Be Alright’

Welcome my music fam! Brace yourselves for the best energy that descends from Austin Willacy himself. This singers’s new EP titled “Gonna Be Alright” is just purely what we need right now which is motivating and truth be told uplifting songs to keep us happy always.

For the past twenty years, Willacy has been dropping pure musical magic and we are glad about that. He went from harmonizing with his dad on the recorder years ago to playing along with legends on huge stages, and his story could not be more of an epic. Not only that, but what I like most about his latest work is the authenticity and warmth to it.

Every tune on “Gonna Be Alright” brings as if it’s Willacy making the music with you, and making physical contact, you know what I mean. With their catchy tunes and powerful message, they invite you to take an amazing journey through self-love and resilience. It’s sort of an album you put on when you need a little reminder that, in spite of all the mess that is going on, in the end everything will be okay.

This interview showcases the man himself and the mind behind this musical ray of sunrays. We’re talking about creativity behind the songs, stories from the roads, and the whole idea. Strap in and let’s run to Willacy’s musical world all at once.

Whether you have been a loyal fan for long or just awakened to his sound, you must give “Gonna Be Alright” a try. This EP serves as a soundtrack for life with its heady beats and you’ll end up rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.Let’s dive in!

Listen to Gonna Be Alright below

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What is your stage name? 

Austin Willacy

Is there a story behind your stage name?

“Austin” is my first name.  My parents called me “Keith”–my middle name–when I was growing up. I always loved my dad’s signature, and modeled mine after his, with a flamboyant “A” before my middle and last names.  A lot of people asked me what the “A” stands for and asked if they could call me “Austin”.

I’ve always liked the name and always said “sure”. 90% of those people forgot and continued calling me “Keith”.  One of the 10% happened to be the guy who introduced me onstage for a while. He introduced me by my full name, but people started calling me “Austin”, and I liked it.

Where do you find inspiration?

Sometimes I find inspiration in a word or a phrase. Sometimes I’m moved to write something I read about in the news or by a character in a book I’m reading or a movie I’ve seen.  Sometimes I find it when I’m goofing around. Often, I find it when I’m playing guitar and make a compelling mistake. I’ll mess up and then be like “Ooh! That’s cool!”

Then, I just keep asking myself “What comes next?!” I try to follow that initial spark of creation as far as it lights the way. As I’ve gotten more into music production over the past few years I’ve started to find inspiration in beats and textures that tickle my imagination and make me wonder “What comes next?!”

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?

My earliest musical memory is playing recorder duets with my dad. There was something incredibly sweet about that. I feel like I can still kinda remember the melody of my part–the higher part. After recorder, I took piano lessons for 5 years and played clarinet for a year and sax for 4 years before I quit. After a point, I fell out of love with the music my teacher was having me play.  She wanted me to focus on more traditional music and I wanted to play songs I’d heard on the radio. I didn’t want to practice, and that was that. I never had that sweet, warm feeling I got from the recorder duet when I was playing anything else.

My parents listened to a lot of great music, Motown, Bill Withers, Earth, Wind & Fire, blues, and Stevie Wonder. There was always music playing in the car, and when we’d have family game nights. I heard different music at some of my friends’ houses and loved a lot of it. My ears were wide open.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?

Yes, and no. My mom loves theater and museums, and both of my parents love music. I grew up hearing them sing along with their favorite songs and seeing them dance at parties or when they loved the song that was playing. My dad even had a short-lived band in college, King Bee & the Yellowjackets. He was King Bee.  They loved music and knew that knowing how to play and read music would help me be a better rounded person. I don’t think either one of them had any idea that I would fall in love with music so deeply.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?

There wasn’t any one person. I joined a band that had a lot of gigs. In the middle of one of our tours, we had a gig at The Bitter End in NY.  Kenny Gorka was kind enough to let us know there would be some industry peeps in the house that night. We did a killer show and wound up the subject of a minor bidding war.  We got signed to a major label and suddenly, I was in the music industry. I had spent zero time thinking about it before that all happened.

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?

Because I played instruments so young I feel like I’ve always been familiar with the architecture for some of the basics of pitch, rhythm, and harmony, but I didn’t study it when I was a kid.  I’d officially quit making music the summer before 10th grade. But 2 years later, I got pressured into joining the school chorus by a girl I had a huge crush on.

I didn’t want to suck, so I sang a lot during the summer before senior year. In choir, I got put in an octet to sing a barbershop song and was completely floored by what was possible with just 8 voices and 4 parts. I went to college and got into an a cappella group that rehearsed 6-7 hours a week.

And suddenly, though I’d only been singing for a year and a half, my range grew rapidly and I started exploring my voice.  I’ve never taken voice lessons, so I guess you could say I’m self-taught, however; I’ve spent a lot of time around very talented singers and tried to absorb as much as I could from them.

Every now and then, I’d be moved and I’d write a song, usually for my girlfriend, but I didn’t consider myself a songwriter.

I was inspired enough by my experience in the a cappella group that I took music theory so I could learn to arrange music for us to perform.  It was here that I was able to concretize a lot of the stuff I’d been exposed to as a kid that I understood on an instinctual level.

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I was inspired enough by my experience in the a cappella group that I took music theory so I could learn to arrange music for us to perform.

Singing in the a cappella group eventually led me to sing in bands. Because I wanted more agency, and more power in determining the repertoire, I started playing bass. I took 2 months of bass lessons in Cleveland and started writing a LOT when I went back to college.  Suddenly, riffs and chord progressions and melodies and lyrics were just kinda flying out of me.

When I decided to take my writing seriously I dissected my lyrics and decided they were too literal and analytical and set about liberating my lyrics. I spent my lunch breaks working and reworking my lyrics and my evenings singing and playing bass for 2-5 hours.

Eventually, when I started touring in an a cappella group, I switched to acoustic guitar so I could have more harmonic information to work with in my writing, and because basses are heavy AF and I didn’t want to lug an amp, too.  I’m self-taught on guitar, but I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time around some excellent acoustic guitar players who opened my mind to how much was possible.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?

I saw James Brown! He almost never stopped moving. He was a whirling dervish of funk and soul. He shrieked and keened and hollered and begged and testified and sweated and sweated and danced and danced and it was INCREDIBLE! Thanks Dad!

How could you describe your music?

I love a lot of different genres of music. Usually, the music that seems to want to come out of me blends rock, pop, blues, and soul. The messages I express in my music are often about empowerment, hope, dignity, self- acceptance, love, and interdependence. Sometimes I share interpersonal observations or offer broader cultural reflections.  Depending on the nature of what I’m expressing, both lyrically and energetically, I’m drawn to lean more or less heavily into a genre and follow the inexorable pull as far as it takes me. As often as possible, I want my music to actively support whoever chooses to sing the lyrics.

Describe your creative process.

I try to start with whatever is pulling on my attention the hardest. Sometimes it’s a lyric or a lyric attached to a piece of a melody. Sometimes I’m playing guitar and a riff or a chord progression finds me. I do my best  to keep listening to whatever wants to come.  I love that feeling of being pulled and getting into a flow state. Time disappears and it’s just Yes/And…I follow that pull as far as it’ll take me. I’ve learned to honor the powerful  singularity of that moment of genesis; I have to tune in to it in that moment or else I can almost never find it again, which can be incredibly disappointing.  That moment is almost like a glowing power up in a video game that’s only active for a certain period of time.  I always try to let each of my modes of expression inform each other, in real time. So, I may start with a lyric and then jump to a chord progression which leads me to a bassline which leads me to a drum groove which suddenly liberates a melody with more words.  As I’ve gotten more into music production, I’ve been able to draw inspiration from a broader spectrum of sources. There are more voices I get to listen to in this “conversation.” (Laughs) And now I recognize how frickin’ weird  all of this might sound. Oh well!

What is your main inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from people in my life who I love deeply. Sometimes familial-ly, sometimes romantically, sometimes friends who’re going through something that inspire me to whom I want to offer extra support. I’m also inspired by the beauty and the ugliness of the times in which we live and the fact that so many people in the world have so much and are persuaded to believe we have so little, that we are so little…I guess a lot of what inspires me is trying to create space for healing and reconnection, for/with myself and for/with others.

What musician do you admire most and why?

I have a HUGE amount of admiration for Bruno Mars. He does it all. He plays, sings, and dances his ass off. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.He writes incredible songs for himself and for/with others. Even after he became a superstar, he was still willing to do great music written by others. He created a whole new project with Anderson Paak based on a joke they shared on tour. He’s able to pay tribute to his influences without ever losing the powerful originality of his own voice.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?

I don’t know that my style has evolved so much since the beginning of my career. My first album is pretty eclectic, and I still write songs I love and variety of genres. That said, I feel more confident tightening the parameters of what I’m writing when I want to.  I also feel confident owning the diversity of musical expressions that comes through me at others. I’ve also learned to not take myself so seriously; the fate of the world does not hinge on the lyrics, the mix or the chord progression of anything I’ve ever worked on. So I can’t necessarily say my style has evolved, but i guess I can say I have.

Who do you see as your main competitor?

Interesting question. I don’t think of any person as competition. I think it ultimately all boils down to access. Right now, the most daunting competitor is the overwhelming volume of content that’s readily available at a moment’s notice. And all of it is vying for attention from people who have limited time and who have devices of infinite distraction on–or near–their person, almost all the time.  Some artists have access to millions of people. Most of us don’t.

What are your interests outside of music?

I love travel. I love strategy games and word games. I love falling into one-on-one conversations where It feels like time stops. I love cooking with friends. I love going out for great food. I love dancing to great live music and old school hip hop. I love playing with kids. Somehow, no matter where I go, they all seem to want to jump on me! I love reading and listening to well narrated audio books. I love going to movies.


If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a musician I would either be an actor, photographer, or filmmaker. Much to my parents’ chagrin, those are also unlikely to be lucrative. (Laughs)

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?

I chose “Gonna Be Alright” as the title of my EP because–in addition to being the title of a song the EP that I adore–it ties together the themes of all of the songs on the EP.  .

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans?

I do! One of the things I love about where I am as an artist is that my engineering and production skills make it possible for me to collaborate with artists in a lot of different genres.  I have a handful of people I collaborate on a regular basis, and I just met some amazing artists at the Durango Songwriters Expo that I can’t wait to work with!

What message would you like to give to your fans?

Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and for sharing my music with those who are dear to you. Having an audience is a privilege, not a right.  Thank you for honoring me with your attention.


Mister Styx
Mister Styx
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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