Interview | Will Varley

By Kieran Webber

Singer/songwriters come and go but few stand out as much as Will Varley. In today’s music industry where artists rotate quickly it is refreshing to have an artist such as Will around, his music will always be relevant and memorable due to his pure passion and skill in writing music.

It’s been a slow and steady rise to the top. Initially starting at open mike nights, he’s released three albums to date his latest being ‘Postcards from Ursa Minor’  which was produced by Tristan Ivemy and mastered at Abbey Road by Frank Arkwright (Arcade Fire, Blur).

Will Varley will be heading out on a headline tour in February with 17 UK dates up and down the country culminating in his biggest headline show to date at London’s Scala on 10th March. One of his stops will be at Mono, Falmouth so naturally we wanted to catch up with him before his show in Cornwall. 


Your music crosses into political territory was this something that you decided to happen or was it natural ?

Well I just write songs about whatever happens to be on my mind, If an image gets stuck in my head or I can’t stop thinking about something or other. Sometimes that involves newspaper articles or political elements, other times it involves the speed of a train or the colour of a table cloth.

Why do you feel people have lost faith in politics?

I don’t think people have ever had faith in their leaders. I think people are just more empowered and able to express themselves more these days, which is a very good thing.

Why do you feel that music can act as such a powerful tool to raise awareness against politicians and politics ?

I don’t know. Songs can provide a soundtrack and record a moment in a way that other mediums cannot, whether they are the tool for change themselves who knows? I don’t know how much songs have changed things over the years. I think real change comes from people working together, or individuals doing incredible things. I hope music has some power to help that happen, but I can’t be sure.

“The seagulls in Cornwall are the most vicious in the country. I once had a ham sandwich stolen from me by one while I was standing on the quay in Falmouth”

At what point did you know you wanted to be a folk musician ?

I still don’t know! I’d like to make films, and go into space. I’d like to be involved in science somehow, and maybe write more novels. Having said that, I remember seeing John Otway play at a festival when I was about 8 years old and thinking “I’d like to do that some day”

What or who was your biggest infuence when it comes to your music?

Probably my dad playing records in the car when I was a kid. He used to play Neil Young, Dylan, The Byrds, Billy Bragg, The Stones, Penguin Cafe. All that stuff sunk into me before I knew what it meant. I started to become interested in songs after that and poetry.

Do you yourself have any idols?

Eddie Cochran, Stuart Sutcliffe and Simon Jeffes. Unfortunately they’re all dead.

I would argue that you are probably one of the strongest songwriters around at the moment but what is your process when writing your music?

That’s very kind of you to say. In terms of my process, I honestly wish I knew. There’s no rhyme or reason, which is annoying for me because it makes planning ahead a nightmare. Songs seem to fall out of my mind of their own accord like drunks out of a nightclub. I can sit at my desk all day long writing and get nothing. Next day I’m on a bus looking out of the window and suddenly I write out a song on a napkin in 10 minutes. It’s weird.

“If I make films I’d like to work with Robert DeNero. I think I’ve got more chance of winning the lottery than that happening though. And I don’t play the lottery”

You’ve described playing live and recording as ‘Two different animals’ but which one do you prefer taming?

I like them both for different reasons. Making a record is an interesting process and it’s very rewarding to produce something tangible. Playing live is the the raw version of the song, and involves a lot of travelling.

Do you have a particular song of your own that you feel stands out from the rest, if so what one and why?

Not really. Once I’ve written a song it’s not mine anymore and I don’t think too much about what I like more or less. I’m more interested in writing new songs…

Are there any artist you would like to collab with (dead or alive) if so who and why?

I’ve never enjoyed writing songs with other people, I find it a frustrating enough process on my own! Having said that, I’d love to work with lots of people from a recording perspective. If I make films I’d like to work with Robert DeNero. I think I’ve got more chance of winning the lottery than that happening though. And I don’t play the lottery.

“Once I’ve written a song it’s not mine anymore”

Are you looking forward to your show in Falmouth, Cornwall?

Yes, I love Cornwall and I’ve heard great things about Mono.

The UK is a diverse and interesting place with each county having its own uniqueness what in your eyes is Cornwalls?

The seagulls in Cornwall are the most vicious in the country. I once had a ham sandwich stolen from me by one while I was standing on the quay in Falmouth.

What is planned for 2016 ?

There’s already tonnes of gigs booked in right up until December, so that’ll keep me busy. I’ll try to do some writing and see if I get enough time to get something recorded.


Kieran Webber

Journalism graduate based in Newquay, Cornwall. My project Clunk Magazine covers surf, Music, Art, skate and Lifestyle. In time we hope to integrate with as many artistic and creative people as possible making an online hub for creativeness, surfing and lifestyle, something I feel that accompanies the other.

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