We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Vincent Waller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
MVW has a new album CLASSIC$ out October 8th, featuring Valee, Lil Gotit, Duke Deuce, Jaydonclover, and Shanique Marie, co-produced with Lex Luger. We’ve shared our conversation with him about overall inspirations as he gears up for this milestone release.
Hi Michael, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking a risk, is often something you hear about, but don’t know what it actually means. I feel a lot artists might express that sentiment: “This project was all about taking risks…” but, in reality they are exploring a predicable variation within their own comfort zone, or established ‘voice’. I think that concept of one’s voice is the biggest risk that one can take. But once taken, formulated, and even branded, it can become a ‘standard’ or what is expected. Although, important to note, that despite these growing expectations, when one’s art is naturally expressed — it often seems to come from within, organic to one’s own inner experiences and perspective. This is a genesis for great art.
I think I have felt really uncomfortable about a decision in the direction of my music at two distinct times. 2012 was the first time, when I started gravitating towards melodic music, and using melody as force to drive immediacy and transparency, to regain and vitalize this emotional subtlety (within the realm of minimalism and avant-garde / new classical music). Before this time, I was doing more abstract drone, microtonal, durational studies, in the lineage of my teacher (around that time) La Monte Young. I remember feeling very nervous and anxious about what those who knew my work might think, and even the challenges in the general aesthetic attitude of the experimental music community. I felt like I was extremely vulnerable, and might be alone.
I think that vulnerability is key, it really reveals a certain intimacy within the work and the process, which offers that back to others in how they can experience it.
Now in retrospect, I’m extremely grateful that I chose to pursue that direction, which I feel truly inspired by, and that was intuitively coming ‘out of me’. Soon after this decision to shift into a different direction, I felt so much more in-tune with ‘what I wanted’, and not imitating or centering on what the trends or prevailing philosophies were suggesting.
The second time, I have felt extremely anxious about a directional shift is right now. This last year plus, I have been exploring this new path of coalescing everything I learned and developed in contemporary classical music, to push its boundaries into a more crossover form like hip-hop/trap. This process of exploring how instrumental classical music, specifically modern minimalism of the 21st century, can be sampled and also deeply infused into the core production and arrangement, song structures, and overall mood of a record; I believe this gives a unique feeling to both of these distinct genres.
That being said, albeit this new project gives me utter joy; I feel a sense of fear in this unknown, daunting pop commercialism driven landscape. But maybe this time now, I can see a connections to those hesitant days in 2012, of kind of flipping my musical world around, and how that nervousness can be channeled into passion. Almost like a feeling of manifesting a lifelong quest, with a dreamy sense of determination.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Almost, everything artistically for me, has been from manifesting. Literally, being in [that place], that I want to be. Whether it’s seeking out teachers, inspirations, new artists/producers, listening to that new record or experiencing a rare concert or meeting. Finding those like-minded inspired people to create with, and being inspired by them, has been core to my drive. I remember when I first graduated college, and started to explore the art world outside of those norms, I had to be at those places, and meet the people who were shaping the culture. I think that’s one of the biggest motivations for me, immersing oneself in the culture — whether that is the experimental downtown music scene of NYC in the 2010s, or to the epic proportions of the Hip-Hop pantheon / Trap world of today.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would probably take any friends to Melrose as exciting place to see new styles, and cultural melting pot. There are so many new pop-ups and inspired brands that I think that would be a perfect place to get that buzz of creativity. Then, maybe hit a taco truck, somewhere west, near Santa Monica, or up towards Woodland Hills. Then in the eve, I would probably would take them to a studio, as I’ve found some of the studios here in LA to have a life of their own, creating a vibe that truly helps stimulate ideas. Definitely, chop it up with some creatives!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife (and manager) Mia has all always been my muse, since we met, now over 10 years ago. She is the only who remains so close to me, knows all of my faults, and truly believes in me – while still motivating. When I was speaking about risk taking, and feeling uncomfortable in key changes in path, she is the one who is always is there to make sure I feel encouraged and poised. And, to really make sure I understand that this intuitive process with artistic conflicts has a higher purpose to connect and develop beauty for others to experience subjectively. She is a mirror to my world, and also, that best friend to help me see the depths in my own decisions.
Photos by: Tim Saccenti