We had the good fortune of connecting with Will Carpenter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Will, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I like to refer to myself as a ‘calculated risk taker’. Obviously risk is necessary in order to be an entrepreneur of any kind, but I personally try to find ways to minimize those risks as best I can. Being a musician, and pursuing a career as an artist, producer and songwriter is definitely on the riskier side of the spectrum as far as careers go, but I’ve been able to balance that aspect of my life with other types of professional pursuits that tend to be more stable…and by following ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ in parallel I feel that largely the uncertainty that comes with a purely creative career has been nicely mitigated.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My main focus as a Songwriter, Producer and Musician is my artist project Ships Have Sailed, which consists of myself and my drummer Art. The genre is Indie Rock, but we often lean towards Pop as well. With Ships Have Sailed, I write specifically from my own personal story, or occasionally pulling from things I see in the world, but always with the intention that these songs must be felt deeply. Oftentimes, something that sounds a bit surfacy will take on a much deeper meaning if you listen a bit closer to the lyrics and the emotion in the vocal, and I have a rule that we don’t release a song until it has somehow found its place in our story. For example, our recent single ‘Rise’ was finished for over a year before we released it. When it was written, it was screaming to be created, but upon finishing the production I really didn’t see where it should live in our world. Then, in March we were out on tour right when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated…things went sideways really quick and most of our tour wound up being canceled. While making our way back to Los Angeles, and trying to make the most of the situation, the first verse of ‘Rise’ popped randomly into my head, and I realized that the song belonged in this moment with us, and the first thing I did upon returning to LA was to schedule its release.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start in my neighborhood of Silverlake, there’s an amazing little restaurant called Blair’s that my wife and I love, and it’s perfect for a laid back glass of wine, homey vibe and delicious food (along with super friendly service) to kind of settle in on a first night in town. After that, it kind of depends on the friend…if they’re artsy, LA has incredible museums…if they’re outdoorsy, Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon, Malibu and Topanga have amazing hikes. Beaches are a must: Venice for the boardwalk and bike path, and then Santa Monica for the Pier and Malibu for something a little more secluded. While in Malibu, Reel Inn is a go-to for super fresh seafood in a very unassuming setting, and Geoffrey’s has great food (a little more upscale) and an incredible view. Downtown is a must for dining as well…there are amazing restaurants there. Badmaash is absolutely our favorite for Indian food, and we love Bottega Louie (among many others). Outside of downtown, I personally think that Night + Market is an absolute must in Los Angeles…best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It’s incredibly hard to pick just one person…but if I had to pick one it would be professor Anthony De Retis, who is the chair of the music department at Northeastern University, where I got my bachelors degree. Not only is Anthony an incredible person and dedicated to the education of many generations of composers, producers, songwriters and musicians, but he played a pretty pivotal role in my finding the sort of pragmatic balance within my career that I referred to in the previous question. After my first semester at Northeastern, I was feeling a bit frustrated. The ‘Music Technology’ program I had enrolled in seemed to be very much geared towards electronic music composition as opposed to the sound engineering focus I was looking for and expecting. I set up a meeting with professor De Ritis to discuss my options, and I was very close to deciding to transfer away from Northeastern. Anthony listened to my issues, and suggested something that completely opened my world in ways that I wouldn’t realize until years later. His suggestion? That I take on a Dual B.S. in Multimedia Studies with a focus in Music Technology. Keeping Music Tech as a focus allowed us to tailor that part of the curriculum to focus more in the areas I was looking to study, and the Multimedia aspect of this degree wound up leading me down a road that eventually wound up offering me some amazing career opportunities in software and interactive development. Anthony also took a personal interest in me as a student and wound up pulling me into some really incredible projects partnered with various outside organizations including the Boston Symphony Orchestra. My life and career would likely look quite different if it wasn’t for his guidance, and I will always appreciate it.
Photo Credit: Gentle Giant Digital