He may hail from a part of the world not synonymous with electronica, but Australian producer Willaris. K is already being spoken about with the same hushed reverence as Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
The New South Wales native, also known as Jack McAllister, has just completed a busy 2018, playing his first festivals outside of Australia (including Coachella and Ireland’s Forbidden Fruit), and releasing Alchemy, his first long player.
With tracks like Natural Selection, Dour Nights (recently named by Pete Tong as an ‘Essential New Tune’) and the title track of his new album, McAllister’s gossamer-like synth soundscapes have established him as ‘one to watch’ in the electronic music landscape.
909originals caught up with him.
Q. 2018 was quite the breakthrough year for you. What was your personal highlight?
Yeah a lot happened, hard to pick one. Playing my first shows outside Australia/New Zealand, releasing Alchemy and selling out my first headline tours in Australia were big highlights.
Q. It’s been said that your previous job working on electrical substations helped to inspire your unique take on electronica – how so?
In a way it did. I was able to listen to a lot of music while driving and listen to ideas I had on the go, but I think it was more the lifestyle/situation that inspired the music.
Q. Is New South Wales renowned for its electronica – or did you have to look further afield for musical influences?
New South Wales isn’t renowned for electronica but the band that got me into this world of music is Seekae from Sydney. My friend showed me the ‘Void’ video at school one day and I was hooked.
Other than that, in the early days of Willaris. K, I was listening to a lot of Shlømo, Gold Panda, Jon Hopkins, Rival Consoles and so forth.
Q. There’s a distinct ‘cinema-esque’ feel to some of your tracks. Were you influenced by movie soundtracks at all, or is it an area you would like to go into?
I think subconsciously movie soundtracks have had an influence on my music but it doesn’t really play a part in my creative process. Definitely something I want to do after I finish this album!
Q. 2018 saw you play at some major festivals and events, such as Coachella, Forbidden Fruit, Lost Paradise – do you think your music more suited to these sort of wide open spaces, rather than packed nightclubs?
The Willaris. K live show grew through playing festivals in the Australian bush so definitely. They’re my favourite shows to play but I also love intimate clubs, that’s where it all began for me.
Q. What is the most essential piece of equipment in your arsenal? The cornerstone of the Willaris K sound?
It’s more a combo. My current combo is Digitone, Digitakt, Arp Odyssey and Sub 37. The piano gets a good run as well.
Q. Who do you think is at the top of their game in your particular field of electronica at the moment?
Hard to look past Jon Hopkins.
Q. What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Releasing my next album!
[Thanks to Willaris. K for the interview. You can find our more information, upcoming dates etc on his Facebook page. All videos uploaded to YouTube by Willaris. K]