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Pat Williams is A Musical Shape Shifter

Written by on April 8, 2021

Singer-songwriter Pat Williams is as multifaceted as the music he creates.

The Toronto-based artist creates lo-fi, hip-hop rooted music by pulling inspiration from artists like Frank Ocean and Mac Miller and by collaborating with fellow Toronto artists such as JSP and Marcus Givans. Williams’ 2021 EP IN CASE I DON’T SEE YOU is polished and smooth, sweeping listeners up into a whirlwind of sound and color from beginning to end. The EP’s six tracks stick to a core sound while still leaving room for experimentation and creative exploration in their sonic progressions, a testament to Williams’ ability to change and adapt as he has grown as an artist. “GOOD MONEY,” featuring JSP, is the second track on the EP and was featured on our In Rotation playlist for March 2021.

We spoke with Pat Williams about the Toronto music scene, the process of creating his EP, his favorite movie soundtracks and more.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Where did you grow up?

I’ve lived in and around Toronto my entire life, mostly in the West End area. 

What is your earliest music-related memory?

It’d probably be as a kid in my dad’s truck playing this funk compilation CD. The movement and arrangement was definitely something I inherently incorporated in my music.

What do you remember listening to while you were growing up? Did you have a particular favorite artist who stands out to you?

Lupe Fiasco sparked the initial change for me. This was around the time everyone started ripping MP3’s off of YouTube. Lupe released a series of mixtapes titled Fahrenheit [1/15] — the rhyme schemes… use of language with eclectic production was all so new. I started studying it, decoding it, picking everything apart.

I’d say it started as early as Kanye’s “Late Registration,” that album speaks volumes to me still.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

“I don’t believe any person is one singular thing, so neither should the art that represents me or the world around me.”

Pat Williams

Who are your top 3 favorite artists now?

It changes all the time. As of right now I’m bumping a lot of Sylvan LaCue, Savannah Ré and Gambino’s new album.

Who is one artist that inspires you to create, or has had a particularly big impact on your style?

I can’t name only one. My quick list would be Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller and Pink Floyd — any artist that can adapt, come in with a direction different from last and execute on their terms. That’s something I’ve taken with me, the ability to do things on my terms. I don’t believe any person is one singular thing, so neither should the art that represents me or the world around me.

When did you decide to start pursuing music?

Since my teens, I really didn’t see anything else, I saw no other options. It consumed me. There’s other endeavours I’m currently exploring that will make the music more expansive.

Describe to us the Toronto music scene. Do you feel like the community is supportive of one another, or are people a little more isolated when it comes to making music?

Most keep a close circle and work amongst our respective groups. The city’s always had an every man for themselves mentality. A lot of us in the city are reluctant to share our resources or support and hold each other up. 

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Walk us through your creative process when you were recording your new EP “IN CASE I DON’T SEE YOU.” Do you typically write lyrics or instrumentals first? Do you prefer working alone or with others? Do you have any pre-writing rituals you always stick to?

Prior to “IN CASE I DON’T SEE YOU,” I’d been working on an album for a year and some change. Having prepped that, I was in a space where I was free to explore a bunch of different concepts. Once I’d regained that freedom, I locked in and began recording two or three records a day, just like it was for me coming up. Within a week I had a few of the records and a clear direction in mind. I brought in a bunch of musicians to keep the momentum alive. 

Where did you draw inspiration from when writing “GOOD MONEY”?

Honestly, I’m always pushing new sounds and experimenting. “GOOD MONEY” was where experimentation met simplicity. Simplicity, when done right, can be a hard thing to make potent. I was playing JSP and Marcus Givans all the new records I’d made that first week of creating and we were all on a high. The record took some time with the final arrangement, but you can still hear that vibe we had resonated on that record.

Album art for “IN CASE I DON’T SEE YOU,” courtesy of the artist.

If you could work with any artist, who would it be and why?

Give me a session with Kendrick, Kanye or Tame Impala.

What is your favorite movie soundtrack? What’s your favorite song on it?

I’d have to say Moonlight or Eternal Sunshine [of the Spotless Mind]. My favorite isn’t actually on Moonlight‘s soundtrack itself but was scored within the film. Jay Electronica rapped to a majority of Eternal Sunshine‘s soundtrack, which gave me a whole new perspective and approach.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

What should listeners be on the lookout from you – anything on the horizon?

We’ve got an album I’ve worked on for what feels like forever releasing this year. It feels like my life’s work. We’ve been creating a world around it as well. My motive has always been to provide a world with each experience.

What are you personally most looking forward to this year?

My flowers.

Follow Pat Williams on Instagram and Twitter, and stream “IN CASE I DON’T SEE YOU” on Spotify below.

Interview edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca.

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