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Canadian Urban Legend Wes ‘MAESTRO’ Williams – Still Bringing the Music to Us After All These Years
MAESTRO has evolved beyond his “Let Your Backbone Slide” days, but people still associate him with his first hit 15 years ago. Does it bother him? Not a chance! For MAESTRO he has evolved through his achievements as an artist and looks back fondly on his early years with pride.
To date, no one has exceeded the levels of achievement achieved by MAESTRO. To date 7 music awards, 7 albums, 11 JUNO nominations, gold and platinum albums, gold singles and a mix of film/television awards and personal achievements. All this, plus a film and television career? No wonder his latest album is called Urban Landmark 1989-2005 – he’s clearly made his mark, now let’s see where he goes from here!
One of my first radio interviews was with MAESTRO, when I was working at York University Radio, he was a special guest on a show called “The Cutting Edge”. I realized then after our short hour together on the show, that this is a man full of passion! He is passionate about what he does, who he talks to, what he is involved in and especially passionate about music. This is the same passion I saw and felt when we (Lisa Norman and I) sat down with him the day before his CD release party. He is truly “winning” now more than ever, his life is a full “Symphony in Effect” – just shows you that he is “built to last”
I have words with Wes
Do you seem to have a love affair with Canadian rock and contemporary artists? That’s not the average approach to hip-hop, is it?
WES- Janet Jackson sampled Joni Mitchell, which is much further than me, a Canadian artist, sampling another Canadian artist. See?
Yes, but you’re the only one who gets credit for doing it.
WES- No, Swollen Members did that too, but not many people know that they did a track with Sarah McLachlan that was hot. It was from their last album….. I don’t know why these guys didn’t make it a single, it was so hot!
To date you have worked “with” HAYWIRE, guess who and now Gowan!
WES- It’s just something I like to do. Take Canadian rock records and just remix them. I have these albums, I love them – I collect them.
So, within the song you are listening to, are you listening to another song?
Orlena, Hip Hop up n’comer Subliminal, Liesa WES- yes, yes. Like when I heard “Stick to Your Vision” (a track from his last album, which sampled The Guess Who’s – These Eyes) – I was like…Whooooo! It was a nice reflective song to talk about what you’ve been through and inspiring at the same time.
So it was a favorite?
WES- Hell yeah! (chuckles)
Lyrically do you find that the words come first or the music?
WES- There is no specific formula. Concept may come first and then the music after. You know I never try to assimilate – I try to innovate.
So your latest track, Criminal Mind with Larry Gowan- is that something you heard within the song, or is it something you came up with on your own?
(L-R) Orlena, actor-Richard Leacock, Lisa WES- No. It was more like the original version was about being a criminal and a criminal mind. I had a more criminal justice system view. But, at the same time, we as a community Not being in a position where we’re more followers instead of being the leaders we need to be. In life you have to be a leader and stop making excuses for everything! With the song I just put my own little spin on it. What I like is that Randy Bachman and Larry Gowan both love what I did with the song
Were you in the studio with Larry Gowan?
WES- No. I was in his living room when I played him the track when it was over and I saw the hair stand up on his arms. Then we went downstairs to watch his video from Criminal Mind and then my new one, which he’s in. The video is in full rotation now – it’s just bananas!
Do you find the violence accurate to what the media portrays? Or do you really feel that there is a wave of violence within minorities?
The Showstoppers(ctre) Maestro
And Cardinal Officiel WES- Yes, yes (as he sighs). It’s a bit of both. However, there is still a bit of sensationalism going on. But, to me it’s embarrassing for all the people that we carry on like this with each other. We don’t have to be like that. We have lost our ability to “talk” to each other. My question is how did the guns get here in the first place? Who brings them into the country? This is the last line in my song Criminal Mind. I come from a good place and I hope people will be attracted to what I do.
The album released on August 23 has 5 new hits?
WES- The album doesn’t really have five new hits, but 5 songs that haven’t been released before. These tracks have been released before, but only on radio and more as singles that were not available for purchase.
Well, your greatest hits album is about to cover the span of your career – are you ready to do any of those moves you used to spin for “Let your Backbone Slide.”
R&B Sweetie Melanie DurrantWES- Oh yes. I’m going to do a full show! Choreography, the works..it’s going to be hot to death!
You’re still hot to death after all these years. You still have the same warmth and taste you had when you were younger. It’s good to see! What are you listening to in your car right now? Do you have any musical influences?
WES- Right now I’m listening to myself (laughter broke out from all of us). I have my demo CD and practice it over and over again.
Kidding aside, you have a reputation to maintain, if you don’t mean it you know people are going to write about it! Watching and waiting for you to fall…or just from the stage!
What a night!WES- It’s ok…look…just keep watching!
we will be!
FYI – the next day MAESTRO came with him and blew the roof off the MOD club! The place was packed, people were bumping to his hits and when he gave us the last track… it was all over. Hey! When Maestro left the stage – everyone left.
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