Exclusive Interview with our ReverbNation winner, LA's Willie of Wilshire
1. Who are you as an artist? What is your story?
My government name is Willie Arevalo and my artist name is Willie Of Wilshire or WOW for short. I come from Guatemalan and El Salvadorean immigrant parents and was raised in Downtown LA in a predominately poor socio-economic Latino neighborhood. I developed a love and passion for Hip Hop Music as a way to express my creativity which has grown into my life calling. I like to write about different topics that inspire me, whether it be how I feel at the moment, experiences I am going thru, things I have seen, current politics an conscious issues.
2. Who are some of your favorite artists and music influences?
There are too many to name. But if I had to choose a few I would have to say Tupac, Biggie, Wu-Tang, Psycho Realm, Nas, Immortal Technique, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Meek Mill, Nipsey Hussle, Talib and Mos Def, Skepta, Giggs, and Stormzy.
3. What is makes your music worth it? To the world? To your fans?
My music is an expression of who I am, it’s what I love to do. Whether I was broke or rich and didn’t have to work anymore, I would still choose to do music. It’s my passion, what I breathe and what I live. What I wake up for everyday and strive to do. I write music for myself, for the love of the art, and I hope that it touches the world and my fans in some way that they will fuck with it and bump it. But whether my audience is one person or a million, I will still do this. And I feel that’s what makes my music worth it, I do it for the love, not for the money or the fame or endorsements or all that, but for the love, and I hope my fans can hear that and appreciate it. I’m the only person that can tell my story, there is only one of me in this whole world and that makes my music worth a listen.
4. What is the future of music and the industry?
I think eventually everyone will be an artist in one way or another. The barriers of entry are lower than ever before. And with advancements in technology they will be able to share their music or art with the world easier than before. You don’t need to be signed to a major label, or have millions of dollars in music equipment. All you need is the drive, belief in yourself, and you can record your music and easily upload it to different platforms and share it easily with the world. Someone in Japan or Norway or South Africa can be bumping your music that day. I don’t know what new technologies will come out but I think it’s heading this way. I feel the artist will own their music, publishing rights, and distribution. Probably even get paid or tipped in crypto currency too.
5. What surprises you the most about the music industry?
What surprises me the most about the music industry is how it’s always evolving and changing. New artists come and go, new styles of rap are created, fashion changes, the way you connect with your fans and share your music changes. And as an artist, you have to stay on top of these changes, and find a way to constantly evolve and grow, but also remain true to your core and to who you are.
6. What’s your Poison?
My poison is not using my full potential. I always feel I can do more, and sometimes I procrastinate. I may take a day off to go hang out with friends, and I know deep inside that in order to fully live my dream, to be the best that I can be, I have to make more sacrifices. I also believe in having a balance or you’ll burn out eventually. But If I’m not in the studio that day,
rest assured someone else is. I can’t slack off. I have to give it my all and grind harder than the next guy, and I feel I am not doing all that I can or should be doing. Like should I binge watch the next season of Narcos Mexico or write the next song? You reap what you sow and my poison is sometimes I want to watch that episode but I know I shouldn’t. I have to stay dedicated
and focused if I want to be the greatest that I can be.
7. How is your ART “your Religion”?
I believe in my art, I have faith in my art, I give it all I got. This is what I breathe, what I
dedicated my whole life to, it’s what I love. Without music my spirit would wither and die.
Music is a part of me, it’s inseparable.
8. What are you truly creating with your music that changes the world, changes society?
The message in my music is all about waking up the world. I have a clothing brand called I Awoke that symbolizes this. My goal is to wake up everybody on the planet. I plan to accomplish this thru different outlets such as my music and my brand. If I can accomplish waking up even a fraction of the people, to “unplug” them from the Matrix in which we live, then I hope I am contributing to a better world and uplifting society.
9. What is the (spiritual, political, social, etc pick one) message of your
The spiritual message of my music is to help the listener realize that we are all one, we are all connected.
10. Have you been “lucky” or “gifted” in the music industry so far? Tell us more...
I don’t feel I have been lucky or gifted in the music industry. Nothing has been handed to me. You should have heard me when I first started, I sucked ass. If you would have heard me you would have told me to just quit, raps not for me haha. But I guess my gift came in the form of will power and perseverance. From the first moment I heard Hip Hop I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. If I could make a living with my music
I would be in Heaven. So even tho I sucked at first, I kept at it, I worked hard on my craft. And If I really had to say if I have ever been lucky in this industry it has been meeting my producer and close friend Eddie Ruxspin. He’s the one that really coached me and thought me how to rap and be the best that I can be. If I’m MJ then he’s Phil Jackson. He’s Dre and I’m Em. So I owe him my life, I definitely would not be where I
am today without Rux.
11. What do you really think it takes to make it in the music industry? Tell us 3 keys.
Belief, work, and perseverance. You have to first believe in yourself and that you can accomplish your dreams. Then you have to be willing to work at it every.single.day. No days off. If the other rapper is in the studio for 8 hours a day then you gotta be in there
for ...And finally times will get hard, you will face many challenges that will make you want to give up. That’s where perseverance comes in. Never ever give up. No matter how many times you get knocked down you need to get back up and hit back with all you got. In the end, these three keys will open up the doors that you need to get you to where you need to go. Your hard work will pay off, and you’ll meet the right people and divine guidance will do the rest.
12. What is your main inspirational philosophy in life? Favorite quote?
My main inspirational philosophy in life is to simply be happy. Like I said before, whether I was broke or had all the money in the world, I would still rap because that’s what makes me happy. I don’t want to be sitting in a cubicle at a job I hate wasting my life just because that’s what society says I should do. You know, get a degree, get a good paying job with benefits, get married, have kids. Fuck that I want to do what makes me happy and to have the courage to go after my dreams.
I have a lot of favorite quotes but one I really like is by Walt Disney. “If you can dream it, then you can do it.” This to me means that no matter what you want, if you can visualize it, then you can bring it into reality if you work for it. We are all creators of our own lives. But in order to create what you want, you first need to know what it is that you want. Have a crystal clear vision of it, and then do everything in your power to manifest it.
13. What do you regret the most in your music and would have done differently?
I regret not believing in myself from the beginning. I doubted myself a lot. Like was I good enough? Am I making the right choice? Should I just get a corporate job and give up on rap? But all in all I wouldn’t change a thing in my life because it’s made me who I am and I believe we all have our own destiny and path we must walk. Everything happens in it’s due time. But If I could go back in time I would believe in myself. Like I would have just dropped out of school and not gone to college and just rapped every single day. Had no plan B. Either I make it or I make it, there are no other options. I would have trained like an athlete since day one.
14. Where do you see your career going in five years? 10 years? Next year?
I see my career taking off in 5 years. Having a solid fan base that allows me to go on tours, get paid, and sell enough merch to make a comfortable living.
In 10 years I see myself established globally, a household name, having some platinum plaques, awards and grammy’s. Next year I see myself building more of a following and becoming more known. I’m ready now, my time has come. I been training for this my whole life and I can see it coming to fruition soon.
15. Legacy: At the end of the day, how do you want your fans to remember you and your music?
At the end of the day, once I am gone from this earth, I want to be remembered like they remember
Pac. That’s my goal. If my music can touch lives and make people feel a type of way, even years after I am gone, then I did something right. I want to live on thru my music and add something of value to everyone that listens to it. I want to leave the world a better place than it was when I was born into it.