William Maus found inspiration in the people he surrounded himself with throughout his life, from his grandfather to the women he found solace in and could call his friends. We talked about what he gained from each and how those early inspos went on to help craft the music found on his debut EP, ‘Who You’re Talking With.’ We talked about the EP that’s available now, as well as “My Body,” theatrical casting, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: Not too long ago you packed a bag and headed to New York City and started focusing on yourself more. In that came therapy and songwriting. Did those two things sort of go hand in hand, like did you start writing as a form of therapy you could do at home? Because I often find that sitting down and just typing anything in my head often helps alleviate some level of stress.
William Maus: My songwriting is absolutely the most vulnerable form of how I feel and sometimes the only way I can actually express what I am feeling truthfully. What is the most surprising part is that I often don’t realize I feel a certain way until I sit down at my piano and it subconsciously comes forward in my writing. The ability to continue to discover things about myself is only possible when I allow myself to just create and experiment, without forcing a narrative that isn’t what I am actually going through or understanding. I absolutely spend days where I know the only thing that can lead to healing or understanding or processing is through my writing. And I feel even luckier that I get to use my own voice to share it.
Kendra: When it comes to what you wrote and what wound up on your debut EP, ‘Who You’re Talking With,’ you deliver this almost standard-like performance ala Michael Buble but found a way to modernize it. Growing up, were there any artists you looked to that you’re now seeing that influenced how you approach your own sound today?
William Maus: My love for vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra were inspired by my ninety-two-year-old grandfather. Our way to understand each other was through the piano, and our commitment to making music every single day we live. I spent twelve years training as a classical pianist and can only dream to share a portion of the soul and embodiment that these artists can do with their voices. It is incomparable.
Kendra: On the EP you have the beautiful, emotive “My Body” which I connected with right away because as a Black woman who grew up in the ‘90s with extra weight on her – seeing nothing but rail-thin blondes made me insanely insecure. You too drew comparisons between yourself and women. Which I could see because as a society beauty is so often associated with the female form. Do you think that fascination with women and their bodies has become more magnified due to social media and the universal obsession with image?
William Maus: I think we so often associate beauty solely with femininity and do not recognize the harm in doing so. Growing up I was inspired and drawn to the women around me, and truthfully did not have many friendships with men. Not acknowledging my sexuality absolutely made me feel safer with people who I felt I was allowed to still be myself around, which happened to be women.
I would say that the fascination with women and their bodies has definitely been amplified because of social media and the universal exposure. But I do think social media has become a huge outlet for women, and everyone for that matter, to just post whatever the hell we want and not let anyone control our own self-worth. Finally arriving to the point where I stopped comparing the way I looked to everyone around me, truly gave me the internal confidence and love for myself that I am so thankful for.
Kendra: Back to the EP as a whole, being that you’re a musical theater student – if ‘Who You’re Talking With’ was made into a Broadway show, who (aside from yourself) would you love to cast as the lead?
William Maus: Jessica Vosk and Alex Newell are my everything and would be a dream. I am so fueled by their control and understanding of their own voices.
Kendra: So time for a side note – with love in the air, I’d love to know what is the #1 song you’d put on a mixtape as part of a Valentine’s Day gift?
William Maus: Everything on Jazmine Sullivan’s ‘Heaux Tales’ deluxe album, but if I have to choose one song it would be “Selfish.”
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Who You’re Talking With’ out now, what else is in the works as we head towards the spring??
William Maus: I have my first solo show at Rockwood Music Hall on Tuesday, March 28th, as well as a few more to be announced soon! I plan to release my debut album by the end of the year and cannot wait to announce my next single…