The pandemic seems to suit William Prince just fine at this point in time. The Juno-winning Canadian singer-songwriter with the rich, smooth, baritone voice is using his time out from touring by spending precious moments with his son and writing new music.
In April he lent his voice to Canada’s coronavirus special, “Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble,” a star-studded show of support for those on the front lines in the fight against the COVID-19 crisis.
Q- Congrats on the “Stronger Together” concert. How would you describe the experience?
It was great! Just to join in on one of Canada’s most historical broadcasts was truly an honour. To sing and wish the front line workers well, the first responders, everyone coming together. I think of my sister, who is a nurse, so it’s extra special.
Q- You’re based in Winnipeg right now. How are you spending your time during the pandemic?
I’ve had plenty of time for contemplation. I’ve built a little home studio. It’s opened up a whole new world for me. I used to dabble in recording years and years ago, but lost that equipment to the pawn shops because I was desperate at times. I was always kind of nervous to go back to it.
I’m really fortunate to have worked with people who’ve put in their 10,000 hours into these crafts, engineering, mixing and matching at the highest professional level. So I think for me, why would I start the process of doing this? But I realized that being able to record yourself, that’s what a demo studio should be.
There’s no pressure that I have to make songs that will appear on my next record or that will ever be heard. It’s been a nice way to occupy my time.
Q- What about on a personal level?
What a blessing it’s been to spend so much time with my son! It took a pandemic to stop me touring. I was going on four or five years now pretty steady, traveling and singing. I’ve really dug into my dad life now, and I’m feeling like I’m making up for time that I didn’t have. And I hope he remembers 2020 as the year his dad taught him how to ride a bike. That’s pretty special.
Q- On the flip side, it’s tough for a lot of musicians right now. No one can tour. Is this fodder for more songs?
I’ve never stopped writing, so that hasn’t slowed down, which I’m thankful for. It feels like I’m preparing a lot of stuff for when we can get back to the studio and record. It’s nice to go back to those half-written songs and see them through to the end. I’m appreciating the time.
Q- Your last album, “Reliever,” got great reviews, and a fabulous write-up in Rolling Stone.
Thank you, it’s been great! What a time to release an album called “Reliever,” when we’re in search of a vaccine or relief of some sort, whether that be a walk or a drive. It feels like people are connecting to it because we need entertainment and comfort right now.
I released the record the day after my dad’s birthday, February 6th. He shared a birthday with Gord Downey.
I never take lightly the messages from people who write me to say, “This is helping me get through this time.” I always appreciate it. I’m going to put out records the rest of my life, and it just so happens this one took place during this memorable time.
“Reliever” was an album for me and now it’s helping others. I say that with all the love. I’m getting ready for the third album now.
Q- What were you trying to express in the album?
Reliever speaks to the loss of my dad and the separation and estrangement of my son’s mother. And breaking fee of feeling, ” I’m a failure,” and “I let my family fall apart.”
And really it’s not that at all. My career finally going somewhere, gaining momentum. I’m playing shows all over the world, sustaining myself with my music, and I’m happy to report my ex and I are better friends than ever. We have a beautiful son who’s going to be four this August, and we’ve moved on to better loves more suited to who we are as people. We’re here to love and raise this child together.
Q-What does this new positivity mean for your music?
I’m not going to write music in this current time saying I’m blue and I’m hurting and desolate and lonely. Nope. I’m going to write a song that’s a testament to resilience. It’s a testament to our people as well.
“Reliever” meant I can grieve, move on and grow, and now I can dabble in themes of joy, success, and having purpose. It’s a testament to my people as well.
Q-You mention your people. Do you feel Indigenous music is getting enough of a platform today?
I think the visibility around it is great. Sometimes Indigenous music is viewed with an asterisk next to it or a special entry when it’s as real and long standing as the land we’re on.
I love that we’re hearing artists from different territories that wouldn’t have been heard before the internet. I think now the opportunity is there and it’s up to the artists themselves to provide us with something worth hearing. Something approached with a serious intention.
There are more Indigenous acts at festivals, online streams, – if that room is there it’s up to us to use the opportunity for all it’s worth.