Willing and able, even after 20 years

Alberta singer-songwriter Wil feels as confident as ever touring his fourth disc

Wil practically owns the streets of his hometown, Calgary. Shaun Robinson

Wil Mimnaugh cut his teeth like most artists - or maybe unlike most artists. The native Albertan began his professional music career playing bar shows five nights a week in Calgary. This was in 1992, before he began writing his own songs.

“I didn’t play the music bars needed me to play,” Mimnaugh, 41, says over the phone from the road. “Radiohead did Creep and I was like ‘I’m going to do that.’ I didn’t really care what it was, I just tried it.”

During this time Wil grew as a confident artist - one with inspiring musicianship and intelligent lyrics. The process was a very pragmatic one though.

“I slowly covered less while writing more and had the confidence to believe in my songs,” he says. “Everyone pops that cherry at one point when you’re an artist.”

Even with the newfound confidence, it took Wil a prolonged period to start recording his songs. His first release, Both Hands didn’t hit shelves until 2001.

“I remember in the early days, my manager and friend Dan (McManus) saying, ‘Write a record’ and I’m like ‘Fuck that, do you have any idea what that takes?’” he laughs. 

Heart of Mine is Wil’s fourth release, and his strongest effort to date. Recorded with the help of his drummer/engineer Jason Cook at Infiniti Studios in Victoria, the 13-day recording process was void of over-analysis and over-production.

The final result is what Lethbridge Alberta Beat editor Richard Amery calls “a solid, upbeat effort that goes down smooth.”

The album won’t be released through a major record label like some of Wil’s other releases.

Having spent some time on a major label, Wil has an enlightening perspective on the subject.

“There were a handful of people there that I can call my friends,” he says. “I can say they cared about my best interests.”

Wil doesn’t make a distinction between indie labels and major labels because he realizes they are both trying to accomplish the same thing, but in different ways.

“There are a lot of horrific stories about labels, there are also a lot of horrific stories about how your best friend borrowed money then slept with your wife,” he says. “There are douche bags at any level, but there are also people who have your back at every level.”

This is an exciting time for Wil because he is using music for different mediums. He was a part of Travel Alberta’s latest campaign and does other work for commercials.

Other than being a musician, Wil also works as a mechanic at a local bike shop.

“If I put up my music up against everything that was thrown my way I would lose focus,” he says. “I get away from being a musician so I can come back and be better at it.”

Published in Volume 66, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 23, 2011)

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