When former 4 Non Blondes-singer Linda Perry found success in the 90s with massive hit ‘What’s Up?’, but soon after took own paths after being displeased of the direction her band was going, a career as a music producer started unintentionally, just when she jokingly created the song ‘Get The Party Started’ to mess around new music equipment she bought at that time. That song was later given to P!nk as she was approached by her to work on her second LP ‘M!ssundaztood’ (2001), and the success for both the album and the single not only re-emerged P!nk’s career, but opened new doors for Linda as well – continuing as a songwriter and producer for other artists – creating valuable hits for Christina Aguilera (‘Beautiful’, ‘Hurt’), Gwen Stefani (‘What You Waiting For?’) to Alicia Keys (‘Superwoman’). This eventually led Linda to dig deeper outside of mainstream artists, finding new fresh talent to help shape music to the next level, with the intention to be more authentic and more real. Taking first steps in ‘Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project’ for VH1 in 2014 to work with up-and-coming musicians, to eventually starting her own record label with musician Kerry Brown, called ‘We Are Hear’ that also signed British singer Natasha Bedingfield. That’s where Willa Amai pops up, too: A new talent that’s hungry for music – the level of authenticity Perry was looking for.
From Daft Punk to Dolly Parton
For 15-year old Willa music is something that’s inked in her skin since she can remember: Learning piano at age 4, following with guitar and ukulele right away, and since 9 years old writing her own material as well. When Willa was 12, a family friend introduced her to Linda Perry who was impressed by the energy she delivered, then signed and managed her afterwards. The early material of songs that she created was proof enough for Linda to see her as good potential of an artist for the upcoming generation. Willa right away proofs that fact with one of her first releases, a stripped-back cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’. The classic track has been brought to a different level with spacy tones offered in Willa’s version, and its popularity led to be featured in a TV spot for Quickbooks. Not long after that, a new opportunity roused from nowhere: When Linda Perry (now her manager) was invited to contribute for a soundtrack album for ‘Dumplin’ (2018) with newly recorded music as well as new versions of previously recorded songs by Dolly Parton, Linda introduced Dolly to Willa, and was invited to re-record a cover version of her 1977 hit ‘Here You Come Again’ as a duet with the country music star. While Dolly’s original version is carried with upbeat sounds, the version she recorded with Willa is slower with orchestral touches, offering different feels, opened by Willa, then sang together with Dolly as a duet.
Even though the positive outlook she created with her Daft Punk cover, Dolly Parton collab and of course with the help of Linda Perry, who introduced her to the world when Willa was more ready than ever to step in the game, it’s none other than her heartfelt ‘Trampled Flowers’ that shows her ability of making first steps in the industry – with acoustic guitar, mellow vocals and modern beats in the hook. The track, which talks about love and loss and the impact people have on our lives, shines in its music video, directed by Mark Romanek, where an older Willa (played by her own grandma) reflects of a love she lost when she was young. The ‘young’ version is played by Willa herself, and both timezones blend together: A heartbroken but careless ‘young’ Willa, and a thoughtful ‘old’ Willa, coinciding the video with the lyrical content: “Maybe I’m a little crazy but I’ll get there pretty soon/Not looking for you to save me, ‘cause even trampled flowers bloom.”
The lyrics therefore underline the emotional purpose that music brings to her, as Willa stated in her biography on her website: “I feel like my mind is always going a mile a minute, and music’s like an escape from that—a way to slow down and breathe, because time doesn’t move when I’m writing,”