Wil Akogu Has A Story To Tell (Exclusive Interview)

Chicago’s Wil Akgou has a remarkable way of drawing you in. His music, his visuals, and his presence in general is thought out, compelling, and personal. Last year he dropped a hell of a project in the Language of The Soul EP (above) and some loosies that have garnered thousands of plays.

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After discovering this talented artist I set out to ask some specific questions about his career, which has been short but impressive. Read below in our in depth video with the 20 year old himself.

Introduce yourself a bit – in any way you’d like.

Whats up Julie! My name is Wil Akogu, I’m a 20 year old artist from the city of Chicago

Before we get into the music, when did you decide you wanted to take your career seriously? What made you make that decision?

I feel like I’ve always taken music as serious as I could given the information & resources I had access to growing up. I’ve been around music my entire life. I grew up in Nigeria & spent most of my adolescent years singing in the choir at church. But it wasn’t till I graduated high school at the age of 16 that I really felt the need to pursue music professionally. At that time, I just wanted more out of life & myself; and music was the outlet in which I would use to achieve that. 

When did you start recording music?

I recorded my very first song ever at the age of 14.

Getting to your work – on SoundCloud you call yourself the “most valuable poet,” which is also the title of one of your projects. Can you elaborate on that?

The “Most Valuable Poet” title came about my freshman semester (and my only semester) in college when I was stuck between pursuing my football career & my music career. I feel like very few words can describe the combination of my personality, art, vision, outlook on life etc.. accurately. The title expounds on my belief that we are all the most valuable versions of ourselves, and I just so happen to believe one of the many things I am is a poet. Thus the “Most Valuable Poet” had its beginning.

I was introduced to your music through the heavy coverage of last year’s EP Language of the Soul. In a nutshell how did the record come together? I’m sure there is a much larger story. 

Man! That project was created at such a crucial time in my life. So much was going on! I had just moved back from LA after things didn’t go as planned, leaving me broke, almost homeless & extremely mentally depleted. My grandpa (on my moms side) randomly sent me $150 a week before I moved back to Chicago. Although we had never previously communicated on a regular basis. Ever! It was that $150 I used to arrange a photoshoot to shoot the cover of my “MVP” project and get a haircut for the shoot lol. I found myself in a really good space though creatively & physically when time to create this project came around. I thank the extremely talented musicians & artist that were apart of the creation process. 

There’s a lot in those 5 tracks – did you think about making the project longer? Why 5?

Not really. We created exactly five(5) records & those are the exact five(5) records in the order they were created & listed in the track list. I just knew 5 was right

Did you pick out the producers yourself? They seem central to the flow of the project. 

I worked with a few producers on that project. Shout out my brothers MikeWavvs, Dougy & the big homie Jabari Rayford. All 3 of them played crucial parts to the creation of the project. But most of the project was music based. Meaning we played a lot of the music live. Shouts out to my multi-talented homie Wolfgang who played everything from the guitar to the mandolin on the project. It was a lot of fun creating those records in the studio especially “Exodus”! “Exodus” was pretty much a freestyle.

Let’s talk about the intro track Buried Alive. It’s an unconventional 9 minutes long. When did you record that, what was the process like, and did you set out to make a “longer” record?

Man, the creation of that record was a monumental moment in my career. I hadn’t written a single line music in almost 8 months when I came back from LA. I had no idea where I was creatively at that time. So in an effort to “see if I still had it” I was perusing through instrumentals on Soundcloud, when I stumbled across a Shlohmo track. It took one play of the instrumental & I literally blanked out for almost 3 hours only to awake & see 3 pages of lyrics in front of me. Somehow never rehearsed those pages worth of lyrics but knew every word by heart just by writing them down one time. Thats when I knew something bigger than life & music itself was at work in me.

Watching the music video to this song honestly took my breath away. The level of artistry in those 9 minutes is unbelievable. There is a lot to talk about – but first off who directed it?

I appreciate you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Shouts out my brother Liam Trumble, he directed the video. He’s also my manager & visual director. Very dope individual. I wrote the treatment & he directed it.

How did you plan this out? Where was this shot? Are you happy with the outcome?

First of all, it was extremely cold when we shot haha. It was 15 degrees on both days we shot outside. If you look at 7:47 in the video you can see my lip quivering. But its all good I’m lion, I took it like a champ. It was actually shot at a few different locations though. We shot the woods scenes at a forest preserve in the Chicago burbs. A reverend at church in Oak Park granted us 3+ hours of full access to his beautiful church so we could capture the church scenes. Shouts to that reverend! And we shot at a few more locations as well. Overall I’m happy with it. But I’m a perfectionist, I always think we can do better. Keep on the lookout for my future visuals though, promise to blow your mind away.

Staying on that subject, a few months ago you put out a video titled “The Wil Akogu Experience” described as “getting a closer look at what makes Wil Akogu…. Wil Akogu.” It’s a great look into your life and recording process. Who came up with that idea? Will there be more episodes?

It was actually one of the many ideas I had in a effort to continually expand my visual content. And yes there will be plenty more episodes.

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The actual (private) listening party for the EP was held at Complex 2010 Studios. Media personalities and close friends came out to show their support. How did the connection happen between you and Complex? What was the event like?

My publicist at the time set that up. The event went very well! Had a good time, met a lot of new faces, and most importantly my music was received very well.

A few months ago I tweeted that the album cover is an uncanny representation of how I felt while listening to LOTS. Everything from the gloomy forest, reflective and depressed body language and the theme of darkness with the baseball bat. Talk a little about how the art came together. 

Like many of the great things I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, that photo kind of just happened. When you work with other talented artist & great minds, you set yourself up to be on the receiving end of a lot of great things.  

What music do you listen to? Which artists influence you? I hear a lot of rock/alternative influences throughout your music. 

I listen to a lot of RnB,Pop & even Alternative music. More because I enjoy the melodies & harmonies found in each genre. I also really enjoy the music of it all as well. I’m fascinated by instruments. I appreciate artists like Michael Jackson, Macy Gray, Daniel Caesar, Tory Lanez, J.Cole, Kendrick. The list goes on.

Your first project, The Most Valuable Poet, is in my opinion very underrated. Why did you put that out? Where were you mentally when recording?

That was a very important body of work. I felt it laid the foundation of who I am as an artist, person, brother, lover etc in regards to how the world perceived my art past, present & future. I was 17 when I recorded the whole project.

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You’re only 20 years old. What’s the plan moving forward?

The plan is as it has always been is to spill my soul on the world. I mentioned in the “Wil Akogu Experience 01” that I believed myself not to have a gift but rather to be a gift. And I plan to continue to share the gift that I am to & with the world.

Any last thoughts?

I appreciate you having me talk about my art. I look to seeing the site/blog grow & supporting in your future endeavors. Thank you for having me.