By Ané Havenga
Will Linley took the industry by storm with his hit single, Miss me (when you’re gone), and his EP, Kill all my feelings. His music is all over radio stations as he is quickly becoming a household name, even performing at big festivals like the recent Rocking the Daisies. Linley explained that merely a year ago, he lived the life of a regular Stellenbosch student.
“This whole journey has been really cool so far. I studied for a degree I didn’t like. I always thought music would be the next step since I love music, but it wasn’t really a realistic option. I never thought I would make a career out of it. It is incredible to think that I get to perform at places like The Daisy Jones Bar. In my first year, I watched a show there and thought I would love to play there one day. It is all little flags or goals in my journey,” Linley explained.
Everything started to take form for Linley halfway through his second year of studying in 2021.
In June, he finished recording Miss me (when you’re gone) and signed a record deal with Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). He deregistered from BCom (International Business), but he still believes in the value of obtaining a degree. Linley sees himself as a creative being and struggles to wrap his head around accounting and economics. He still misses Maties, especially the camaraderie, his friends and going for ice cream late at night.
“The one I wish I could have experienced is graduation. I am now in a career where I will never get a degree, and I think that would have been special,” Linley added.
Except for not attending classes and not having exams in his life anymore, the most significant change he had to make was learning how to plan his life more effectively.
“I am a chaotic individual. My head is always up in the clouds. I am not the greatest at planning my days, although I am improving. I miss the structure of university life. Now, some days I do something, other days nothing and some days I write songs,” he explained.
He believes that waking up every day to experience his life, family, and community is what inspires him to write songs and enables him to deliver an excellent performance. His biggest musical inspirations are artists like Dean Lewis, Jon Bellion, Picture This and Dermot Kennedy. Linley encourages everybody to listen to these three songs: Lizzy McAlpine’s Same Boat, Mr Percocet by Noah Cyrus and Jon Bellion’s Conversations with my wife (acoustic version).
Linley’s social media followers know he loves to announce a free concert every now and then. He explains, “I want to be known for being on the ground, between the crowds, so I can meet the people who support me. I know not everybody can afford shows; student life is tough. The community has given so much to me, and because of them, I have a career. I love to interact and chat with them. There are so many awesome people with incredible stories. I am always a bit nervous whether people will come, but I do not mind [playing for] one or one hundred people – I want interaction, even if it is just with one person.”
He recently toured Europe with Matthew Mole, playing his music to an international audience. His general approach to making art is to stay authentic and true to himself. Linley tries to spread a message of love and positivity every time he climbs on the stage.
“Our world is in desperate need of a hug,” he said.