Q&A’s: Will Carlson Takes Us Through His Debut Single ‘McKenzie’ + Following Your Instinct


Words by Emily Hollitt {Emily Hollitt Content Writer{Malina Claire}


What do you get when you cross the lyrical stylings of Allday, the production integrity of
Brakence and hooks as catchy as Aries? Well, you get the Gold Coast’s newest prodigy Will Carlson who just debuted with pop bop McKenzie. Written, produced, mixed AND mastered in his bedroom, Carlson‘s hooky debut is bound to having you hitting repeat in no time!

Much like Drake’s In My Feelings, Carlson‘s track centres the lyrics and chorus rhyme scheme around a girl named ‘McKenzie’, describing her, her life and his infatuation with her. Sang and rapped over a simple beat, Will plays with melody ideas, keeping the flow and pace of the song. In the second verse, he takes notes from Anne-Marie’s playbook; like her soon 2002 he references other pop songs.

I want that summertime sadness, where you at
She want a hot girl summer and a Louis bag
And a Gucci hat
You can borrow my hoodies but do you love me back?

After streaming the track about a thousand times, I just had to learn more about Will and how this well-crafted pop song came to be!

Thanks for joining me! You’ve just debuted with your new single McKenzie. How does it feel getting that out into the world?

A lot of relief. It’s been nearly 2 and a half years since I started taking my music production seriously to now finally releasing music as an artist. It’s an exciting and nervous time, but a lot of relief to be honest!

Can you take us through the writing process for this song? Did you start with the melody first, the beat or the concept?

I was working on some other tracks all afternoon and was getting ready to leave and had the lyrics for the chorus come into my head. Usually for me when the lyrics are on the page then the melody just dictates itself from there. I try not to overthink it and just trust my first instinct when it comes to melody.

How did you get into music production?

I think I was always into music production and DJ-ing from a young age. I had GarageBand on my school laptop and a free version of VirtualDJ and just really loved playing around on those programs for years. My life was focused on other things after high school. I got a job working in family entertainment on cruise ships overseas for a few years, but I managed to become friends with the HR team who ran the crew parties onboard and they let me DJ some parties and even ended up DJing the crew NYE party. After a couple years of being home on the Gold Coast, I had a little part of my brain and heart that wanted me to go back into producing music again, but more seriously than GarageBand and the free websites I had been using. 

Where do you see your music career in the next 5 years? 

I want to play big shows and festivals. Being on stage is a rush like no other. I think if I keep focusing on improving my music and making music that I like then everything should fall into place for me. 



2022 is an interesting landscape to move into the music industry after the impacts of COVID-19. How was your experience with this both positive and negative? Did you find lockdowns gave you more time to improve on production, songwriting etc? 

I feel like I turned that time of early 2020 being stuck inside into a positive by focusing solely on producing for upwards of 9 hours a day. I would wake up and watch YouTube tutorials on how to produce different genres of music while I had a coffee and breakfast. I still watch HEAPS of video tutorials on music production. I like to call it ‘YouTube University’ because it’s basically a free education from some of the most respected producers that are going around at the moment. 

Snowballing from this, the pandemics had huge impacts on the local community. To show some love, who are some of your favourite local or national artists you think need a little more love?

I love going to local dive bars and shows to see local acts perform. It’s so inspiring. I got to see DENNIS. perform last year and I’ve been a huge fan since. The same night I saw TOM who’s been releasing a song every month since late last year, his lyricism and production is always so good. Also VELVET TRIP is another band I’ve been following for a few years. Their music really captures your attention from the moment you press play. If you want a new track for your “I found this cool band before my friends” playlist, then definitely check out Hurricane by Velvet Trip.

If you could be the opening act for any artist, dead or alive, who would you open for? 

The late Juice Wrld. He had already achieved so much in a very short career before he passed, and he always packed out shows. It would have been awesome to see him live and also open for him. 

As a self-produced artist, what’s the number one tip you’d give for anyone else looking to learn more about DIY bedroom production? Any hot tips on how to approach a session? 

I mentioned it earlier, but I’ll say it again… YouTube tutorials. Genius do a great series on YouTube called ‘Deconstructed’ where the producers of huge hits break down how they made the song.

But my biggest tip. You can do most music production for free! I did most of my early production on a free software called Cakewalk and that was great until I wanted to speed up my workflow, but I still use that program for recording vocals, mixing and mastering. Don’t spend all your money on the first VST you come across. Everything has a free alternative. Buy a good pitch correction software though. Reddit is a great place to find free drum sounds and cool one shots. Basically, save your money to pay for someone to mix and master your music, or buy good plugins to do those things yourself. Don’t spend all your budget the moment you start making music. 

What’s your favourite song right now? 

I can’t pick just 1, so my top 5 in my Spotify ‘On Repeat’ right now is:
1. One Punch – Aries
2. Halo – Jay Kim
3. Nosering – Brakence feat. 50 Landing
4. Icee Pop – Nic D
5. McKenzie – Will Carlson

And finally, what does the rest of the year look like for Will Carlson?

I want to consistently release music. I’ve been working really hard on a bigger project that I’m aiming for an early July release, but I have another couple of tracks that I’d like to release later this year too. 


McKenzie is available now on all platforms
Listen HERE


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