I met Will The Thrill (aka William Ardourel) through Austin Yoshino—who’s in Hawai‘i and knew that our Q4 2020 print edition was running an esports article about student gamers at Hawai‘i Pacific University (https://issuu.com/digitalunicorn/docs/q4_issue_10.09.2020). Based in Honolulu, Will’s been performing locally as part of the six-member Kinetic Sounds Entertainment group so Austin connected us by email.
In April 2019, Carina Nocon for Hawai‘i University-Honolulu’s student-run media outlet “Ka Leo” said that, while Kinetic Sounds is “playing mainly Hip Hop/Rap or whatever they feel the crowd wants to hear, these self-taught DJs (make) sure whoever attends their events has just as much fun—if not more—than they do throwing them.”
Will The Thrill’s experiences, views on the future of music and insights into live and virtual entertainment trends got me thinking: What can we learn from him? So I set up and interview.
STEVE: How long have you been DJing and creating music?
WILL: I started DJing about three years ago and started creating music shortly after. I was introduced to it all by a friend of mine in college. From the moment I started DJing and producing music, I fell in love with it. I knew it was something I wanted to turn into a career.
STEVE: What’s the typical background of today’s Techno/EDM deejay?
WILL: It’s hard to say that there’s a “typical” DJ experience. Everyone comes from a different background and we all started differently. We all have our different styles and ways of working. I’d say one thing we typically all have in common is our love for music and that it’s a community.
STEVE: What does it cost to get started?
WILL: Music equipment can get really expensive but, if DJing is something you think you might be interested in, you can start on a fairly low budget. All you need is a laptop, controller, headphones and speakers. Assuming most people already have a laptop, you can purchase everything else at around $500 total. If you’re looking at getting higher-end equipment, it’ll cost you a couple thousand.
STEVE: Tell our readers what type of music you create, the number of events you perform, where and average audience size.
WILL: I like to create a wide variety of music. Depending on my mood or what inspires me at the time, I’ll make anything from Hip Hop, Trap and Dubstep to other House Music. I like to be able to create the same kind of music that I play when I DJ. Before the coronavirus, I’d typically play about 25 to 30 shows a year mostly in Honolulu at various clubs and event centers across the island. On average, most of the venues had a capacity ranging from 500 to 1,000—some even as high as 1,500 to 2,000.
STEVE: In terms of industry, have you seen a return of any live events?
WILL: A couple live events have returned since coronavirus but nothing like (before it). Venues would hold about half the capacity, masks would be required and they’d do their best to follow CDC guidelines. There have been some outdoor drive-in events, as well, but I’ve only seen one or two of those.
STEVE: What are some popular local venues for live and virtual events?
WILL: Some of the more popular ones are Artistry, The District Nightclub, Hawaiian Brian’s, NextDoor, The Republik and Kapolei Events Center—just to name a few. As for virtual events, those tend to be held on Twitch.
STEVE: Have you seen 100-percent cancellation of live events? And when do you think they’ll make a return?
WILL: Live events have been non-existent to say the least. All the stay-at-home orders and a high volume of coronavirus cases across the U.S. have made it difficult to have live events again. I don’t think they’ll return until there’s either a vaccine or an extended period of time with no new cases. A lot of shows and festivals (are) pushed back to Summer 2021. Even then there … have to be new safety measures installed in order to ensure a healthy environment for everyone.
STEVE: Have you seen a trend toward virtual events, looked into streaming or used streaming services?
WILL: Virtual events became really popular at the beginning of the quarantines with at least one stream happening every weekend. Major companies like Insomniac and Brownies and Lemonade were hosting live streams all the time. In recent months, virtual streams have been very quiet. There almost haven’t been any. I have looked into streaming services (i.e., Twitch) myself and have considered holding a stream of my own. But I still have yet to be part of or hold my own DJ live stream. I’ve been focusing a lot on producing music and improving my skills.
STEVE: What can the average DJ earn per live gig versus virtual?
WILL: The amount of money a DJ makes varies drastically depending on how big they are. A big name artist can make 10s of thousands of dollars sometimes—even six figures, whereas a resident club DJ would typically make a couple hundred to a couple thousand. Some people are able to turn it into a full time job, whereas for others it’s more of a side gig or hobby. On virtual streams, DJs don’t typically make any money; they tend to be fundraisers for charity or a specific cause depending on the host of the live stream’s choice.
STEVE: What size audiences are we talking about?
WILL: Live events tend to range anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 depending on if it’s a small concert or a major music festival. Live streams, on the other hand, have no capacity. The only limit is the marketing the artist or company does beforehand and their following. You can have anywhere from a few hundred people to thousands of people (watching and listening).
STEVE: When do you anticipate playing live again? As in, when do you think the live event industry will return to pre-coronavirus levels?
WILL: I don’t think I’ll be playing events again until Spring/Summer of 2021. I think it’s gonna take a lot of work for live events to make a return. I think that once there’s a vaccine and there’s no longer a pandemic, live events will be back to how they were before coronavirus. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if live events had restrictions from the government or safety measures in place long after the pandemic is over to ensure that there’s no second outbreak.
STEVE: Thanks for talking with us!
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