When you have a child, you start to see the world through their eyes. It’s not always easy, but you learn to appreciate their uniqueness and you start to understand their desires and needs. One of the first people I noticed had changed was Will Poulter. He was no longer the happy-go-lucky kid I used to know; now he was a serious young man with eyes that followed every move I made.
Poulter’s journey to stardom had begun when he was only 15 years old. He picked up the guitar and wrote his first song, “Walking on Sunshine”, when he was still at school. At the age of 16, he formed a band with some friends and they began playing gigs around London. In 2014, Poulter released his debut solo album, “Stargazing”, which went on to become one of the best-selling independent albums of the year. Since then, he has been nominated for Brit Award for British Album of the Year and performed at some of the biggest events in the world, including the Glastonbury Festival.
Poulter grew up in a musical family. His mother is a classically trained singer who also plays the piano and his father is a guitar player. He started taking lessons at the age of five and since then, he has been immersed in music. It was no surprise, then, that Poulter became enamored with the idea of being a solo artist and began trying to make a career out of it. In between gigs, he would write songs and even though he was only a teenager, his music already had an adult feel to it. Poulter’s unique voice and soaring guitar work had audiences and critics alike swooning.
Loving The Sustainability Of Music
Music is a powerful medium and a key component to any teenager’s life. It can be a source of entertainment, inspiration and relaxation – all within the same song. However, not all musicians are created equal and it is a well-established fact that the music industry contributes significantly to climate change. Not only do they use a lot of energy playing live concerts and festivals, but the manufacture of CDs, DVDs and computer games also uses a lot of energy. In addition, millions of plastic discs are thrown away every year and when they break down, they’re usually discarded too. All of this is enough reason for musicians to consider going green, but it’s not only about the environment. There are also financial and creative benefits to be reaped from going eco-friendly.
Eco-friendly musicians are known as “sustainers” and they use instruments and equipment made from renewable resources such as natural wood, bamboo or plastic recyclables. When you become a sustainer, you’re guaranteed to see an immediate difference in how you are perceived by audiences. People who buy tickets to your shows expect you to be playing your music on an instrument that isn’t harming the environment and there’s nothing more satisfying than giving them what they want. In addition to that, you’ll also be able to experiment with different sounds and see how your audience responds to them. Sustainers are also more likely to retain their audience and inspire creativity in others because they are more accessible. Children especially love music and animals respond to it too. Many musicians have stated that playing music is both a relaxing and a therapy session for them and that’s exactly how they want to be perceived – as a healer.
I first heard of Will Poulter when he played “Walking on Sunshine” alongside other solo acts at the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards. It is not the usual practice for the BAFTA to host awards for musicians, but Poulter’s performance was so moving that they decided to do something different. Poulter is a solo act, but he brings his family and friends to accompany him on stage. It is a moving tribute to his late father, who died from cancer when Poulter was only nine years old. Poulter’s voice cracks and he visibly sobs as he sings the solo part. The audience is almost completely silent and when he finishes, there is a stunned pause before everyone starts to clap. “Walking on Sunshine” is one of Poulter’s most well-known and popular songs, but it’s the story behind the song that makes it special. It is a lament for his father, who struggled with depression his whole life. Poulter decided to dedicate the song to his dad and to other peoples’ parents who are undergoing the same ordeal. He writes:
“There’s nothing I can do to change the way you feel,
Don’t let the storm clouds that are haunting you
Keep you from the sunshine I tried to give you,
I wish I could have done more to make you proud
To see your son become such a wonderful man.”
Poulter was touched by the experience of singing “Walking on Sunshine” and he was determined to make his music career a testament to his own personal story and struggles. After the award ceremony, I contacted Will and he graciously agreed to an interview. In addition to “Walking on Sunshine”, Poulter has written music for films and television shows, but he is mostly known for his solo work. He doesn’t see himself as a one-trick pony and is open to collaborating with other musicians and creating something new. When I asked Poulter about his solo career, he humbly replied:
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to pursue music and to have found a way to express myself through it. It’s been an incredible journey so far and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”
The Solo Career
In the years that followed, I would occasionally hear about new music talent from Ireland. Generally, these people would either be playing in bands or would take the alternative route of creating their own music. One person who rose to prominence in this way was Conor McKeon. Like Poulter, McKeon is also a guitar player and he has played in various bands, all of which have released albums. However, he is best known for his solo work. His music is a mix of blues, rock and roll and he makes extensive use of the ukulele, which he calls his “mini-guitar”. It is fitting that Will Poulter and Conor McKeon both went into music as a career, as they both possess the gift of melody. However, it is more than music they have in common. They are both part of a movement towards sustainable and green music and they want to inspire other musicians to do the same. When asked about sustainability, Poulter replied:
“I really believe that we have to look at the bigger picture if we’re to make any kind of impact. Sure, it’s great if musicians can bring about more awareness about climate change, but if we don’t address the larger issues, all we’re doing is avoiding one problem while creating another.”
“I think that Will’s attitude is very admirable. He’s chosen a path that he believes in and he’s stuck to it. He’s never wavered from his vision and that’s what makes him a truly great performer; he’s not afraid to take a stand.” – Conor McKeon
Poulter’s Solo Career: Highlights
Poulter’s journey to music superstardom was relatively quick. He had risen to fame at such a young age that it was hard to believe that he was already a professional at 16. Not only did he play in various bands and write his own songs, but he also composed the music and lyrics for a stage production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies”. Poulter’s impressive resume already had people taking notice, but he was just getting started. In 2010, he released his debut album, “Don’t Give Up” and it went on to become one of the best-selling independent albums of the year. Since then, he has consistently delivered hit albums. In 2015, he joined forces with producer John Fry on “A Song Written in Memory of Elizabeth Taylor” and in 2018, he released “The Island”, a record that debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart. It became his highest-charting album to date.