The Orion

Q&A: Kyle Williams, soulful singer-songwriter

Jeffrey Fox

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Kyle Williams Sings For Students at Chcio State

Local singer-songwriter Kyle Williams shared his rich melodies and flair for song writing at A.S. Productions‘ second “Nooner” performance in Trinity Commons on Wednesday. The Orion spoke with him about his roots, competing for a gig on national television and his initial insecurities about changing his image.

The Orion: Where are you from?

Kyle Williams: I’ve been in Chico a long time. I actually went to school up in Paradise. I traveled all around before that. I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My parents split up when I was three and my mom and I moved to Southern California and lived all up and down the coast before landing in Paradise.

The Orion: How long have you been performing?

Williams: I’ve been performing for about nine years now. I’ve been pursuing it as a career for about six or seven. I started playing drums when I was 16 and a couple years later picked up a guitar and started messing around with writing songs. It wasn’t too long after that I was at Butte College and then doing a few classes at Chico State. I got involved with Wild Oak (Songwriters Collective) club workshops and they did a showcase. I was one of the winners, so I got to play at Moxie’s Cafe. That was like my first show and that was in December of 2008.

The Orion: On your website there are three photos of you: one with dreadlocks, one with half your head shaved and “image isn’t everything” on your forehead and one with no hair. What’s the story there?

Williams: I had dreadlocks for 12 years and I loved them, but really felt like it was time for a change. It was scary, because (my hair) really became a big part of my personal identity, let alone with music where image is so important. It was really a big insecurity I had; Am I gonna be me still? Are people gonna see me the same if I don’t have my hair? Most of the people in my life had only ever known me with the dreadlocks.

My buddy Steve has this thing called the What I Be Project. He goes all over the world and all over campuses. The project is about putting your insecurities out there by writing it on your face. (People) will say ‘I’m not my anxiety,’ ‘I’m not my depression,’ ‘I’m not my homosexuality.’ So I met up with Steve, and we did three photos. It’s a super cool project.

The Orion: What’s up next for you?

Williams: I’m doing this singer-songwriter competition through Guitar Center. It is a social media thing, where you put a song on there and people have to watch, follow and share your video and that will put you up in the ranks. From the top one hundred, they pick the best five. Those five people get flown down to Hollywood to play at The Troubadour and a panel of judges picks the best. That person gets to do a four-song EP with producer Don Was…and play on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. It’s a major career boost. I’m (also) doing some really cool local shows like the Led Zepplin IV show on Saturday (Sept. 13) at the (Bell Memorial Union Auditorium).


Jeffrey Fox can be reached at [email protected] or @FoxyJeff on Twitter.

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Q&A: Kyle Williams, soulful singer-songwriter