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Canadian Urban Legend Wes ‘MAESTRO’ Williams – Still Bringing the Music to Us After All These Years

Canadian Urban Legend Wes ‘MAESTRO’ Williams – Still Bringing the Music to Us After All These Years

MAESTRO has evolved past his “Let Your Backbone Slide” days, but people still associate him with his first hit 15 years ago. Does that bother him? No way! For MAESTRO it is through his accomplishments as an artist that he has evolved and looks fondly back on his early years with pride.

To date no one has exceeded the levels of accomplishments that MAESTRO has achieved. To date, 7 music awards, 7 albums, 11 JUNO nominations, Gold and Platinum albums, Gold singles and a mixture of other awards in film/T.V and personal achievements. All of this, plus a film and television career? No wonder his latest album is called Urban Landmark 1989-2005 – it’s obvious he has made his mark, now let’s see where he goes from here!

One of my very first interviews on radio was with MAESTRO, back when I was working at York University radio, he was a special guest on a show called, ” The Cutting Edge”. I realized back then after our brief hour together on the show, that this is one hell of a passionate man! He is passionate about what he does, whom he speaks to, what he involves himself with and most of all passionate about MUSIC. It is the same passion I saw and felt when we (Liesa Norman and I) sat down with him the day before his CD release party. He truly is “conductin’ thangs” now more than ever, his life a full blown “Symphony in Effect” – just goes to show you he is “Built to Last”


You seem to have a love affair with Canadian contemporary and rock artists? This is not the average approach to hip hop is it?

WES- Janet Jackson sampled Joni Mitchell, that is a lot farther apart than me, a Canadian artists, sampling another Canadian artist. See?

Yes, but you are the only one that has been acknowledged for doing it.

WES- No, Swollen Members did it too, but not a lot of people know they did a track with Sarah MacLachlan that was HOT. This was off their last album…..I don’t know WHY those guys did not make it the single, it was so hot!

To date you have worked “with” HAYWIRE, GUESS WHO and now Gowan!

WES- It is just something I like to do. Take Canadian rock records and just revamp them. I have these albums, I like them- I collect them.

So, within the song that you are listening to, you hear another song?

Orlena, Hip Hop up n’comer Subliminal, Liesa WES- yeah, yeah. Like when I heard “Stick to Your Vision” (track off his last album, that sampled The Guess Who’s – These Eyes)- I was like….Whooooo! That was a nice reflective song to talk about what you been through and inspirational at the same time.

So that was a favourite?

WES- Hell, yeah! (chuckles)

Lyrically do you find that the words come first or does the music?

WES- There is no specific formula. A concept may come first and then the music after. You know I never try to assimilate – I try to innovate.

So your latest track, Criminal Mind with Larry Gowan- was that something that you heard within the song, or was that something you conceptualized on your own?

(l-r) Orlena, Actor-Richard Leacock, Liesa WES- Nah. It was more like the original version was talking about being a criminal and having a criminal mind. I had the take on it of the justice system being more criminal. But, at the same time, we as a community not being in a position where we are more followers, rather than being the leaders that we should be. In life you have to be a leader and STOP MAKING EXCUSES for whatever! With the song I just put my own little spin on it. What I love is that Randy Bachman and Larry Gowan, both like what I did with the song.

Were you in the studio with Larry Gowan?

WES- Nah. I was in his living room when I played him the track when it was done and I saw the hair stand up on his arms. Then we went downstairs to watch his video from Criminal Mind and then my new one, that he is in. The video is full rotation now – it’s just BANANAS!

Do you find the violence is accurate to what the media portrays? Or do you really feel that there is a surge of violence within minorities?

The Showstoppers(ctre) Maestro

and Kardinal Offishall WES- Yeah, Yeah (as he sighs). It is a bit of both. A bit of sensationalism still occurs though. But, to me it is embarrassing for all people that we carry on like that with each other. We don’t have to be like that. We have lost our ability to “talk” to one another. My question is how did the guns get here in the first place? Who is bringing them into the country? That is the last line in my song Criminal Mind. I come from a good place and I hope that people gravitate toward what it is that I am doing.

The album, which came out August 23, has 5 new hits?

WES- The album does not really have five NEW hits, but 5 previously unreleased songs. These tracks have been out before, but just on radio and more as singles that were unavailable for purchase.

Well, your greatest hits album, is going cover the span of your career – are you prepared to do any of those moves you used to spin for “Let your Backbone Slide”.

R&B Sweetie Melanie DurrantWES- Oh yeah. I am going to have a full-blown show! Choreography, the works..it is going to be hot to death!

You are still hot to death after all these years. You still have the same fever and flavour that you had when you were younger. It is good to see! What are you listening to in your car right now? Do you have any music influences?

WES- Right now I am listening to myself (outbreak of laughter from us all). I have my show CD in and I am practicing that over and over again.

Laughter aside, you have a reputation to upkeep, if you don’t come correct you know people are going to be writing about it! Watching and waiting for you to fall..or just all off the stage!

What a night!WES- That’s fine…watch…just keep watching!

We will!

FYI- The next day MAESTRO came with it and blew the roof off the MOD CLUB! The place was packed, people were bumpin’ to his hits and when he let us have the final track…it was all over. Hey! When MAESTRO left the stage – everyone else left.