At the beginning of 2011, Will took up a residency at the 606 jazz club in Chelsea, performing to between 50-100 strong audiences a night. It was just one pit-stop in a series of key events that led to the event of his beautifully personal fifth studio album, Echoes. ‘You have to remember that my first gig was in Wembley Arena,’ he says ‘I’ve had to go backwards in ten years to get to where I want to be.’ The intimacy of these gigs was not about trading down, it was about a subtler shift that has marked Will’s career in the ten years of his triumph; prizing creativity over commerce.
His trajectory has been a fascinatingly new model for pop - implicitly asking the question as to whether the ticker-tape finale of the instant returns of reality-approved pop can equate with art. With Echoes, he may just have answered it.
A long enough time has passed now for Will to contemplate his entrance into the giddy pop stratosphere philosophically. "Half of my brand was created the first time I was on TV. The other half was Leave Right Now."
Echoes is clearly about developing new taste levels for Will. During the making of the record he took a sabbatical to Serbia to watch patiently his investment co-producing a Ralph Fiennes directed and starring film treatment of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. It helped flex another intellectual and creative muscle for the artist. ‘The story of Coriolanus is amazing. It’s very political, obviously but it’s also Shakespeare’s noisiest play. It has the most stage direction for music. The parallels to now are so weirdly on it - the watering down of the elitism of politics and having to take it to the masses.’ Clearly, Will has started thinking about the bigger picture not just with Echoes.