- He’s won international awards for Best Pop Album of the Year. He’s gotten his big break in Hollywood. And he’s managed by music producer and former American Idol judge, Randy Jackson. So who is Willie Tay, aka Wiltay?
Long story short, the 28-year-old singer-songwriter loved music from a very young age and studied it proper at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, before using his equally great skills of persuasion—and essay writing—to be granted a semester at the Hollywood Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. A few years went by without the break he needed, until a family holiday in Madrid saw him casually strumming and singing in a park, only to be discovered by members of the Spanish film society, which led to a series of events that got him signed to an international press agent and Warner Music Singapore. A few awards, celebrity parties and dance-pop track releases later, we caught up with Wiltay on his most recent trip back home to Singapore to find out a little more about his music firsts, secret talents, and kiss with Katy Perry.
Who was your childhood musical icon, and why?
- Chris Martin from Coldplay. I just like the way he translates all the hardships and challenging times in life into something beautiful.
What song gets you in the mood, and why?
- I would say “Big Jet Plane” by Angus and Julia Stone. Because it’s very sweet, soft, and just gives you that feeling of playing the guitar on your couch. Cosy.
What is the one secret talent you have besides singing?
- It happens in bed, it makes you feel really good, and you have to close your eyes for it: Sleeping.
If you weren’t a singer, what would you be, and why?
- I’d be a doctor. I used to get sick often when I was much younger, and I always wanted to be that person who saved others and made people feel better. But I guess I’m making people feel better in my own way through music now.
What were your music firsts?
- The first album was passed down to me from my sister, Backstreet Boys’ Millennium. The first song I learnt? 晴天 by Jay Chou. First concert was Coldplay years ago when I was a kid—I didn’t really fully understand what music was about, and I just remember dancing and losing one of shoes by the end of the night…I still do that all the time though.
Which musician, dead or alive, do you wish to share the stage with, and why?
- Katy Perry. I met her once in L.A. at her best friend’s birthday party that she specially flew down for. We share the same vocal coach so we got introduced and as she leaned in to say “Hi Will, nice to meet you”, I kissed her on her cheek—and all I can say is that I kissed a girl and I liked it.
If there’s one song you could sing again and again for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
- Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake. It’s a happy song about dancing all the time, and I think in life, you have to dance through not just the good times but the difficult times.
Additional reporting by Pakkee Tan. Video by Elton Chong.