(By: Angela McLean)
Former Ryersonian Will Bowes, a 2012 graduate of Radio and Television Arts, has had an exciting summer. He filmed his first Netflix show (Spinning Out, with January Jones and Kaya Scodelario), finished his debut album, played his first solo show (a sizable crowd at Toronto’s Drake Hotel earlier this month) and just released his debut single “Runway Lights.” Simply put, according to the up-and-comer, “it all feels amazing.” And this is just the beginning.
Bowes, who said sitting down with RUtv News was like “bringing it back where it all began,” shared the inside scoop on writing on planes, bouncing back and how Ryerson helped shape the artist he is today.
How does it feel to have “Runway Lights” out in the world for everyone to hear?
When you work on any project, especially any artistic project, it’s such a long time coming. I wrote this song a couple of years ago and it’s been a dream come true to have a debut single that I’m performing on various television morning shows and stuff. I couldn’t be happier.
You wrote “Runway Lights” while on a plane, so it has a very fitting title. What story does the song tell for you?
It’s a breakup banger! The title was very intentional. I was getting over a breakup and travelling at the time and on planes a bunch. I kept on looking out at the coloured runway lights that were like glowing and fading and they kind of weirdly symbolized that state I was in, of transitions and departures and arrivals and change and new beginnings. So, I remember just wanting to use that kind of symbol and then writing the song on a plane.
You have also been promoting a song that hits close to home called “Mad at The World.” Can you share more about its message?
I wrote this song after the Toronto Danforth shootings that happened a year ago today actually (July 22). I think we were all feeling really emotionally affected and I think we felt that our Canadian values were threatened. It was really wonderful to perform the song again to be able to commemorate the anniversary and really represent that social and political message.
What’s the status on your debut album?
The album is definitely done! I’d say it will be out sometime in the first quarter of 2020. Until that point, I’m just going to keep releasing singles and keep playing shows and keep promoting it as much as I can. The album vibe is definitely adult contemporary and pop.
We’re also chatting ahead of your debut solo (and hometown) show with Boston-based band Juice. How would you describe your live set?
It’s all for me really about a fun, electric energy that gets people moving and feeling really positive, included and joyful. I just saw Steven Tyler last year and I’ve always loved his stage persona, his presence and like, he really just doesn’t give a f–k and that translates so well. I think that’s what people are looking for in a lot of artistry – just general authenticity and he’s definitely a good inspiration for me for that.
Your name may be familiar to fans of Degrassi and Degrassi: Next Class. What was your experience like being part of that show’s legacy?
I was only on the show as an actor for one episode. My primary involvement was being their digital producer, so shooting and editing all of the online content for the series. It really helped me foster a skillset that I still carry with me today. It also introduced me to Rob Wells, my album producer, because I directed the opening sequence for the series and Rob produced the song that went underneath the visuals that I directed. It was a really kind of wonderful gateway into his world and you never know how one thing is going to feed into another.
You sing, write, act and produce. Do you find those different art forms complement each other?
They do! I would say that at the end of the day they’re all about telling stories; they’re all about communicating different thoughts and ideas and emotions and so they definitely find a way to blend into each other. I think that as an actor you’re having to kind of portray a character and think about the different qualities that would go into that human behaviour. For music, I’m still playing a character but the character is much more myself.
You just wrapped production in Toronto on the upcoming Netflix series Spinning Out. Can you tell us about your character, Brent, and how he plays into the show?
That show will also be out in the first quarter of 2020. I kind of like to describe it as Riverdale meets I, Tonya, so it’s like love and relationships, love triangles but then has a really competitive figure skating and competitive skiing element to it. I play the leader of a ski team and it was absolutely the role of a lifetime to get.
I think when you’re an actor in Toronto it’s rare that you get to work alongside January Jones and Kaya Scodelario in a Netflix show. You spend years broke and thinking that you’re going to have to change career paths completely, but it’s the perseverance that ultimately gets you these things that are happening right now. I’m very happy that I stuck with it because there were many times when I debated my entire life!
How would you describe your Ryerson experience and how it got you to where you are as a multi-faceted artist today?
We got to make different short films and I was able to include the music I was working on in my private time in those short films at times, so it was fun to be able to marry those things. But Ryerson was primarily filmmaking for me, and writing, and I absolutely loved it. I think when you have a program that is so hands-on and competitive you really get a lot of more one-on-one attention with the teachers, which I thought was wonderful, especially when you’re working with anything artistic. And they just had so much amazing gear. Believe me, when you leave Ryerson you regret not taking it out every single day.
Why should our RUtv News audience keep you on their radar?
I’m a fellow Ryerson grad who’s making the fun, relatable music that will inspire your summer more than it already has.
(Header photo: Angela McLean/RUtv News)