In September 2016, DJ/producer Will Eastman played an open to close set at DC’s renowned U Street Music Hall. While not uncommon for Eastman – in part because he’s the founder/owner of UHall and prone to surprise sets – the night was different as he was joined behind the decks by a dense roster of special guests — all there to help him do a live premiere of his debut album, Hilo. The energy generated by that first listen was purely electric, and all present left abuzz with one question in mind: When will I be able to listen to Hilo in full, and on repeat?
Nearly seven months later, we have our answer. Will Eastman has released Hilo and we’re elated to be premiering it on Daily Beat — here’s what he has to say about the piece:
Hilo (pron. hē-lō) is a soundtrack of transformation, of leaving who one is in order to become who one needs to be.
In 2014, my life was turned upside down when I learned I had been adopted. Everything I thought I knew about my origin was untrue, a fabrication. As an artist, I began to produce music that became an audio description of my life during this experience, from thoughts and feelings of levity and absurdity, to despair and prolapse. All the elevated emotions are documented here.
To make sense of this surprise life turn and thrive, I had to face the experience of dying while being alive, becoming reborn while trying to hold dearly to whom I’d been. All the while, I gave the experiences within my head a voice through music.
Hilo is named for the town and airport on the island of Hawaii where I first landed to meet my birth father’s family. All of the tracks here were begun and edited on airplanes and trains, fitting the transformational aspects of this journey.
Art is identity. I couldn’t release this album without giving the listener context for it. What you hear is the inner dialogue of adventure, illumination, anxiety, and facing a terrifying yet ultimately beautiful unknown.
This is my story, but it is also a narrative–as old as Greek mythology–of anyone or group who has faced crisis and survived, emerging galvanized and more spiritually complete.
Allow me to take you on a ride.
Thank you: Nick Garcia for his excellent mixing and mastering assistance. Guest vocalist collaborators, John Thornley, Ameer Dyson, Bernard Farley, Patrick Baker, Alex Tebeleff, and Rachel Wong for giving voice to the yearning and searching aspects of these songs. My family and friends, especially Mallory, for priceless feedback and for standing with me throughout the highs and lows of this crazy experience that have come together to form this album.