Sound & Vision: Rudy Willingham on his Album Dunk Reactions

Sound and Vision
John Richards

Rudy Willingham is a DJ, producer, designer, copywriter, street artist, photographer and videographer. Earlier this year, he self-released the album Dunk Reactions – which is influenced by everything from Daft Punk’s French house to Tame Impala’s psychedelic rock. Sound & Vision host John Richards sat down with Willingham to talk about his production process and how he built an audience.

On the samples in his song “Pool Party”:

It's just like my art, where I'm taking two different samples and combining them together. The vocal sample is from this YouTube video of these girls walking down a hotel hallway to the pool and their instructor is leading them in this chant, it’s like a 10 second clip. I was like, oh, my God — that's the catchiest hook I've ever heard. I need to put a beat to this, and I had this old funk sample I've always wanted to use, but it just didn't feel finished without vocals. I felt like it just needed something over the top of it. So, I immediately had that come to mind, put it together and I was just like, oh my God, this is like meant to be. The universe had created these two songs to come together. It's like musical tinder.

On his book Cut It Out Seattle!

I have this art style, I explain as street art with paper and so I take little paper cutouts and I'll place them in front of objects around the city and create a form of collage art. For instance, the cover of my book is The Space Needle, underneath it is a little green beam with Jeff Bezos been abducted into it.

On using social media to build an audience:

Just having good music isn't enough anymore. You need connections. I was putting out music and literally no one was listening to it except for my wife. And so, I was just like, well, I'll just make music for you, I guess. But I realized I need to build an audience. That's why I started my Instagram page, because it's like I need to build an audience that I own, that no one else is in charge of. And so, I had the full album [Dunk Reactions] done maybe a couple of years ago. But I wanted to wait until I had a big enough following where I thought people would listen to it.

KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear more stories in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every Tuesday. Subscribe now.

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