By Jonathan Crane
CALGARY — At the onset of 2017, Sean Williams, also known as Worthy, doesn’t have any manifesto-like declarations about what he thinks dance music needs to do in the new year, he’d simply like to see a bit less cheese.
“My wish before was for it to get a little bit more mainstream and people to take notice, and that’s kind of happened,” says Williams. “At this point I’d like to see a little bit less cheesiness within in it I guess, the music’s become a little bit too poppy.”
He laughs while saying this, a sign that he probably doesn’t get too worked up about what’s happening in the underground or the overground. He’s spent the entirety of his career building his own movements, first as a co-founder of the Dirtybird parties in Golden Gate Park, and then as the founder of Anabatic records.
The last three years in particular have not only propelled him to new heights, they’ve taught him more about how to keep innovating as an artist.
In 2014 he released his first full-length album, Disbehave. Two years before its release, Williams found himself feeling confined by routine.
“Before I was doing the album I was just like, ‘I got to make this banger track, I got to make this big dance floor hit,’ and I just hit this wall this one day,” says Williams. “I just opened up my Ableton program, and I just started writing this really different track.”
This deviation away from the familiar then became one of the album’s central themes.
“Just from that one track, and just feeling kind of burned out on making the big dance floor tracks, that inspired me to start writing an album that was more of a listening piece rather than a bunch of dance floor hits,” says Williams.
Last year saw Williams transition back into making singles, and this new focus stayed imbued in his productions.
“From writing the album I definitely felt I grew exponentially as an artist, just from exploring all the different sounds that I allowed myself to get into,” says Williams. “And I think I’ve taken that into my productions as well, that I’ve done since then.”
This is why many of his productions over the last year have been released on labels other than Dirtybird and Anabatic.
“Moving from [the album] I decided I wanted to get back into just working on tracks, and trying to get on some different labels that I haven’t explored before, and just expose my sound to a broader audience by doing these collaboration with these other labels and their fan bases,” says Williams. “Just to kind of build up my name a little bit more in a different way, a different organic way.”
He cites Defected Records, in particular, as a label that tends to differ substantially from the Dirtybird, bass-infused sound.
“It’s refreshing, and artistically keeps me happy and thinking forward,” says Williams. “So yeah, after I finish a track done in a different direction, it’s like ‘okay where does this fit in?’”
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Anabatic, and to celebrate Williams is releasing a compilation of some of the central tracks in the label’s history.
“I just want to do a retrospective of all those really good songs that I’ve had the opportunity to put out there for all these different artists,” says Williams.
With all the roles that Williams has played over the years, it’s apparent that his central role is that of a progenitor. Whatever direction his music takes, the road ahead is one that will continue to be decidedly his, decidedly Worthy.
Worthy brings his One on One tour to the Hifi Club on February 23rd.AB, Alberta, HIFI Club, Worthy