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In the studio with Prod. by Last Will
Jaz from the RepostExchange Team
Jul. 05, 2023

Welcome to the musical world of William Perry, aka Prod. by Last Will, a seasoned producer who has been crafting beats and melodies for over a decade. With a unique blend of Trap, R&B, and Lo-fi/boom-bap influences, Will has carved a distinct path in the music industry, captivating listeners with his authentic and emotionally-charged compositions. Will provides a captivating insight into the world of a dedicated producer who has overcome numerous challenges to create music that resonates deeply with listeners. With his unwavering commitment to personal growth, Will continues to evolve, leaving an indelible mark on the music industry. So sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the creative journey of Last Will.

How long have you been producing music and how did you learn? 

Oh, man! You're really gonna make me show my age with this one. Well, I started producing at 16 and I have just turned 29 this year.

When I first got into production, there were no tutorials online like there are now; I had to learn by trial and error, unfortunately. But being that I already knew how to read music from being in band for several years prior, the fundamental music theory translated well into composing beats.

What DAW(s) do you use and why?

I am primarily an FL Studio gang member, but I went to school for audio design and became an Avid-certified Pro Tools user as well. To be frank, I would suggest other aspiring producers learn how to engineer as well (and vice versa).

Being versatile could very well be the key that opens up doors you never would've encountered had you been just another beatmaker. The way I see things, you are expected to make beats as a producer. But what separates you from the other producers?

Can you play instruments? Can you track vocals? Can you mix and master?

Having a vault of fire beats alone isn't enough these days. Pair that vault with another skill, or learn another DAW.

In fact, I just recently purchased new Akai gear so I can dabble around with Ableton. We'll see what happens...

What are your favourite pieces of gear and why?

That's a pretty tough question to answer. I've bought some amazing equipment over the years.

However, my Akai MPK Mini is probably the piece with the most sentimental value. I remember back when I didn't have any gear at all - just an Asus laptop.

At the time, I was emphasizing more focus toward my artistry as compared to my production. My engineering mentor, Mike Onwubuya, suggested my first piece be no other than the MPK Mini. 25 keys, eight MPC-style drum pads, and eight assignable knobs. How could I say no? And I had to get the limited red & black edition to match my brand identity!

What are your favourite software plugins and why?

It's probably exactly what you're expecting me to say... Omnisphere!

I love how many talented producers and engineers develop their expansion banks to recreate unique sounds and textures.

Personally, I would say my strength as a producer revolves around Trap, R&B and Lo-fi/boom-bap-type-beats.

Omnisphere easily tackles the dark and haunting tones I want my melodies to resonate with.

Aside from making beats, I like to compose my own melodies as well. 

Keyscape is another VST I frequently use in my production workflow. It wasn't a cheap studio upgrade, but it was definitely worth it!

How would you summarise your approach/workflow when creating a track?

I typically operate based on emotions, whether it's writing a song or making a beat.

I tend to create my best work when I am disgruntled or anxious.

This is the norm for most creatives, I feel! When the feeling is provoked in us, the workflow becomes natural to us; it just flows.

You don't have to try when you're speaking your truth. The authenticity will show and that will make the difference between a song and a timeless record.

I've never cared for the titles of glory and admiration from my peers; I'm so introverted, I wouldn't want all that attention directed at me.

My ultimate goal is to become someone's genuine favourite. I don't need to be the best, but I for sure want to be someone's answer when they are asked, who is your favourite artist/producer?

What resources do you use to improve your craft?

I am a certified YouTube junkie - especially since I don't have cable at home.

Every Sunday, I pretend I'm surprised by my iPhone's screen time report. I'm very deserving of those outrageous hours, though.

Even Apple knows I have a healthy habit of seeking information and gaining insight. This may come via interviews (ProducerGrind), podcasts (Curtiss King), tutorials (Busy Works Beats) or maybe even behind-the-scenes breakdowns (Genius). I can watch Rhythm Roulette videos all day long - don't get me started!

There are so many gems outside to be discovered, you just have to do a little digging. That's why every day (literally), I do something to improve my music or my music business. I may not make beats every day, I may not even make a beat all week at times. But I can guarantee every day, I learned something new!

What is the last YouTube tutorial you watched that you would recommend to other Re-Ex members?

Oh, I thought you'd never ask! This video demonstrates three various techniques to ensure your mix translates well across mediums. 

For me, the car test holds the most weight in regard to testing your mixes. However, that does not necessarily mean that mix will sound good on phone speakers.

Audio University explains in just 10 minutes or so how to mediate this scenario.

What knowledge or advice do you wish you'd learned earlier?

Sometimes when I reflect on the choices I've made to get where I am, I think "I should've done this", or "I shouldn't have done that".

Two totally opposite sides of the spectrum, yet both of these decisions led me to where I feel I'm supposed to be.

Your life is a result of the choices you make, and sometimes even the ones you don't. But as you age, develop and mature, you have to be able to gauge when an opportunity is standing right in front of you. Sometimes we can be in our own way and block our blessings from plain sight. That was me for a few years, so I know firsthand how overwhelmingly frustrating this period can be. I was unmotivated and became depressed; I didn't release any music for four years!

It wasn't until I realized we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable to gain perspective. Once the puzzle pieces began to connect, it was like I knew all the answers I had questioned for years prior. Don't wait for that perfect moment to change your life - take control of your own destiny and grab life by the balls! You either take the risk or lose the opportunity. Be real, who is gonna fault you for trying? If ever you were looking for a sign; here it is: THE TIME IS NOW!

What challenges related to making music do you face and how do you overcome them?

My biggest challenge was just trying to be a normal, sane human being. Being creative is so draining, and people who are not creatives often do not understand how hard it can be. It's already such a struggle to maintain a healthy social life with your friends, especially if you are working while in college.

If you're an aspiring musician on top of being a student and an employee, now you must find time to make beats and/or content, post to numerous platforms, uphold your online brand reputation, register your music, etc. Your passion for music can become a hassle - very quickly. You just went from being a producer to damn near becoming your own full-time manager, business attorney, A&R, social media marketer, and so many other roles. Oh, and the best part of it is, you have a final exam tomorrow morning and you close tonight at work.

As demanding as it is, you HAVE to make sacrifices to make time to get the work done. You will never have enough time in a day until you master time management. I am a firm believer in delayed gratification. While my friends are out clubbing on the weekends, or travelling around the world on cruise ships, I am in the lab working like a mad scientist; and they 100% understand my aspirations, so there are no hard feelings if I can't make it. They know when I'm in position, it'll be a regular thing for us. Not everyone is blessed to have such understanding companions.

Can you share any killer tips or techniques?

Can I be real with you right now? Producers - do not master your beats.

I know this may be an unpopular opinion but let me explain myself. 

When a finished song is mixed and mastered, typically it will be levelled around unity gain, 0db.

If you go ahead and master the instrumental prior to any vocals being recorded on it, you are taking away headroom for the artist.

Think of each song as a 3-way collaboration, starting with the initial producer, adding the artist into the mix, and finalizing with the engineers for mixing and mastering.

If you (as the producer of the instrumental) went ahead to do the engineer's job, it throws the process a bit out of sequence and how the artist is left with an overly compressed track with no space sonically for vocals to sit in the mix. Just focus on making a fire beat and ensuring everything is gain staged and levelled well. 

My beats usually knock right around -3dB, that way the artist still has some room to work with.

Do you use any online tools to assist with the production process?

Of course, I do! And you know I'm no gatekeeper, so I will gladly share some of my bookmarked gems with you today (and these resources are all free, by the way).

1. Plugins via PluginBoutique

2. Free packs via ProducerGrind and Cymatics

Do you try and get feedback or suggestions to improve your music? If so, how?

Absolutely! I wouldn't be a very good artist if I ignored the feedback and constructive criticism.

I'm always reading my comments and replying to potential fans.

I'm aware that not every listener will be a fan of my music, but for someone who is unfamiliar with my music to give it a chance is tough.

I genuinely appreciate them taking the time to vibe with me. I don't intend to sound arrogant when I say this, but I'm wholeheartedly confident that the average listener will like my music if they heard it. It's just a matter of getting my music heard at this point.

Which track are you most proud of and why?

Honestly, I am most proud of my most recent release, 'One More Time'. At the time, I was 22 and spiralling out of control emotionally.

At the time, it just felt like everyone was kicking me while I was down - and I didn't feel very deserving of any of it.

I remember this very vividly. The dean of the school of music told me to my face I could not possibly do what I was already actively doing because I wasn't a classically trained pianist - and I'm still not. It was like music was being stripped away from me because I'm not a musician by their standards. I pretty much got kicked off campus because I didn't get recruited into the music program I was intending to major in - although I successfully passed multiple auditions. When I got home to tell my girlfriend the news, I felt the sand slipping through my fingers. That was the start of me losing my mind for a while. I've held onto that song for years and didn't release it because I'm not too open with my feelings. Or I wasn't before at least. Now I'm admittedly emotional and I don't try to hide it. I love love and spread good energy everywhere I go because I remember how it felt to feel like nothing even mattered, and now dreams are seemingly coming true. It's been a long time coming, but I overcame all the adversity. I decided to release the song as a note to myself.

Has RepostExchange affected the way you make music? If so, how?

When I was initially introduced to RepostExchange, I was experimenting with the free account. For nearly two years straight, I posted a new beat every Tuesday and Thursday the first year, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday the following year. This consistency led to me earning a verified profile on SoundCloud. Once I achieved that milestone, I was fully convinced of the Re-Ex magic and upgraded to a Network account. Now I can promote my music as well as others if they come to me for a promo boost.

Desert Island Gear

Top L-R: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Yamaha HS8 monitors + Sub.

Bottom L-R: Samsung T7 Shield external hard drive, Shure SM7B microphone, Asus laptop.

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This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.