By Will Yannacoulias
“Oh, that guy!”
Anyone who has enjoyed indie music in the Prince Albert area in the last few years is sure to recognize Stephen Williams. In the studio or onstage, as a collaborator, a band member, session player or producer, Williams has lent his skills as a multi-instrumentalist to a variety of projects. Almost every time a local songwriter has a tune in their heart, Williams is there to help bring their dreams to life. Williams took the next step and moved into the spotlight this past November with the release of the debut album from South West, sharing his own original songs for the first time. For his constant support and collaboration with local artists, his emergence as a songwriter in his own right, and his role in growing and exporting the local music scene in and around Prince Albert, we were happy to name Stephen Williams as NSMZ’s Artist Of The Year.
Williams’s resume of artistic collaborations is as varied as it is impressive. As well as being a full-time member of the noisy, heavy post-punk Rymestone, Williams is a partner in the experimental electronica duo Soulfather, co-guitarist in the alt-country group Rohs and hefts an old dog house bass with Jake Vaadeland, a charming bluegrass/rockabilly artist. Each of these artists released new recordings in 2021 except for Rymestone, who are currently in the studio. Williams has also appeared onstage supporting bluesy rocker Dillon Gazandlare and experimental country songwriter LJ Tyson, who Williams cites as an influence and inspiration since they were bandmates in high school.
Williams appeared in February 2021 as a member of the backing band at ‘Voices Of The North’, an important showcase for indigenous artists in Saskatchewan held every year as part of the Prince Albert Winter Festival. He’s also a partner in Reservoir Recording, a small studio in Prince Albert operated with Rymestone bandmate Jordy Balicki. Reservoir collaborated this year with Lo-Fi producer Patrick Moon Bird, teen songwriter Relan Meeks and visionary hip hop artist Benson & Co. to release even more independent music.
When asked if it’s challenging or inspiring to move in such different music circles, Williams explained that “I think of myself as a music lover. I grew up listening to punk rock, country, alternative, hip hop, everything. It’s all music to me, so it’s not hard to move from one to another. It’s a beautiful opportunity to be able to do all these things. I love all kinds of music and it’s great to have the opportunity to do all these different projects with all these great musicians.”
“Music is my passion; playing music is when I’m at my happiest” Williams concluded. “Once I get onstage I want to be there forever. For all of us to work our asses off and help create a music scene here means so much to me, to know we were able to help create the roots of what it is now. It’s pretty impressive and I’m really stoked about the future of the local scene.”
Stephen Williams will be hosting an album release party for his South West songs at the Rock Trout in Prince Albert January 7th.