Wiley Webb ’16, has come a long way since his first rave. While he was once just another face in the crowd, the sophomore is now on stage as the main event. His songs, notable for their catchy riffs, have thousands of plays online, and their popularity is only growing.
It all started five years ago, during Webb’s freshman year of high school in Southern California.
“I fell in love with dance music originally because a friend dragged me to a rave in ninth grade,” Webb said. “I fell in love with that scene and the crazy sounds and all that.”
After that night, Webb began to experiment on his computer, becoming his high school’s go-to DJ for events. Since then, he has produced multiple original tracks that he shares on online sites such as YouTube and SoundCloud. He has also performed across the country; his recent shows took place at the University of Michigan and at venues in Seattle and San Francisco.
Webb entered the music scene at just the right time — without the help of social media, the young DJ would not have been able to make the necessary connections to advance his career. Using Twitter for initial networking, Webb landed his first performance at a theater in Boulder, Colo., which in turn allowed him to meet other people, including Justin Blau, who provided Webb with his first big show in San Francisco last October.
Webb is completely self-taught and attributes his success to years of tinkering with his electronic music gadgets.
“Becoming an expert at anything, I think, is just the accumulation of a lot of fiddling around and learning online,” Webb said.
He also credited his prior knowledge of piano with helping him learn how to produce music.
“I’m only okay at [playing the piano], but I think it was crucial,” Webb said. “You can’t really make something of musical value without really understanding music.”
What started with “just fooling around with samples and adding in notes and stuff” soon evolved into a full-time occupation. This past summer, Webb says he spent more than 30 hours a week devoted to mastering his craft.
“It’s sort of been my full-time internship, this past summer,” Webb said. “It’s a combination of working on new music plus the sort of business that’s evolved from it. There’s lots and lots of emails.
“If I’m not procrastinating or working successfully on something for the music itself, I’ll put in eight hours to 12 hours a day,” he continued. “But that’s only when things are working well, [and] it’s not often. I’m really bad at workflow.”
In his free time, Webb enjoys cooking, for many of the same reasons that he enjoys producing music.
“It’s very analogous to making music, actually,” Webb said. “It’s about knowing your ingredients, preparing them individually, shaping them into one cohesive whole and the consumer has no idea what went into it.”
Currently, Webb is working towards a major in product design and spends his free time looking at design and architecture on the Internet.
“I’m very ADD-ish, especially when working on music,” Webb said. “I love reading design blogs, looking at lots of architecture. That’s how I waste time now, instead of looking at LOL cats, so I guess that’s good.”
Despite the distractions, Webb has clearly put in enough work to excel on the music circuit: This year, he is scheduled to perform monthly at Ruby Skye and Vessel and two nightclubs in San Francisco, on top of various projects he is working on with other artists around campus.
Webb hopes to one day have enough material to perform an entire set of his own material onstage. But for now, you can catch him at your next frat party — he’s that skinny kid killing it at the turntables.
Contact Niuniu Teo at niuteo ‘at’ stanford.edu.