Melbourne music project Willing is a queer-pop duo who are making sensual waves with enticing lyrics and accompanying vibrantly saucy visuals. Willing has just released their sizzling new single, ‘Hungry’, which is a horny trap-rock jam interrogating gay hook up culture. It’s irreverent and thirsty. The video is a queercore fever dream, campy and fabulous and features a range of Melbourne’s queer creatives that celebrate the act of ethical promiscuity. Willing has just whet our appetite and we’re ready to jump straight to dessert…
For those who don’t know, who is Willing and how did you come to be?
Anybody can be willing. It’s a question of volition. We just happen to make a thing out of it.
But if we’re talking specifically about us, the music we make and the performances we do then what you should know is this. We’re a music project presently based in Melbourne, Australia. We make sensual avant pop. The general vibe is seductive thumpers to get the party started and yearning ballads to ruin it. Will sings. Charlie plays guitar. The rest we sort out beforehand (tracks etc). Most modern pop is karaoke.
We actually met in high school. We were both drama kids, but Charlie is a lot younger. Will started Willing as a solo project and was searching for a guitarist. Charlie responded to the ad. What resulted caught us both unaware. It has been an incredibly sustaining and satiating collaboration.
The video for ‘Hungry’ features a range of Melbourne’s queer creatives. Can you tell us more about those involved?
We had the most wonderful cast and crew. And to be honest they were mainly mates. Our cast is a little troop of doof-couture munchkins, including local DJ and after-hours influencer, Tilly Cums, drag baby and fellow call centre telephonist, Gloss the Queen, and our dear friend Steffie, a local stylist, and a true angel. We were also lucky enough to have both members of electronic music act Kettokai in the video. Fi and Angie are the whole package, digitising dualities with their mix of live electronica and projection – easily the coolest people in any room.
As for the crew, we knew from the get-go that we wanted Amy Dellar to be our DOP. She’s just got “it” and had done so much work we admired. The rest of the crew sort of fell in place around her. Gab our tremendous producer. Gustavo, our stylist, who is actually singular in their understanding of camp, golden age fanfare, haute couture and Hollywood trash.
‘Hungry’ explores the notion of gay hook up culture, something that is often portrayed negatively in mainstream media. Was it Willing’s intention to challenge this idea?
Yes, it absolutely was. Intention is the spice of life. Contrary to mainstream narratives, hook up culture is often harmless. What IS harmful however is how big companies like Grindr commoditise gay restlessness to the detriment of us actually getting anything done or coming together in more meaningful ways. Also, how boring is spending hours scrolling through half naked torsos, when you only really have a half baked plan to even leave the house in the first place.
There’s obviously also a problem with fat-shaming, femme-phobia and intensive racism on those apps. This is now starting to be addressed, but to be honest, is still pretty pervasive. Call people out when you see it because it can be so damaging to people who are already at the intersection of various minority identities.
But in terms of the actual act itself, the casual sex, most of the time it’s great. Occasionally it’s terrible, or humorous or downright odd, but usually these queers know what they’re doing. Ships in the night who just happen to fuck. It’s actually perfectly normal to be horny and when we can have open dialogues about it and understand each others’ boundaries, then we develop more mature attitudes towards sex and fewer people are left in vulnerable positions.
But what the song really aims to encapsulate is the diabolical headiness of the lead up to the act. The scrolling, the anticipation:
’I want that quarter pounder babe, I want that coke and fries; you say you’ll be half an hour boy, I’m aching in my thighs’.
The lyric frames hook up culture as a hellish symptom of late capitalism. The gig economy gone mad. Dirty deals. Meals on wheels…. we’re glamorising the seediness of it all. Playing up the promiscuity darling. We ate it! we masticated it! We enjoyed every last mouthful!
In Australia there is a big lack of representation for queer artists. Have you noticed any difficulties in navigating the music scene as openly queer musicians?
The political situation in Australia at the moment is terribly regressive. Despite recent wins for gay marriage, our prime minister is a right-wing evangelist who speaks in tongues and actually brought a lump of coal into parliament.
Luckily, we operate in a little supportive bubble of queer musicians in our city, which is very heartening. Broadly speaking however there is a lack of queer representation on bigger platforms in the country. This is changing, but slowly.
In terms of our own navigation of the music scene, sure we’re a queer act but in most other areas we have relative privilege so our job is to continue to help dismantle white supremacy and the patriarchy in support of our POC, indigenous and not-cis-men friends and musicians.
Are there any queer artists on your radar that Willing would be interested in collaborating with in the future?
There is such an abundance of queer pop coming from all corners of the globe right now. Top of mind at the moment is King Princess who released the vid for her new track Prophet yesterday. Honestly, such a sumptuous explosion of a song. Her vocals and that guitar treatment are right up our alley. And the clip gives you full Friday Night Lights realness with a good slice of La Grande Bouffe at the end (bon appetit, baby). We’d expect nothing less from Ssion (director) who to be honest is one of the most important contributors to pop as gesamkunstwerk in the last decade. His recent film clip Inherit changed everything for us. To work with either of them would be huge.
What are you hungry for right now?
A gorgeous pasta la norma made out of eggplant emojis, binary code and broken embraces.
What’s next for Willing?
Well, Will’s moving to London. Exploring options etc. But there’s only distance between us and we have big dreams. We’ve also just finished recording our debut album, tentatively titled Pure Romance and Utter Devastation. It’s about young love in the big city. Transient utopias in a constant state of emergency. By far the best song’s we’ve ever written and, if we can get budget, the visuals will be nothing short of cinematic.
Check out the video for Hungry below:
Photographer: Aneta Urbonaite
Stylist: Gustavo Pallacios