Will Evans Talks “Old Soul” Featuring Chali 2NA From Jurassic 5

David Evans

AllHipHop spoke with Will Evans, who was enjoying his day outside in Rhode Island. Read below as we discuss his sound, how he got into music, collaborating with Chali 2NA, transitioning from band to solo artist, studio essentials, goals, and more! 

Will Evans has accomplished a lot as a musician, including paving the way as the frontman for New England Roots Rock band Barefoot Truth. Now, he shifts his focus to his own solo artistry, continuing to exercise his love for music, showcase his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, and of course, effortlessly crooning his soulful vocals. 

Describing himself as “a dark chocolate lover, a dad, and a musical medicine maker,” Will Evans’ music is meant to uplift and inspire the masses, delivering messages of family, love, hope, and inclusion.

Most recently, Will Evans unveiled his newest single and visual titled “Old Soul,” tapping Jurassic 5 founder Chali 2NA. The record arrives as the result of a decade-long friendship, reeling in elements of funk, afrobeats, and feel-good hip-hop. The visual pays homage to all the things Evans grew up surrounded by in Rhode Island, including street art, his go-to barber shop, graffiti, b-boys, and of course, emceeing.

When Will isn’t working, he’s spending time with his three-year-old daughter (with a newborn on the way) and his pup. He’s also a lifelong surfer and environmentalist with an unwavering passion and desire for protecting the earth.

AllHipHop spoke with Will Evans, who was enjoying his day outside in Rhode Island. Read below as we discuss his sound, how he got into music, collaborating with Chali 2NA, transitioning from band to solo artist, studio essentials, goals, and more! 

AllHipHop: I see you’re eating chocolate, is that mushroom chocolate?

Will Evans: It is. It has cacao, raw Tahitian vanilla, ashwagandha, and a bunch of different mushrooms. I was just outside of Asheville, I played at a chocolate factory. Now we’re teaming up and making my own branded chocolate that I’ll be selling at shows.

AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?

Will Evans: It’s definitely a c##########. [laughs] But we decided to go with kind folk, because it’s music rooted in kindness, compassion and community. Stylistically though, I like to dip into all types of genres. Folk, reggae, and some Hip Hop. Really anything with rhythm. I started as a drummer so at the core of all my songs, it has to feel rhythmically inspiring. 

AllHipHop: When’d you fall in love with music? 

Will Evans: I started singing at a Baptist church when I was a kid, probably second grade. I just loved the feel of my voice in unison or in harmony with others, the sense of fulfillment that brought me was pretty self-evident from a young age. I don’t think I ever didn’t have music in my life in some way. It was sort of a matter of time before I figured out a way to make a living just doing it,

which took some time. I started playing in bars when I was 16. You could still smoke in the bars then, which was rough. [laughs] I’d go home with a hoarse voice and smelled like booze and cigarettes, I was so happy. I wasn’t deterred by the late nights and the bar fights.

In music, your career is like a rollercoaster right? One night, you’ll play to 5000 people in a beautiful theater, and the next you’re playing in the corner by the jukebox. Having the experience of both has been really valuable for me to be able to discern that 

it’s not just the adoration, the fans, and all the other stuff that are why I do it. It’s literally because I have to. It’s a part of my soul. Because there’s been so many times where I’ve wanted to stop and I just can’t.

AllHipHop: Congrats on the release of “Old Soul,” how’d that record come about with Chali 2NA?

Will Evans: I’ve been a big fan of Jurassic 5 for a long time. I met Chali at an event we were both playing at in 2010. He was such a humble nice dude. I made a mental note: if I ever write the right song that I could get him to do a feature on, it’s on my bucket list. We’re literally sitting around the campfire at my house and I had this tune. I was talking about wanting to have a first with Chali on it. My buddy at the time was tour managing Slightly Stoopid, which is a reggae group out of

Southern California. Chali was out touring with them.

He’s like “oh well, I can just text him right now.” He texted him right then and we started chatting at the fireplace. I said “hey, I’ve got this track.” I sent it over. That’s the amazing thing about music nowadays, you can record with folks from all over the world, just send tracks to each other. The collaborative side of it is really appealing to me now, I want to do more of it.

AllHipHop: You said it was over a decade in the making?

Will Evans: I met him in 2010, he tracked it in 2022. It happened, but it took 12 years. But you know, it happened.

AllHipHop: Where was the video shot and what was the best memory?

Will Evans: I shot the video in Columbus, Ohio where I was doing some of the final tracking for the album. The girls that sang backup vocals on it, they helped set up the whole scene. I wanted to go to a barber shop and get a proper fade, really capture that urban flair that I love so much from early Hip Hop. Hip Hop with an actual band playing is my favorite type of Hip Hop. I wanted it to feel fun and really nostalgic. Having breakdancers and the girls in there, just set a vibe. We did it all handheld style with a cell phone, because it’s raw. That’s what I like about Hip Hop, it’s blemishes. 

AllHipHop: Talk about going from being a band to solo artist, how was that transition?

Will Evans: At first it sucked a lot, because all the places I had played before wouldn’t book me again. It was like really starting over in a way, but it became another mountain to climb. It was really liberating in some ways, because you keep chipping away at it. In the end really, it’s a journey. If you’ve reached the pinnacle too soon, then what’re you going to do? It’s been fun to really commit to the craft of writing, and also to show my daughter: “hey, you can do whatever you put your heart behind. Dad’s out here grinding, but he’s doing what he loves.” That’s important.

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AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?

Will Evans: Avocados, they can make some guac. I often need my dog Ellie, because she’s my therapy. She’s a rescue. She’s a Basset Hound mix, she has Corgi in her too. Ellie goes with me everywhere I tour, she’s literally my wingman. She’d need to be with me. I put her on my rider so if I’m playing the venue, they know she’s coming. Sometimes she gets a meal, grilled chicken. Probably some Throat Coat honey Tea, because you’re doing a lot of takes. Right now, I’m nursing a cold. I’ve been crushing the Throat Coat. I’ll have a little whiskey in there, just to take the edge off.

AllHipHop: Do you have any goals for yourself?

Will Evans: Geez, big questions. [laughs] Just be a good father. Find that balance of doing what I have to do to provide, but also being really present in my kids’ lives. Such a crazy scary world right now, so I just want to wrap them up and enjoy that time together.

AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?

Will Evans: Do the most good with what you can, creating the least amount of harm to the earth please. Pick up your trash, don’t leave trash on the beach. Such a bummer, what a beautiful planet we’re taking advantage of. On a hopeful note: if we’ve figured out how to destroy it, maybe we can also figure out how to save it. It starts with small actions and really, community. Bringing that community behind a movement, whether it’s music, dance, culture. Art is so powerful in that it breaks down boundaries. Here we are talking. I don’t know what music you like listening to but

you’re a fan of music obviously. We can find common ground so easily.