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1 July 2010, 4:00 pm 3 Comments

The Indie Rock Fag: White Williams, Where Art Thou?

This post was submitted by Zack Rosen

I think Girltalk is a skilled artists, but I can’t imagine seeing another one of his shows. The “dude at a laptop” performance vibe, combined with the “singing along to snippets of frat rock” audience atmosphere, was something I don’t care to repeat anytime soon. When I saw him at the Black Cat three years ago he brought along two other acts. One was Dan Deacon, who is a lot of fun but was hard to get a good look at because he performs from the actual floor of the club. But the first and lowest profiled opener was someone I won’t forget for a long time.

It was a skinny young man, in even skinner jeans, with a vibe of androgyny that would make a burka-clad Grace Jones look like a poster child for the gender binary. He didn’t just look like he didn’t care: I strongly suspect he actually didn’t care. About anything besides his songs, that is. It was a low key performance and a great one. And one that hasn’t been repeated in The District since.

Above you have Violator, my hands-down favorite song of 2007. It was released on an EP by the artist White Williams. His 2008 full-length Smoke knocked my pants off as well, and for a little while it seemed like he could be just the kind of indie act I’d follow till I died. It takes balls to name your breakout track after Depeche Mode, and skill not to look like a jerk in the comparison. Smoke’s lead single New Violence raised the bar even further, and a handful of deeper album tracks like Headlines and Route To Palm were brief mainstays in both my dreams and DC alt-fag parties like Taint. I was primed and ready to welcome the arrival of queer-friendly synth pop that seemed produced by a person and not a computer. But then the worst happened.

White Williams just disappeared. His MySpace blog was last updated in spring 2008. Pitchfork has a scant mention of his contribution to a charity compilation in January 2009, then nothing. A search of all the press releases in my gmail account proffered up the same. His former drummer Cale Parks released one of last year’s most overlooked albums (and catchiest tracks,) so I like to think that he would’ve at least dedicated a tour to Mr. Williams or something if the man had died. When people go away for good, even the forgotten ones, someone out there remembers it.

It’s so odd, in our current climate of musical oversaturation, when a buzz band just falls off the radar. When Animal Collective or the like even think about possibly recording a new track in the near future it makes headline news on every music blog in the country. But White’s just gone. Its refreshing in some ways to have an album stand on its own without all the hype and omnipresence that can make indie music so oppressive to follow in the first place. But I would hate to think that this low profile would swing too far in the other direction and we’d lose the guy forever.

So anyone out there have any info on what happened? Mr. Williams, if you’re reading this, I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

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  • doug said:

    my ipod incorrectly credits white williams with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVL-zZnD3VU

    it was almost right.

  • JK said:

    I too am searching for the likes of White Williams. WE WANT MORE.

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