By now the feeling for Will Clarke should be totally normal. Despite some occasional jitters, the 21-year-old music producer from Pittsburgh is looking forward to his role as the opening act for headliners Fetty Wap and The Chainsmokers during #FEST on April 16.
Clarke, who goes by the stage name Totally Normal, will be an integral part of #FEST, the nation’s largest college music festival. The event brings popular and up-and-coming artists to Athens to showcase their talents to their ever-growing fan base.
In addition to Totally Normal and headliners The Chainsmokers and Fetty Wap, Lil Dicky, Cal Scruby and Nikyee Heaton are also scheduled to perform. Clarke is a senior and Interactive Media Studies major at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Clarke is inspired by artists from The 1975, to Eminem, to Justin Bieber. His other favorites include NGHTMRE, Porter Robinson, Sleeping With Sirens and Skrillex. He has been producing music for more than two years, which was when he started producing his own original content by creating instruments, sounds and experimenting with everything he had. “I just read some websites and watched some videos, which is an understatement,” he laughs.
At the end of his sophomore year of college, Clarke released his first EP with support from EDM.com as Totally Normal.
“I just make what I want to hear; that’s what it started out as. I made mash-ups because I wanted to hear a vocal I knew the words to with a beat that really got my attention,” Clarke says. “As it progressed, I started wanting to really make a beat no one’s heard before, so I started trying to make my own sounds. Once I was at least relatively comfortable with my sound, I set out to make the world that I hear in my head. So I’ll do both. I love making remixes as much as I love making original music, because at the end it’s all about the music to me.”
After all the time and effort that Clarke put into getting himself to where he currently is, he’s about to play for the biggest crowd he’s ever faced at #FEST.
“Jay Veal (at Prime Social Group) has been great at involving me with (PSG’s coolest events),” he says. “They contacted me really early for (#FEST), so I’ve been hyped for a while.”Clarke’s proudest accomplishment can be credited to The Chainsmokers. “I can’t wait to fangirl on them,” he says. Clarke made a remix of Milk N Cooks’ “Monster,” and The Chainsmokers featured it on Sirius XM radio as one of the top 15 songs in their podcast. “Most people dream about being on the radio and I got there after only a year of producing. AND I got the attention of one of my biggest influences as an artist.”
Clarke relishes being on stage and sharing his work with an audience. “I just love how powerful music is and how much influence it can have on the emotions of an audience,” he says. “I’ve always loved showing people new music, and now that I’m making that music, it makes that moment even more special. It’s pretty rad.”
Clarke is extremely excited to be playing #FEST next weekend, and wants to give the audience a reason to talk about him. Although he knows he will be nervous at first, it’s a big accomplishment for Clarke to share a stage with Fetty Wap and The Chainsmokers.
“I just hope that I can make an impact on them so that they can see me as an artist and not just another local opener,” Clarke says.
Clarke will be playing at #FEST from 7:30 to 8:15 p.m. on Saturday. “I expect it to be #LITFAM,” he jokes.
“It’s going to be a wide variety of music; a bunch of unreleased/unheard stuff, lots of great remixes and originals, but I promise everyone is going to be hooked at the first song. Forty-five minutes of the best shit you’ve never heard.”