A funny thing happened on the way to curating a street art show at the Museum of the San Fernando Valley, I bumped into the Shepard Fairey street team member that works for Fairey in his warehouse…Willem Wolfe.
Wolfe is the multi-talented son of rock icon Billy Idol who has been working with Fairey and is a part of his warehouse team.
For months the LA Music Scene has been wondering who it was that was putting up Fairey’s work and we guess it’ll still be one of those questions that will never be answered.
We are quite the fan of Fairey’s work and own one of his posters that he donated to Amoeba Music in Hollywood from his private collection which he also autographed. We have newspaper clippings about him, we follow his work here as well as in Paris, France and have some of his cards.
Wolfe tells the LA Music Scene that he has been interested in street art since he was a teenager and has his own street art brand to put up. One such piece is up in NoHo and a photo of his work will be on display later this month at the Museum of the San Fernando Valley.
In addition to street art, Wolfe is into creating music. Wolfe’s music is more “Techno” than what one might expect being Billy Idol’s son. When we listened to his music, an episode of the “Twilight Zone” came to mind.
The episode “Tell David” featured Sandra Dee and she finds herself in a jail cell. While in jail, futuristic music comes onto a radio and that is what Wolfe’s music reminded me of…futuristic.
In Wolfe’s “Rainy Day in LA” he blends a bit of jazz fusion with his “Techno” while his “Conga House” is more danceable and has a great dance beat. There is a bit of singing in this song. In his “2 Way Street” you can see yourself cruising down Sunset Blvd. while enjoying the melodic nature of this tune. “Flamingo” is an excursion into the psyche and is danceable. Wolfe’s music can be found on Youtube.
Wolfe has also been on Teachr and James Shen’s podcast “Paint The Town” and was very insightful into what Wolfe is all about. The LA Music Scene has been on the “PTTP” show when it was first starting out. FYI Teachr is one of our most favorite street artists and will also be featured in the Museum of the San Fernando Valley. Shen also has the Instagram account “LA Street Art Gallery” where he documents and maps L.A. street art since 2012. Wolfe is on episode 177 of the PTTP show.
Wolfe lives in Hollywood, CA and he also grew up there. His home features a recording studio where he cranks out his most interesting compositions.
Wolfe lays his interest in music and his interest in what’s going on around himself at the feet of his parents; dancer Perri Lister and of course Idol. “They were artists so being raised by them shaped my world view,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe labels his music as IDM (intelligent dance music) which was also influenced by a DJ that was staying at Lister’s house at the time. When the DJ moved out he left his vinyl records there which Wolfe gingerly dove into and began experimenting with.
When describing his music genre Wolfe put it this way “my feelings and emotions put into a template which we call ‘house’.”
His father took him to a lot of movies and played baseball with him. He also received a copy of The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer,” which is the first song he learned to play on a bass guitar.
Wolfe also added that “seeing shows influenced me and made me believe that anything is possible…it’s up to you.”
As for how Fairey has influenced his art Wolfe added that in 2017 at his birthday party he showed his work to Fairey and the rest is wheatpaste history. Fairey also designed a few album covers for his father.
Fairey put his association with Wolf this way “I met Willem through his dad (Billy Idol) who I’ve done a few album covers for.”
Willem has always been a multi-talented guy playing rock and electronic music, DJing and making art that straddles a few stylistic zones. Willem fuses DIY techniques that come from street art, punk rock and pop art to make works that are graphic, raw, irreverent and humorous. Willem has great instincts for what will make an instant impact visually.”
Fairey goes on to say, “I hired Willem as an art assistant because he understands the ideas and techniques behind my art. He frequently works on collage backgrounds for my pieces and has a great sense of how to balance control and chaos in the organic collage compositions.”
“I think he may have better luck balancing control and chaos in art than in life, but Willem has a lust for life,” Fairey adds. “He’s also a great help on some of my large scale murals.”
Having said all that, is it any wonder that the LA Music Scene is stoked to have Willem cross our path? What with Idol as his dad and Fairey as a mentor/employer if it’s possible to have an existential orgasm, then we have had that over this triad.
Willem we wanna be your Fairy Godmother.
As for the use of vinyl Wolfe states “people want to buy vinyl and move away from the corporate aspect like the streaming platforms. Corporations don’t seem to care about people and are designed not to.”
According to Wolfe, corporate’s hold on music has destroyed L.A. radio. “Corporations have made me less interested in selling my stuff on music platforms that are available,” Wolfe explains.
Among his favorite acts are Aphex Twins and since the late 1980s has enjoyed the music of Joy Division and The Cure.
Yes Wolfe does have a favorite watering hole in Hollywood where he likes to hang out with friends, clear his head. It was the “Bronson Bar” where he would DJ once a month but it has closed which leaves La Poubelle Bistro.
Wolfe is currently working on some music for an independent record label called “Maison Fauna” which is located in North Carolina. The company’s genres are house, techno and garage.
In case the point was missed, Wolfe is dismayed at what has happened to Hollywood as the corporations are buying up properties and tearing down all of Hollywood’s history…
So are we Wolfe, so are we.