You could say WiL Mimnaugh was always destined to be a musician. Born into a musical family, WiL’s mother was always singing along to the coveted record player or belting out duets accompanied by his father on guitar. Songs rhythms were stomped out on the kitchen floor late into the weekend nights. Tunes from the likes of Hank Williams and Simon and Garfunkel were in-house performance staples.
Before reaching his teens, Wil would try to hammer out songs on his fathers Yamaki acoustic guitar describing it as “awkward”… like “holding a pile of loose lumber in my arms.” His Father – also a self-taught player would spend time trying to teach his son how to be comfortable with that pile of lumber. On Christmas morning in 1981, beneath the tree, WiL found his very own Fender acoustic guitar. It would ignite the fire of the singer-songwriter forming inside him.
In 1991 he got his first paying gig and spent the next 10 years honing his talent by performing covers of his favorite musical artists in Calgary bars. Although he had earned a reputation for packing the house on any given night, he knew it was time to move forward.
“I have no regrets about the years I spent in Calgary – that time allowed me to develop my own voice and style but most importantly it helped me realize my passion for performing live. It taught me how to captivate a room that would otherwise only be eating wings on Wednesday. It was tough but it ultimately defined who I am today. One morning I simply woke up and saw myself at 40, regurgitating other people’s music and it scared the crap out of me”
Subsequently, WiL wrote his first album called “Both Hands” in 2002 and began selling it ‘off stage’ independently. One such show in Vancouver caught the attention of then SLFA music agent, Rob Pattee who signed WiL on and kick started his touring career.
The 2003/04 season included a grueling tour schedule, playing 300+ dates with artists like Colin James, Matthew Good, Joel Plaskett Emergency, The Tea Party, Hawksley Workman, Xavier Rudd among others and earned him 3 nominations at the 2005 Western Canadian Music Awards including nods for ‘Producer’ and ‘Entertainer of the Year’.
For his sophomore album and first major label release (EMI) ‘By December’ WiL collaborated with some of Canada’s most respected musicians such as producer and multi-instrumentalist Dave MacKinnon (FemBots), 54-40′s Neil Osborne and Broken Social Scene’s Jason Collett.
In October 2008, the track, ‘Big Life’, an ode to WiL’s father, was featured in a pivotal hospital scene in the ABC TV series, ‘Eli Stone’ (Johnny Lee Miller). The following spring, WiL was featured in a White Iron Films, Rosie Award-winning documentary entitled, Music Is The Message: WiL, which detailed his ongoing journey within music. The doc was aired on MuchMoreMusic in September 2010 and scooped three awards at the recent ‘Rosies’, including Best Music or Variety Show.
WiL recorded and released his 3rd and independent studio album, ‘In This Together’ in 2009/10. It was during the recording of this album and working with producer and commercial composer Bruce Leitl that WiL really started coming into his own as a songwriter.
The pairing, by commercial music manager and mentor, Dan McManus, was initiated in order to help further develop his songwriting skills and melody structure. WiL laughingly admits “Bruce was the Porsche and I was the pickup” Bruce helped me become a better songwriter. He and I had vastly different musical tastes but differences aside, he helped me realize that I had talent as a writer”
Tragically, Bruce passed away before the album was finished. WiL says, “I never realized what I actually learned while making that record until six months later. Bruce was my friend and mentor and although I feel the album itself became a bit polished for my liking it was the album that most definitely helped me realize my potential as a songwriter as well as lay the foundation for the skills I needed to make music for TV and film”.
Subsequently, WiL spent the first part of 2011 writing and recording his 4th album ‘Heart of Mine’ which he produced with then drummer and producer, Jason Cook. The balance of the year was spent at home in his studio, aptly called ‘Box In the Woods’, writing and composing music for film and television. Last year, however, was pivotal for WiL – in the fall of 2011 four of his compositions including ‘Roam’ were selected to accompany Travel Alberta’s stunning tourism campaign, ‘Remember to Breathe’
WiL says “I feel very fortunate that my music is starting to find its way through to commercial avenues. I enjoy the process of making music to imagery and I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity afforded to me thus far and will continue as long as I am inspired but I will always know that my true passion is performing my music live.
… And live, is where WiL’s energy and soulfulness is unmatched. He delivers his music with a roots inspired passion, which has cemented him self a reputation as a truly powerful live performer.
A recent live show review states “As each chord came and went, and every lyric transitioned to another, it made me want to love something half as much as WIL loves music. His songs are stories not written for fame, and his sound is authentic, not manipulated to follow trend. Wil plays music because he would die if he didn’t.”