Gordon Voidwell, the man behind “Ivy League Circus,” is an NYU alum who’s clear mellow speaking voice does not match the poppy falsetto used on his tracks. Maybe that’s because he keeps his musical persona separate from his day-to-day existence. Born Will Johnson and raised in the Bronx, Voidwell has bounced all around New York City finally settling in Midtown, at least for now.
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Will Johnson adopted his stage name in order to give himself the license to talk about anything in his music, “it’s still something I struggle with– putting myself out there as an individual, expressing every single part of my life in detail. I think Gordon Voidwell is a character that allowed me to feel a little more comfortable putting myself out there… a slightly more hyper real version of Will Johnson.”
His early years in the Bronx have definitely shaped and influenced his music, “in the neighborhood where I grew up there were a lot of working class people and because they really grinded during the week they liked to party [on weekends], my block always had lots of parties,” explained Voidwell. “I was always exposed to all the music from various people on my block, there’d be old salsa, merengue and then also at a really young age it seemed like all the kids knew about rap music and knew a lot about freestyle music.” The variety of music that he was exposed to in his youth gave him the knowledge and the desire to be experimental with his own music, “it all seemed like one language to me and it was a huge influence on what I’m doing now.”
Voidwell attributes his New York upbringing as the reason he is able to bring virtually different worlds together through his music, “In New York you’re just surrounded by so many different types of people; because I went to high school with people listening to indie rock and grunge and no one from my block listened to that kind of music it just made me aware of all the different social realities” said Voidwell.
Voidwell’s interests are not limited to music, he has written numerous fashion articles and continues to write for Antenna Magazine, a men’s fashion magazine, to this day, “the stuff that I’ve been writing for them lately has been pretty random, not necessarily only clothing oriented but the fact is that it’s been just about clothing and dressing and using clothes as a language has been a big part of what I’ve been doing. I’ve gotten pretty specific with how I dress and how my band dresses when we perform live.” Though he has a true appreciation for fashion and has American Apparel, Cheap Monday and Doc Martin as some of his fashion partners for himself and the band he has never considered pursuing fashion as a career path. “For me, what I really fuck with about fashion is that it is a nice accessory to making music and to making art. If you’re just thinking about music as a sound experience, as an aural experience then to me I feel like you’re missing the point as a musician. It should be just as visual,” says Voidwell.
His music can be described as experimental pop music, “the music is ultimately intended for people to understand. It is pop music but it is an attempt to bridge my concepts and everyone’s everyday life.”
Having studied postmodern philosophy and music Voidwell was lucky enough to create his own major and even luckier that he gets to use what he studied in his everyday life, “I ended up reading everything I wanted to read and my final project involved making music and also being able to have a discussion. It was great to be able to make music for homework,” said Voidwell.
Voidwell has about 20 new songs waiting to be released so keep an eye out for the latest stuff, in the mean time check out his video for “Ivy League Circus:”Follow @RosaB213