William Zayas: Just the Beginning
By: Donella Lalas
Editor: Ricky Rath
It all started at Q Nightclub as Autograf stopped by Seattle for their Metaphysical Tour in 2016. William Zayas watched from the crowd when he noticed one of the members from the group was Asian.
It was at that moment, William realized if an Asian artist could make it in the electronic music industry, so could he.
William Zayas, a producer and DJ who performs under the stage name Trillivm, began his aspirations for music just before he moved to Bellingham to attend Western. It wasn’t until he got to Bellingham in 2016 when it started to take off.
“I started playing open mic at the Underground Coffeehouse at Western, which was five minutes long,” he said. “Everyone else did covers, stand up comedy and then here I was playing dubstep. I would do that for five minutes every week for six to seven weeks.”
The first show William went to in Bellingham was at the Wild Buffalo. After the show, he made it his goal to perform there by the end of his three years at Western.
Soon after, he was practicing at Western’s PAC Plaza when a reporter from the campus newspaper approached him for a photo. He later saw the photo was posted on Instagram and was contacted by a representative from the Wild Buffalo for a shot to perform at the venue.
His three year goal ended up becoming the first show he ever played.
William identifies as Filipino, Black and Puerto Rican. Being an artist of color in the industry can come with its own struggles as the scene is dominated by white males.
According to 2018’s DJ Mag Top 100 yearly ranking list, only six of the 100 artists identified as Asian or Asian-American. The rest of the list consists of predominantly European or white artists.
In Min Huh’s 2016 capstone dissertation on media representation of Asian Americans, Huh said the invisibility of Asians is apparent in popular media such as film, television and music.
As defined by William, representation is a group of people who go unrecognized but are paving their own lane for themselves and those to come.
“If you’re a Cambodian kid, a Filipino kid, a Puerto Rican kid or a Black kid, you’re not going to see yourself on stage ever,” William said. “You’re never going to think it’s possible.”
William and other featured artists performing at R-Squared and Friends are here to show everyone that it is possible.
He believes the best way to help underrepresented communities is to show support. Believe in people and share their work on social media because it’s the biggest way to bring attention and awareness.
William has also been crafting together his first album titled “Decolonizing House Music.”
“This [album] is a capstone of the times I spent in Bellingham and how it’s going to manifest in the rest of my life,” he said.
This album is a passion project for William. It’s his way of decolonizing house music, a genre pioneered by Black communities in Chicago.
“The biggest thing I wanted to do with this album is to make a story, add a narrative,” he said.
The inspiration came from Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Allderdice album where there are bits of an interview between each song to give an inside look to him as a person.
Recently, William graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Cultural Anthropology and is releasing his debut album on Friday, July 5.
People like William Zayas represent and help pave the path for the Asian-American community in creative fields such as music. He is proud to have been shaped by his Filipino upbringing and embraces his style and who he is.
“None of us stand a chance, but we all do.” - William Zayas
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