Platinum selling keyboards. Recorded and Toured with Luke Combs, Billy Ray Cyrus, Justin Moore, Collin Raye, and many more!
Hey! My name is Wil. I'm a Nashville Session Keyboardist. I've had the incredible honor of recording with touring the world with some of the most notable names in the music industry. Now, in-between national and international tours, I spend most of my days in the recording studio playing on everything from Number 1 Radio Hits to Songwriter Demos for some of the most popular writers in Nashville.
Specialty: Piano, B3, String Arrangements/Programming, Wurli, Rhodes, Synths
Genres: Classic Country, Pop Country, Southern Gospel, Rock.
Send me a message and lets discuss your project. In some cases clients know exactly what they want. In other cases the client trusts me to give them what I believe the song needs. And that's what I always strive to do. I look forward to partnering with you and adding to your songs!
Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.
CreditsAllMusic verified credits for Wil Houchens
4 ReviewsEndorse Wil Houchens
Wil's work is amazing. His playing has be brilliant and he is incredibly professional to work with. The recording is also top notch, real grand piano, great mic and preamps. Would not hesitate to use him again.
Terrific musician. Great keys. Complete professional. Definitely will use Wil in the future. For anyone looking for a real, sweet, B3, this is it!
Wil's the real deal! I've had the pleasure of working with him a handful of times, and his work never fails to impress. He finds that sound you're wanting and does it all in a few takes.
I've worked on several projects with Wil over the years and he never fails to impress me or the client! Always has the best tones with his real B3 and real Grand Piano and amazing creative ideas. Definitely hire him if you get the chance!
Interview with Wil Houchens
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: One of my most proud projects was an early album that I did for a guy named Eddy Dunlap. It was a country instrumental album, and I got to play along side my session musician heros, like Brent Mason and Pig Robbins. I got to come in and play a real fast chicken pickin' song with those cats. Truly a moment to remember. Since then we've shared numerous albums together, and it never gets old. So much joy to be had in creating great music.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Today is Saturday and I've completed everything I've been working on for the week. 7 Film Score tracks on piano, a full Orchestration, a gospel single project on piano, an R&B single on Wurli and B3, and another pop-country single on B3. It's been slammed pack week, but that currently clears my schedule so I can be on tour next week. That's just the best way to handle business for me. I don't like dragging out projects for long periods. And that's rarely the case in Nashville. Everyone here gets things done very quickly. That's something we take a lot of pride in.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: There are quite a few guys on SoundBetter that I know from the Nashville community and I have nothing but great things to say about them. And their SoundBetter ratings speak for themselves!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I'm a mixture of both. While I love the convenience of recording into digital, I still love the gooey-warmth you get from analog gear. People claim you can't hear the difference anymore, but if you actually own the analog gear, you can hear the difference. I'll take an Neve through an SSL4000 any day over plugins.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to give you the best tracks that I can. I'll give you something that reflect my entire life's worth of experiences. It might be simple, it might be complex, but it'll be exactly what I think your song needs.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love getting to do what I love, each and every day. Having a career that's fully supported by music is incredible. Getting to sit and create music is a joy in itself, but the real prize is seeing an artists project come to life and see it grow and take on wings as it goes out into the world. That's the real magic of the job.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Most of the questions I get asked are usually about my past projects. What was is like working with so-and-so? Mostly always awesome. We're they cool? The artists are always amazing. That's why they got to where there are today. Oh, I see you tour with Billy Ray Cyrus, do you ever get to hang out with Miley? Yes. And she's actually really cool and down to earth. No one really asks a much about the music or the process.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: I'm not sure that there are any misconceptions about what we do. I suppose some people think we're just robots. Send us music, and we send back parts. It's not always easy. We labor over our parts to make sure we don't do a disservice to the music.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: My biggest question, assuming the music doesn't speak this for itself, is: "What role do you hear the keys playing? Is the the lead instrument, is it a power instrument, or is it just there for support?"
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: As in most all studio situations, we want the customer to "hear us out". We've been doing this for a very long time, so our first-instincts are usually pretty close to being right.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Well, this is just an absolute impossible question. Who could go anywhere with only 5 pieces of gear!? LOL! I've gotta have a ProTools rig on a MacBook. I could trade off the piano for Keyscape perhaps, but I'd have to have the real B3. And gosh, I suppose I'd need a Neve Preamp and a Neumann U87. Gosh, I suppose that would cap out the 5 piece limit.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: My career has been long and fairly adventuresome. To keep it short, I started playing by ear at age 3. One of those freak incidents when the parents realize their kid isn't actually just banging on the piano....he's playing melodies and harmonies. I started classical lessons at age 6. Started attending college for classical piano at age 14. Went on to get my undergraduate degree in Classical Piano Performance. Moved to Nashville TN to complete my Graduate Studies in Commercial Music (essentially Jazz Studies). I spent a few years after that touring in small bands and recording songwriter demos. After a few of the "being in the right place at the right time" gigs, I started touring with larger artists, started getting called for larger sessions. Ended up touring with Justin Moore, Collin Raye, Billy Ray Cyrus, Luke Combs, and getting to record on large records for some of these guys. And while this was all going on, I was still plugging away every day recording and producing songwriters EPs, Demos, Singles, Albums, on the days I was back in Nashville. Now closing in on almost 30 years after I first started, things are still rocking; recently received a Platinum album award, got another platinum single, and am getting to play on records that are all over the world. It's been an absolute whirlwind of a ride.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: It's always hard to describe yourself. But I'm often told that I'm the guy with "the touch". I've certainly spent my life attempting to master the piano and have studied music on its most complex level, now I'm bringing the refined touch of classical music and jazz to modern setting. So you get all the right feels and licks, etc, but with a carefully refined touch.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Oh gosh, that's a really tough question. Honestly if I had to pick a current country artist that I'd want to work with, it would have to be Luke Combs...and I've been working with him since his very first album. I can't think of anyone in the industry doing bigger thing for music than he is. He's being himself, writing genuine music, and we're cutting some great tracks for those records. That young man is going somewhere big, because he's letting the real music flow out.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: My number one tip is to TRUST YOUR GUT. When you sit down to work on a song, you hit the record button and you begin to play....the idea that settles into your mind is usually the right one. You may not always execute that idea on the first try, but it's usually the right idea. Quit second guessing yourself so much. Music is a reflection of who you are on the inside, don't keep changing it to mask who you really are.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: About 75% of the time I work on country music. That's a rather broad genre, but I am hired for everything from 90's style country, on up to the current main-stream pop-radio-country. The other 25% covers mostly film orchestrations and jazz.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I've spent the last two decades carefully sculpting my crafts. Knowing the piano is my strongest instrument, I've focuses diligently on B3, and other keyboard instruments, as well as orchestration, engineering, and producing.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Every session player is going to bring something different to a song. A good player is going to give a piece of themselves to the project. Decades of knowledge and training are always the foundation for what I play, but i always create a produced part for my clients. No generic "cookie-cutter" recuts for the projects I work on.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: On a normal day, an assistant and I will arrive early at the studio, and listen through all of the day's projects while preparing session files, miking instruments, and patching cables. We'll determine a plan of flow for the day and pick what we want to work on first. I'll start by listening to the track again while charting the song and developing possible ideas to try. We'll move on to the first instrument, record a few passes at the song, then review in the control room to make sure we've really nailed the vibe and the part is exactly what the song needs. Then we'll move on to the next instrument, and repeat the process until the song is complete.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I own a large, full operation recording studio in Nashville. Not a small overdub rig like most people operate from home. The 1,500sqft facility is carefully constructed for prime acoustics, and is outfitted with fantastic instruments. Grand Piano, vintage 1967 Hammond B3 with 122 Leslie, numerous drum kits and guitars covering all styles of music, a vast assortment of microphones, preamps (including Neve, SSL, and API), and outboard compressors. The control room is built around a Avid Console, and anchored by ProTools HD with 40 inputs and 18 outputs. Along with a slave computer system that handles an incredibly deep sample libraries covering many popular and great sounding libraries on the market.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm endlessly inspired by my colleagues in the Nashville Recording Industry. The musicians that I work with on a daily basis are incredibly talented and bottomless wealths of knowledge and creativity. We encourage each other to grow and push the limitations of the music that we create.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of the work that clients bring to me consists of a mostly completed track, whether it be a Demo, EP, Single, etc. that needs a keyboard addition of some kind. Most cases just ask for, or require, an addition of Piano and B3. But some songs need Rhodes, Wurli, or other type of keyboard to fulfill the vision.