Premiere: JS Williams Debuts with Hauntingly Ambient “Only Oceans”

JS Williams
JS Williams captures the weight of change and our inner demons in “Only Oceans,” a hauntingly ambient outpouring of honest, raw indie folk.
Stream: “Only Oceans” – JS Williams

It was clear at that point that the choices I had been making for the last few years weren’t the healthiest ones.

There comes a point in every person’s life where they’re faced with a need to change, and a chance to turn themselves around. Sometimes it comes when you’re young, and you switch paths early in the game. Most of us aren’t so lucky, and end up staring into that mirror of our souls when change isn’t so much an option, as it is a necessity. JS Williams captures the weight of change and our inner demons in “Only Oceans,” a hauntingly ambient outpouring of honest, raw indie folk.

Only Oceans - JS Williams

Only Oceans – JS Williams

Too many kliks to tell anymore
Follow the work
keep it brave until it works
Flying doesn’t feel like it did
when you held the floor
oh you held the floor

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Only Oceans,” JS Williams’ latest song release (out everywhere Friday, March 22, 2019). The lead single off a forthcoming solo album, “Only Oceans” is a powerful introduction to an artist who has already made a name for himself in Montreal and around the world as a composer, guitarist and musician. Williams’ song “Help Is on the Way” for Kristina Wagenbauer’s Shashinka was recently nominated by the Canadian Screen Awards for Best Original Song.

Yet while he has much to stand by and a career to be quite proud of, Jean-Sébastien Williams is taking a brave step out of the dark in his latest music. Shedding all pretense, “Only Oceans” is his song written to and for himself – it is a soundtrack to his life, a poignant soliloquy full of heart and somber resolve.

You can say: it was just a dream
but it kept so much truth it seems
I’d prefer it if you didn’t stay
Stay locked up in my stare
The same can be said about
The things I said when I held the floor
Oh I held the floor
JS Williams

JS Williams by Josh Dolgin

“This song was written in Sète (France) during a 4 day break from a long tour,” Williams tells Atwood Magazine. “It had been a long stretch of unhealthy living, partying etc. When this break hit from the tour, I spent 4 days with my new love and it was clear at that point that the choices I had been making for the last few years weren’t the healthiest ones. At this point a choice had to be made and that’s essentially what the song is about. The song is a story about choices.”

Williams continues, “This song and the whole record was produced entirely by myself. After being a side man for many years I decided to try and do as much of the record production process by myself. I pushed my skill and experience to the limit before looking for outside help. Most of the recording was done at a cottage over a 10 day period. At this stage everything was done by me. From finding the arrangements musically to setting up mics, hitting record and trying to get good takes. The drums and bass were then recorded at studio PM with Rob Heaney.”

We feel the extent of Williams’ inner pull toward change in the chorus, as above an aching drone he observes the responsibility he alone bears to himself.

Only oceans know well
What I can’t tell
Only dirt can say
What I want hear too
I’d want to hear too

While “Only Oceans” sounds in passing like a lament – and there’s no denying its melancholy textures – the song is also a testament to the severity of life’s impasses – these pivot points that force us to reflect on who we are, where we are, and how we go there.

Can you catch me when
I sail back through emptiness
Trade it in now I can waste
I can waste it with another taste
’cause you know well I can be
Be the mess you know I can be
Oh when I can’t see

It’s a brave new beginning JS Williams: The artist’s first release introduces his penchant for both the cinematic and the ethereal. “Only Oceans” dwells in the notion of accepting the weight, or burden, we’ve been given – and finding the strength to hold our heads high, even when it hurts.

Stream “Only Oceans” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Stream: “Only Oceans” – JS Williams

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Only Oceans - JS Williams

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com